Well I certainly got my money's worth with Dawnkeepers, Jessica Andersen's second installment in her Nightkeeper Mayan 2012 end of the world series. With 455 pages (of small print too) this one kept me out of mischief for a good long time.
The romantic leads in Dawnkeepers are Alexis, who was raised on Nightkeeper lore and who embraces her destiny and all the promises of prestige and power that come with it, and Nate, who grew up with no family, not belonging anywhere or to anyone and who has no intention of giving up his freedom and submitting to the notion of destiny. Alexis and Nate hooked up last book during the heightened sensual needs that resulted from their Nightkeeper initiation ceremony, but despite a mystic connection between them - Nate is in Alexis' dreams and Alexis is the spitting image of a video game character Nate created years before meeting her - Nate has rejected Alexis because he won't accept that the gods have chosen her as his mate.
Though there is a romance here, it is not as much the focus of the story as the one between Nightkeeper King Strike and his former Police detective mate Leah in the first book. Nate and Alexis' thread is but one of several, we also follow: the half-blood eighteen year old Rabbit as he begins to discover more facets of his power, Strike's seeress sister Anna as she is pulled from the normal life she desperately wants back into the Nightkeeper fray, and Anna's graduate assistant Lucius who is tainted by the evil magic born of his unquenchable curiosity and need to prove that Nightkeepers are not just legends.
I have to admit that I was actually glad the story wasn't just about Nate and Alexis, they are both pretty annoying for the first third of the book. At the start, Nate is a real jerk and Alexis is very needy and focused on the superficial trappings. Thankfully both of the pair actually do some real growing up in the course of the story - Alexis learns to stand on her own and gains her own power, and Nate learns how to be part of something bigger than himself - so despite some poignant moments when all seems lost, everything works out the way it should for the pair.
There was plenty going on in this book beyond Nate and Alexis quest for a happily ever after. More pieces of the end of time prophecy come into play in the form of magic artifacts that the Nightkeepers are desperately trying to obtain, though they are foiled at every step by a new enemy, powerful magi belonging to a legendary evil offshoot of the Nightkeepers. So overall I still enjoyed the story even with a few little side nits that bothered me: Strike's whole bug up his you-know-where about humans knowing about the Nightkeeper home base Skywatch when - hello- the enemies know the location, and Anna's keeping secrets and lying to her husband - a betrayal not on the same order as his affair - both irked me a bit for some reason. But nothing major enough to keep this from being an interesting read. And as in the previous book, Andersen uses her ponderous amounts of research - you have to check out the references on her website to believe how much - to bring elaborate detail to every aspect of the story, from settings to history to rituals to the creatures that the Nighkeepers must battle to keep doomsday from coming even sooner than prophesized.
I am so looking forward to more of Rabbit and I'm hoping that poor Lucius - both possessed and enslaved - catches a break when the series continues with Skykeepers (Final Prophecy, Book 3) in June.