Darkest Caress (Empowered, #1) - Kaylea Cross Have you ever gone into a book not knowing what to expect? I know that I have asked readers that question before, but honestly, for some books, it bears repeating. Needless to say, you can tell where this is going…. Darkest Caress took me by surprise. I read the synopsis and knowing nothing about Kaylea Cross and her other books, took a chance on liking it enough to add to my mountainous TBR list. It didn’t take me long to realize that I now not only have a new series to delve into, but I also have a new author to follow.Daegan knew the moment that he laid eyes on Olivia that she was his mate. Speaking of taking people by surprise. ;) This story takes the draw of the mate and alpha to a whole new extreme. The powerfulness of the attraction is raw and the consequences of fighting it are literally destructive. Let’s just say, things in Darkest Caress get intense really fast. The effect for Daegan is bad enough because he knows what’s happening, but Olivia has no idea and has to come to terms with her destiny pretty quickly.I really liked Olivia. She fought the attraction between her and Daegan as long as she could, refusing to give up her free will. She found out as much as she could about her destiny in the short time she had to make a decision and she stayed true to herself. The inner battle that these two characters waged was part of the draw of this book. Watching Daegan take his time and risk everything to make sure Olivia was given a choice slowly won her over. This, among other reasons helped prove Daegan to be the perfect Alpha male. *sigh*Although this book was an introduction to the Empowered Series, the reader didn’t get lost in the background or history of the characters and the series’ premise. All the needed information was woven within the story and flowed well. The supporting characters had depth and the relationships weren’t forced. I loved getting to know Cade and Vaughn. The strength of their relationship with Daegan was apparent and their ultimate acceptance of Olivia wasn’t forced, but totally believable. The book contained a lot of action, mystery and drama with much more to come. I personally can’t wait to see where the characters are taken next. Cade’s book is next and after being introduced to him in Darkest Caress, his story promises to be interesting, to say the least.Evidently, Darkest Caress and the Empowered Series is a departure from the norm for Kaylea Cross. I personally think she did an amazing job with the paranormal aspect of this story. That, along with the mythological references gave it a familiarity that really drew me in.