by Kathleen Scott and Nina Mamone, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $14.50, ISBN 978-1-59998-807-8
I Dream Of Dragons Volume 2 is a collection of two stories that were previously released (and reviewed here) separately. I've collected the two reviews here for your convenience.
In Kathleen Scott's Dragon Tamer, there are dragons living in a hatchery on the island of Cambry. Not only then, there are humans who act as shepherds of sorts to these dragons, ensuring that these creatures are fat, happy, and well. Unfortunately, an outbreak of blight is killing these dragons at the moment. Our hero, the hatchery director Darion Archer, realizes that he has no way of saving his dragons unless he requests for aid from the International Field Marshall.
Our heroine Serrah Gayle is sent to the rescue. The thing is, I am to believe that the IFM will send an agent to a mission of utmost priority... without telling her the nature of her mission. If Darion is the one who doesn't inform the IFM the nature of his problems, then I still have problems believing that the IFM will answer his request.
At any rate, Serrah ends up on Cambry where she has to battle her fear of dragons and Darion's prejudice about women in general. Believe it or not, he's annoyed that Serrah isn't "loving and nurturing" but "a badge with boobs and an attitude". Does he expect a "loving and nurturing" woman to solve his problems? And then he's annoyed that the IFM sends a female over because clearly they are underestimating the severity of his problem. I can see why the poor dragons are dying if they have this boob in charge of the hatchery.
He spared a glance at her profile as she tapped away on her handheld. How could such a beautiful woman be so damn cold and unfeeling? They didn't program that into their agents, did they? Sure Tavil had changed when he'd joined the IFM, but Darion had always figured the training had only amplified the quiet inner strength that was inherent in his brother's personality.
The "damn cold and unfeeling" thing Serrah has been doing so far is her asking questions about the problem he is having. Which, if you ask me, is what an agent on the case should be doing all along. I suppose the man is expecting Serrah to cry or faint in order to show her "warm feelings" or something. How nice that he also allows his brother to be "cold and unfeeling" while a woman on the other hand isn't afforded the same standards. I think Darion has some serious mommy issues.
Serrah then points out the fact that their vehicle begin to act like it's about to die out on them and Darion goes off to himself, oh no, she is such a city gal, ugh. And on and on until I'm convinced that this man either has no sense of priorities (the dragons are dying, but oh no, girls have cooties so let's drive the girl away) or he had been picked on by girls in the playground when he was a kid.
And when Serrah finally wins him over as a capable agent, my head hits the desk.
An uneasy pang beat low in his heart. Serrah Gayle may be one tough agent, but she looked much too delicate and feminine to hold her own against one of the drug runners that frequented the island.
Is it too much for him to specifically ask for a male agent in the first place and spare me the trouble of following this mental headcase go on and on about his issues with women?
The dragons are really cute in this story and the plot of someone trying to kill off the dragons is actually pretty decent, but the author, in her attempt to generate some unnecessary internal conflict between Darion and Serrah, ends up making Darion come off like a potential bunny-boiling twit. This one won't be so bad if we redo the whole thing with a different hero altogether.
In Nina Mamone's Hard To Guard, wyrms (who can shape-change into humans) do exist in the world but Guardians are charged to keep their existence a secret from unsuspecting humans. This is fine except for the fact that these wyrms can be a nuisance to guard as they can be quite naughty indeed. Such is the wyrm who has gone AWOL in this story, much to Guardian Connor McKenna's irritation. His charge Raul has disappeared to who knows where and it is his responsible to locate the mischievous wyrm before he causes too much havoc.
In any case, the wyrms needed babysitters. Not every second — they weren't total vegetables — but more like a daily check-in. Someone needed to make sure that they hadn't maxed out their credit cards buying sparkly diamonds on QVC, or gorged themselves at the pastry shop, or found a willing partner and sexed themselves into a coma.
Sorcha had once heard of a wyrm that had taken human form and eaten its way through five Starbucks in an hour's time. By the time they'd got to him, the stores were cleaned out — the pastries, the coffee, the whipped cream... everything. The wyrm had been so hyped on caffeine and sugar he'd been breathing fire. Only tiny puffs on each exhale, but they were still lucky there had been no damage and that no one had gone to the tabloids.
Fortunately for Connor, he isn't the only Guardian who is missing his charge at the moment. Guardian Sorcha's charge Louis has also gone AWOL. She and Connor have been lusting after each other for five years but for some reason they act like infatuated kids in the playground all the while, with her saying things to drive him away and he being content to drool after her from afar. With a plot involving wyrm semen brewing (don't ask, but it's not as bad as it could have been, let's just say), these two may finally have a chance to work things out together.
I find myself enjoying Hard To Guard despite myself. I am not to keen on the fact that the sex scenes here take place because the characters pretty much forget themselves and the job they are doing at the heat of the moment. The author also creates a plot that brings up the very serious threat of sexual assault which doesn't sit well with the tongue-in-cheek feel of the story. The ending is too abrupt. Most importantly, Sorcha and Connor must be some of the most addled twits around to have misread each other for five years.
Yet, for all the flaws in this story, I find myself enjoying the story mostly due to the hero. Connor is a pretty delicious hero as he's all macho and action figure in the making (he's a construction worker, mind you) but at the same time he's also tongue-tied and introverted when it comes to women. The sex scenes can get pretty heated up as well.
I understand that Hard To Guard is Nina Mamone's debut effort. If this is the case, this is a pretty good, if very flawed, read and I will be interested to see what Ms Mamone can do with a longer story.
By taking the average of the individual rating of the two stories, this anthology gets a rating of 75.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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