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Saturday, April 9, 2016


Author:  Ashlyn Chase 
Plot Type: Paranormal Chick Lit (CH) mixed with Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
Ratings:  Violence2; Sensuality4; Humor—3 (but trying for 4) 
Publisher and Titles: Sourcebooks Casablanca
          I Dream of Dragons (4/2016)
          My Wild Irish Dragon (9/2016)
          Never Dare a Dragon (TBA)

This ongoing post was revised and updated on 9/16/2016 to include a review of My Wild Irish Dragon, the second novel in this series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of the first novel.

                   NOVEL 2:  My Wild Irish Dragon                     
Dragon shifter Chloe Arish is hell-bent on becoming a Boston firefighter. She uses her Irish charm and fake documents to score an interview, knowing she has to work every bit as hard as a man-harder if she wants their respect.

Born into a legendary Boston firefighting family, phoenix shifter Ryan Fiero can't possibly let someone best him on the training course or the job. He'd never hear the end of it. When a feisty new recruit comes along who's determined to do just that, Ryan plots to kick her outuntil their sizzling chemistry turns explosive.

     Once again Chase presents us with a story filled with non-shifting dragons who remain in their human form 99% of the time. And once again, I wonder why she calls this series BOSTON DRAGONS when we never really see any dragons. In this novel, the heroine shifts only once near the end of the story, and even then, we don't get much of a description. Her hero is a phoenix—another non-shifting shifter—who takes his bird form briefly at the end of the book. Ashley includes a few more descriptive details for him, but not nearly enough. Seventy per cent of the way into the story, we get this: “A bird about the size of a hawk emerged from the pile of ash…Yellow and orange feathers appeared as the bird flapped its wings and hovered in front of her. Its eyes glowed white hot and glittered—like diamonds. Then the creature turned and flew out the giant hole in the side of the building.” Yep…that’s all we get, from beginning to end. So my question remains: Why bother to make these characters shifters with supernatural abilities if you aren't going to use those traits as elements of the plot?

     The publisher's blurb (above) pretty much sums up the plot. Chloe (sister of book one's Rory and Shannon) has an immediate love-hate chemistry with Ryan. The two go through a brief period of sardonic sniping and flaky friction before they fall completely in lust and become a couple, sneaking away for kisses and hotel-room trysts to keep their fire-fighting colleagues from learning about their romantic relationship. Although Chase includes a few fire-fighting scenes, these are usually quite brief and are only incidental to the romance. 

     It's a mystery to me why Chase would write about a fire-fighting dragon and a phoenix and then spend most of her story-telling ink on their all-too-familiar relationship scenes: awkward dialogue, sit-com family scenes, silly situations with the Irish cousins, and a few graphic bedroom scenes, which—I assume—must be the main attraction. Implausibly, even though Chloe is a thousand years old, she is still a virgin. It's as if Chase included every single overdone paranormal romance trope that she could stuff into the story. 

     And here is one more improbable story element: In this mythology, Mother Nature (aka Gaia) is supposed to rule over all of the paranormals on Earth, but she has never bothered to introduce herself to the Fiero family...not until Chloe gets romantically involved with Ryan, one of their seven fire-fighting sons. If you have read Chase's series, you'll know that Gaia pops in and out of the other paranormals' lives at will, making and enforcing all kinds of stringent rules and forcing the characters into many unwilling compromises. So, why in the world has she allowed a family of phoenixes to live in Boston for centuries with absolutely no restrictions and with no knowledge that she even exists? This major anomaly is never explained.

     The plot has a number of other weaknesses, mostly story lines that are briefly introduced and then disappear (e.g., a fortune teller's prophecy that never really pans out, a misogynistic fire fighter who suddenly becomes Chloe's biggest fan, a parrot-sitting job for Chloe that is completely unconnected with any part of the plot), but these are the least of the book's problems. 

     I have read and reviewed the first two books of this series, but I will not be reviewing any more of them, although I will continue to post new titles and publisher's blurbs as they are made available. 

     Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from My Wild Irish Dragon on its page where you can click on the cover art (for print) or the "Listen" icon (for audio). 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of My Wild Irish Dragon is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.

     This series takes place in the same world as two of Chase's previous series: STRANGE NEIGHBORS (SN) and FLIRTING WITH FANGS (FWF). To read an overview of the world-building and my reviews of the novels in those series, just click on the pink-link series titles above. Click HERE to go to a page on Chase's web site that contains the cover art and publisher's blurbs for all six books in the SN and FWF series. Click HERE to go to Chase's blog.

     The world-building is so simple that I don't need to go into much detail. The series is set in present-day Boston in a world in which supernaturals live amongst unknowing humans. Mother Nature (aka Gaia) is the most powerful supernatural of them alla cranky, willful, impatient taskmaster of a goddess who constantly pops in to interfere with characters' lives. Her mantra is, "Do what I tell you and don't break the rules, even if I fail to tell you what the rules are."

     In the previous two series, the supernaturals included witches, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and a single dragon. In this series, more dragons travel to Boston, and they are the romantic leads in these novels.

                       NOVEL 1:  I Dream of Dragons                        
When Rory Arish and his two fiery dragon siblings are driven out of their ancestral Irish home, it seems their luck has run out-until they arrive in Boston and find a paranormal-friendly apartment building. Finally, Rory has a place to call home. There's only one problem: Rory's new lair has simultaneously been rented to an infuriating woman who is as stubborn as she is beautiful and will not leave 'her' apartment matter how steamed he may be.

Amber McNally is a down-on-her-luck flight attendant. She needs this apartment, and not even a fire-breathing dragon with his Irish charm and scorching good looks is going to scare her away. Holing up in their respective corners, a battle of wills ensues. Who will be the first to blink...or give in to their off-the-charts chemistry and decide to make this unorthodox living arrangement a little more permanent? 

     So…this is a series about dragons. But my very first question for the author is this: Why did you place a total of seven dragons in this book, but then keep them all in human form through 99% of the story? Even in the brief scene at the very end in which two of them (both minor characters) have a relatively fire-free fight in dragon form, Chase provides very few descriptive details. For most of the book, the "dragons" are all human all the time, except for a few times when a faint swirl of smoke escapes through their noses if they get upset about something. Readers who are looking for some fiery, up-in-the-air dragon action will be very disappointed.

     Unfortunately, this major design flaw is just the beginning of a series of weak spots. The first few chapters bounce back and forth haphazardly between three dragon siblings in the village of Ballyhoo, Ireland, and a human woman named Amber McNally, a flight attendant who is recruited into the employ of Mother Nature as a modern muse—the muse of air travel. In both mythology and modern usage, a muse is a goddess or power that inspires an artist or a poet or some other creative person. In actuality, Amber is a guardian, not a muse. Whenever she hears a pilot calling "Mayday," she must use her new teleporting skills to put herself into the plane and keep the plane from crashing by speaking calm advice into the pilot's mind.

     The Irish dragon trio is made up of elder brother, Rory Arish and his two sisters, Chloe and Shannon. They live in the caretaker's house on rocky, oceanfront land owned by their family for thousands of years. In fact, all three of these characters are at least one thousand years of age. Behind their small house lies their crumbling family castle, hidden from human eyes by the magic of three local leprechauns.

     As the story opens, the leprechauns accuse the Arish dragons of stealing their gold. Even though the dragons deny committing the crime, the leprechauns throw them out of Ireland, and the siblings find themselves transported magically to a fishing boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Eventually, they land in Boston and look for rooms at the paranormal apartment house that is the center of activity in Chase's SN series. After meeting Bliss and Brandee and their husbands (all from FWF), Amber, too, ends up at the paranormal apartment house.

     Due to a mix-up, Rory and Amber are assigned to the same tiny apartment—the last one available, so they decide to follow the "possession is nine-tenths of the law" rule. Each claims half the space with the primary rule being that the first one to leave the apartment loses it to the other. That puts the two in close contact 24/7, and even though they dislike each other, it is immediately obvious that they will soon fall in lust/love. The "possession" rule means that Amber must somehow teleport in and out of the apartment in response to "Mayday" calls for help without letting Rory know that she is gone.

     Is this enough plot for you? Well—ready or not—there's much more. It seems that one of the leprechauns is a dragon-hating crook. Also, Rory and his sisters have three black-sheep, greedy cousins who want to take over the Arish castle and all of the treasure it holds. Additionally, Shannon has a fiancé back in Ireland who comes to Boston to track her down. Plus, Chad (the ghost from SN) is up to his usual shenanigans. And one more thing: Bliss is nine months pregnant, so you know from the start that a birth will take place at some point before this convoluted story ends. You can imagine that the plot jumps all over the place from story line to story line as Chase desperately tries to keep all of the plot balls in the air at the same time.

     And there is one more problem—one that I raised about Chase's FWF series. All of the Irish villagers are portrayed as stereotypical Irishmen: hard-drinking, constantly brawling, lazy, easily led, red-haired, etc. Chase used Italian stereotypes in one of the FWF novels, and these Irish tropes are just as offensive.

     All in all, this series is on a par (sub-par) with the other two series: one-dimensional characters, implausible events, a hopscotch plot, a weak romance, and stilted dialogue with awkward attempts at humor. For some hard-to-understand reason, RT Book Reviews liked the dialogue much more than I did and gave this book four stars. Click HERE to get a second opinion by reading that review. 
Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from I Dream of Dragons on its page where you can click on the cover art (for print) or the "Listen" icon (for audio). 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of I Dream of Dragons is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.

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