Monday 2 March 2015

#CBR7 Book 25: "Dragon Bound" by Thea Harrison

Page count: 323 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Dragos Cuelebre is probably the oldest Wyr-kind (shape-shifter) in existence. He's certainly the only dragon. Around since the dawn of time, he is now one of the richest and mot powerful individuals on the planet. He's also very bored, having just gone through the motions for decades. All that changes when someone has the audacity to steal something from his believed to be impossible to locate hoard, again supposed to be protected by impenetrable wards. He becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking down and catching the thief and discovering how the theft was possible in the first place.

Pia Giovanni, half wyr, half human, is blackmailed by her weaselly ex-boyfriend to steal an item from Dragos' hoard. The only reason her ex has anything to blackmail her with, is because while they were still together, Pia foolishly trusted him with some secrets about herself and her abilities that her mother had made her promise always to keep quiet about. She knows that stealing from Cuelebre is tantamount to suicide, but she also realises that if the people making her scum of an ex blackmail her don't get what they want, she's likely to end up dead even faster. She forces her ex to agree to a magical binding, so that he can never speak about her to anyone again, before handing over the item she stole. Then she tries to flee as far as possible, before the dragon gets her. Because her mother was extremely protective and very paranoid, she has stashes of fake identities and ready cash all over the city, however, when the creature that hunts you has both powerful magic and unlimited resources at his command, it's limited how far you can run.

Dragos is intrigued by Pia, especially because even when she's terrified of him eating her, she stands her ground and argues with him. So used to blind loyalty and/or fear, he finds her amusing (also attractive, natch, this IS a paranormal romance). He's also very curious as to what her wyr-form might be, as her scent doesn't match up with any he can remember encountering in his extremely long life. He quickly realises that Pia was being used by his arch-enemy, King Urien of the Dark Fey, and resolves to keep her under his protection so Urien isn't able to use her again. Lots of action and drama takes place before the two figure out that they're each other's perfect mate.

This book was brought to my attention by fellow Cannonballer Katie's enthusiastic review. Long time readers of my reviews will know that I enjoy the occasional, bat-shit crazy-plotted paranormal romance, like the ones written by Kresley Cole. Unfortunately, in her recent books, Ms. Cole appears to have gone completely off the reservation, and the books aren't really fun anymore, just dumb. So I most definitely had an opening in my reading list for something similarly amusing, and based on the first book of Thea Harrison's Elder Races, these will fit the bill nicely.

As I think the unofficial rule book for paranormal romance writers specifies, all the dude in this book are large, muscular and very hot. Dragos is obviously the alphaest of all the alpha males, nearly seven feet tall, golden-eyed, gorgeous, wealthy and powerful. He's the boss of all the other wyr-kind dudes who are clearly going to be heroes of their own books down the line. All of the dudes who work for Dragos seem to like Pia more or less instantly, especially after she proves that even if she's tiny compared to them, she's not afraid to speak her mind and she can wipe the floor with them thanks in part to her unique wyr-abilities and a lifetime of martial arts training. I think what I love most about this book is that Thea Harrison is clearly aware of how ridiculous some of the stuff she's writing is, she's in on the joke, and that's what makes it all work. Dragos also has a harpy working for him, she seems to inexplicably hate Pia, possibly because his PR-rep, a tiny fairy who's the only surviving heir to Urien's throne decides she's going to be BFF with Pia the second after they first meet. Heavens forfend Pia make more than one female friend.

As well as a rollercoaster ride of a plot, there's a fair amount of rather epic sex. While not quite in the realm of the Thunder Sex (tm) that can be found in several of Ms. Cole's books, there is still quite a lot of bow chica-wow-wow going on here. Dragos and Pia seem to think that the best place to initiate their more intimate relationship is while fleeing from hostile goblins, which I can't see is the most arousing of settings, but what do I know? I am neither a millennia-old dragon or Pia's own unique brand of wyr-kind.

I really liked Pia as a character. She knows she's doing something monumentally stupid by stealing from Dragos, but doesn't really have a choice. She tries to protect herself as best she can afterwards, and refuses to be cowed or intimidated, even when facing down a literal dragon. If she's going to die, she may as well give him a piece of her mind first. The reason she ended up blackmailed is because she let her guard down in a brief moment of foolish vulnerability. Pia has clearly had a fairly lonely life, especially after her mother died. Always taught to hide her true identity, to never make lasting connections, never make friends or reveal anything about herself. She wants love and a place to belong and she also feels deeply inadequate about the wyr-side of her identity, having never been able to shift when she was younger. I honestly don't know if it was supposed to be difficult to figure out what animal Pia's wyr-self was - I think I may just have read too many paranormals and myths, because to me it was pretty blatantly obvious from early on.

There appears to be seven books out in the Elder Races series so far, as well as several novellas. Goodreads tells me book 8 is out in May. As I'm liking the world-building and the various supernatural creatures (shapeshifters, sorry, Wyrkind. Faeries both dark and light, witches, vampires and the like), I suspect I will have lots of fun catching up throughout the year.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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