by Thea Harrison, fantasy (2011)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-24150-9
Here's the dark secret of Thea Harrison's debut effort Dragon Bound: put Justin Bieber's album on perpetual playback in the background, sacrifice three kittens before the altar of Takhisis, the goddess of evil dragons, and you will see the words on the cover rearranging to tell the truth - Overrated and Overhyped.
Yes, this is part of a series, called The Elder Races. Simply put, this story is about our heroine, half-Wyr Pia Giovanni, who is coerced by her ex-lover into stealing a special coin from the biggest Wyr of them all, Dragos Cuelebre. Dragos soon catches up with her, and we get a typical "Overwhelm Me With Your Alpha Awesomeness" story where the hero just swaggers and swings that big fat thing around as our heroine falls into a stupor of orgasmic proportions. Some bad guys show up to kidnap our heroine, who has somewhere along the way gotten knocked up with the Special Magic Fruit of His Awesomely Awesome Seed, the bad guys get humiliated by the combined Power of The Sexy Awesome of our hero and heroine, and off you go, buy the next fifteen hundred books in the series.
Let's start with the world building. It's generic beyond belief. The best way to describe this setting is to think of Earth, then add Wyrs, Fae, Elves, Goblins, and everything else that has been featured in countless urban fantasy romps that have come before this. Is there anything special about this particular setting? Well, not really. Ms Harrison has also studied faithfully the phraseology style of cheesy woo-woo writing, so there are plenty of words that begin with Capital Letters here. It's not just enough for a name to be a name, it has to be a Name. We can't just have people with power, they have to have Power. Of course, then we have the Elves, Fae, and Wyrs. Alas, there is no capital H for humans though - they clearly aren't special enough and don't deserve the woo-woo wang in this setting. Oh, and you are probably wondering what a Wyr is. It's like a dragon, or a wyrm, but I guess Ms Harrison decides this once to be original so she removes the "m" from "wyrm" and capitalizes the W so that we have the awesome Wyrs. Then again, these guys spend a lot of time in human form when it comes to shagging their honeypots, so they are no different from those vegetarian vampires and werewolves out there.
Human women just love my fifty-inch dragon mojo!
It's not enough that this book pretty much takes everything from better urban fantasy romps out there and blends them into a flavorless gruel of a setting, oops, I mean, Flavorless Gruel of a Setting. The author also decides to forgo subtlety and amps up the awesome factor of the hero and the other born-with-pee-pee sequel baits to a ridiculous degree. Dragos Chupacabra, or whatever his last name is, isn't just a Wyr who has lived for thousands of years, he is also awesome, feared and respected by all, full of power, has a fifty-inch penis, and, oh, he can heal himself. In other words, there is no suspense to be had even if our hero is trapped in a nuclear plant on the meltdown, because he'd just shrug off the damage like nobody's business. Dragos is also a "multibillionaire" who is in charge of a company that controls everything, and it is - and I quote:
...the umbrella for any number of businesses, and it consistently ranked in the top ten of the world's largest corporations. Casinos, hotels and resorts, stock trading, shipping, international risk assessment (private army for hire), banking. He employed thousands of
sequel baits (guys only please, gals have cooties and no romance readers like them) Fae, Elves, Wyr and humans worldwide, although the majority of Wyrkind preferred to live in New York State so that they could live within the law and protection of his demesne.
So, in addition to running a dragon Mafia conglomerate of the world, Dragos is also the boss of everyone, with enough hours in a day to also shag our heroine, guard his treasures that are kept in the Kitchen Sink of Every Freaking Cliché in the Universe, and still has time to sleep. Amazing. You can't accuse Ms Harrison of making things up and tossing everything nilly-willy into her setting, because there is just too much awesome in this story.
Oh, and Dragos's awesome sperm can blow through the defenses of an IUD. No, I am not making this up. Seriously, every cell of our hero, right down to every sperm, is just filled with unbelievable awesomeness.
How about the romance? Oh come on, are you kidding? What romance? It's lust at first grope in this story, maybe because of Pia's hidden Power - surprise, she's a Special Heroine! - or maybe because we women are expected to swoon into a rapturous angina at such a hunk that his very one-dimensional awesomeness is reason enough to put out to a dragon. Ms Harrison doesn't like to surprise me, so the "romance" follows the formulaic trajectory of lust to alpha male possessiveness to sex to woo-woo pregnancy with awesome baby. This is a big problem for me because Dragos has existed for an impossibly long time. According to the book, he "had been born along with the solar system". He is older than Jesus, in other words. So why on earth would he fall for the heroine? Then again, maybe I'm overthinking things. Dragon alpha male hero = hawt. Who needs personality and character development?
Human women just love my fifty-inch dragon mojo!
As for Pia, on the bright side, she can kick some rear ends when she's not with the hero. When she's with Dragos the Wyr Wonder, she turns into a familiar waterspout so grateful for his amorous molestations and constantly gushing about how he has provided stability in her life. Not that Pia is in any way original herself. She's a familiar heroine that comes complete with forced sassiness to mask the fact that she's for the most part a helpless damsel needing a strong alpha male to make her life whole.
Dragon Bound is competently written, but it's hard for me to get all worked up over this spectacularly unoriginal mess that attempts to emulate the efforts of better urban fantasy romances out there only to end up being a turgid, overwrought, and logistically impossible masterpiece of insipid banality. Simply, truly, one of the most overhyped duds that I have come across.
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