by Bianca D'Arc, Summer Devon, and Marie Harte; paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $14.50, ISBN 978-1-59998-807-8
I Dream Of Dragons Volume 1 is a collection of three stories that were previously released (and reviewed here) separately. I've collected the three reviews here for your convenience.
Let me try to get this straight. In Bianca D'Arc's Wings Of Change, there are knights and there are dragons. Both serve the King Roland. A dragon and a knight are partnered together, although not in that way as you may think. A dragon cannot be mated with its destined la-la-la mate unless the knight partner is married first. Is that right? Don't ask me why the knight has to be married first though. It's never explained here.
Our heroine is Lucia de Alagarithia, "last of my line, lately of the Jinn", whatever Jinn is. Lucia is the epitome of everything annoying about the Mary Sue heroine. She acts like a helpless little girl prone to tears and she has no impetus in life other than to make other people happy. When she speaks, it is always in a whisper, in a manner close to tears, or in a hesitant manner. Ugh.
She is a barmaid in a tavern where our dragon Reynor has retreated to in order to nurse his wounds. Reynor loves Linea but for some reason he'd rather die than to get help. Lucia is special because she can hear dragons so at the verge of hysterical tears she runs to the castle to tell Linea that she has done her best to heal Reynor but Reynor is about to die so oh, where are the Carebears? Someone needs a healthy dose of belly laser beam of love ASAP! On her way to seeing Linea and Rey's knight partner Kaden, she bumps into Marcus, our hero.
After Lucia, Marcus, Linea, and our super-healer Queen rush off to save Rey, Lucia starts crying because she's channeling Counselor Troi on crack after she asks Marcus how Rey got injured.
"May I ask..." Lucia's words were a hesitant whisper. "How did it happen?"
"It was stupid, really." Marcus's hands tightened on her waist, fingers digging into her hips before he seemed to realize what he was doing and released her. "Have you heard about the fighting on the border?" When she nodded, he continued, "We were involved in a skirmish the last time out. Sometimes with these kinds of engagements, you get caught low, within range of ground weapons. It happens." He shrugged. "I saw Rey dodge an arrow. He lost altitude and came within sword distance of a group of cavalry. In such instances, the knight can engage with his own weapons, which Kaden did - and very well too - until one got past his guard and a wild swing took a chunk out of Reynor's wing, down near the joint. It's one of the few places not well protected by scale - it needs to be flexible, you see. A freak of luck for the adversary, though Rey's blast of flame took care of him and his horse soon enough. Still, Rey barely stayed aloft and we had to practically tow him back here. The queen saw to him that night, but the kind of healing he needs is tricky. It's not simply a matter of sewing together something that was torn. A wedge of his wing was actually cut out."
Wait a minute, so Marcus knows that Rey is injured. So does Kaden. And no one is looking for Rey? He's just hiding in the tavern downtown! Hello?
But it gets better.
Tears flowed down Lucia's face as she heard the tale, watching the beautiful young queen try to banish the raging infection. Turning in Marcus's loose embrace, Lucia sobbed against the man's chest. She knew she was overreacting, but she couldn't help
herself. Rey was so special. He was such a good and kind dragon. She couldn't imagine him crippled for life. It was too painful to contemplate.
Ms D'Arc, you have to be kidding me.
Because Lucia is a Special Carebear with Lots of Love For Everyone, she is soon the very special Mate for both Kaden and Marcus since they all tell her that she completes them and what not. I have nothing more to say other than I'm just happy I did not die of sugar shock at the end of this very special edition of Little Poor Special Lucia Does The Men Who Love Her, Adore Her, Want Her, and Call Her Special. Because Kaden is now married, Linea and Rey can get officially mated too and now everyone is one big Full House family, only this time Rebecca is sleeping with both Uncle Jesse and Danny Tanner and the horrible kids all have scales instead of pigtails.
This story also feels horribly confusing with its constant references to characters and events that have taken place prior to the story, as if it is a non-standalone story that is part of some ongoing series. Looking at the author's backlist with Samhain Publishing, most of them featuring horny dragons, I suspect that this is indeed the case.
This one is best left for her fans as well as readers who adore badly-written Little Match Girl Who Doesn't Die But Realizes How Special She Is And Finds Love Even As She Loves Everybody fantasies. Everyone else, don't say I didn't warn you.
Summer Devon's The Knight's Challenge is set in an alternate version of present day Earth where there are dragons living among humans, not always peacefully of course. In New England, a dragon named Sarkany has done enough to own pretty much every other building in town. He's like the man who owns the town, only this man happens to be a dragon in human form. Miranda Benson is a member of a guild that goes way back to the days when knights hunt dragons down and keep the heads as trophies. Apparently she's been a nuisance where Sarkany is concerned, which leads to a meeting of those two.
Miranda proposes a challenge where he will give away all his material possessions and live like a common fellow to prove that he's not just a greedy fellow. If he fails, he'll leave town for good. If he succeeds, he wants her as part of his "treasures".
I like what Summer Devon is trying to do here and to an extent I find this story a quaint and amusing one. However, it is very apparent that Miranda is way out of her league when it comes to matching brainpower with Sarkany. He's humoring her, it's obvious. The fact that the heroine is hopelessly outmatched by the hero from the get go makes this story less entertaining than it could have been. Miranda is such a silly putz in Sarkany's presence that I wonder how jaded and bored the dragon has to be to consider taking this woman as his mate.
There's also the issue of Miranda at first acting like she's not keen on dragons only to very easily succumb to her lust to Sarkany. Then again, considering that I already suspect that she's not really all together upstairs...
But there is another greater issue at work here. Maybe it's just me, but Sarkany is a real dragon. Scales, fangs, and who knows how big he really is. Therefore, I find myself taken aback when he decides to have Miranda. And change her into a dragon. I suppose dragons can look cool especially when they are all shiny and what-not in the sunlight and things could be worse - Sarkany could have been a llama instead of a dragon, for example - but really, did I mention that Sarkany is a real dragon? Who's been known to gobble up a few humans as snacks in the past?
I suppose I can imagine that there are some people out there who will feel desire upon looking at a scaly reptilian dinosaur thingie. That doesn't mean I can make myself buy the romance here though.
I love the setting of Marie Harte's The Dragons' Demon. It's pretty interesting. Set in an alternate Earth, we have dragons, angels, and demons existing in the same world as humans. Dragons usually opt to live away from humans, usually with the angels in heaven or the demons in hell, and they have a queen named Carmaron.
In this story, our demon heroine Eve Sinclair is dragged into mess thanks to a bet with her brothers. Her brothers have stolen a dragon egg from Carmaron and hidden it away on Earth. Even better, they set things up so that the dragons will believe that the angels stole the egg. Eve is now rushing to locate the egg and do her best to set things straight with everyone before diplomatic relations between the dragons, demons, and angels sour completely. Or worse, the dragon hatches from the egg and goes on an eating spree before Eve can get to it. Just as she locates the egg, Carmaron's youngest son, the dragon Ranton, shows up all ready to rumble. This ought to be good.
Ought to be, that is. The story soon turns into all about dragon/demon sex and, later, some rather creepy dragon ménage à trois with a precocious dragon brat. If reptilian erotica is your thing, you'll love this one. Me, I'm disappointed that all the world building done by the author here is eventually shoved to the background for sex and more sex. There isn't even any build-up in the romance. It's just sex and more sex with the characters giving lip service of the "Yeah, yeah, we're in love, really, we had sex for so many hours and in some many positions, so of course we are in love!" variety.
But I understand that the author intends to start a series based on the setting she has done here, so maybe her future books in this series will do the setting justice. In the meantime, The Dragons' Demon promises many things but only delivers the sex scenes. I know, sex sells, but I'm still disappointed that this story doesn't aim to be anything more than yet another silly paranormal erotic romance.
By taking the average of the individual rating of all three stories, this anthology gets a rating of 52.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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