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Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Author:  Katie MacAlister 
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence3-4; Sensuality4; Humor—4-5 
Publisher and Titles:  Hachette
          Dragon Fall (7/2015)
          Dragon Storm (11/2015)
          Dragon Soul (3/2016) (FINAL)

This ongoing post was revised and updated on 4/26/2016 to include a review of Dragon Soul, the third and FINAL novel in this series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of the first two novels. 

                          NOVEL 3:  Dragon Soul                            
     Sophea Long knows that escorting her octogenarian client to Europe will be an adventure. Mrs. P has a habit of stealing anything shiny, and the former "hoochikoo dancer" is a lot faster than she looks. But Sophea hadn't counted on Mrs. P leading her right into the arms of a smoldering, dark-haired stranger who kisses like a dream. If only he'd give up all this nonsense about Sophea being some kind of dragon.

     There's a reason Rowan Dakar is known as the Dragon Breaker. The last thing he needs is to fall for a woman who literally sets him aflame every time they kiss. After all, he has a missionone that will finally free him of dragonkin for good. He can't afford to be distracted by the funniest, most desirable woman he's ever set eyes on. But no prophecy in the world can ever stop true love.

     In this final book in the trilogy, Rowan Dakar finds his mate in the usual humorous, complicated, dangerous manner that his sisters found their mates in the previous two novels. By the end of the story, nearly all of the dragons and mates (along with Jim the demon dog and Gary the bodiless head) congregate for the final showdown scene that ties up all of the loose ends that have been dangling throughout the series.

     The novel's heroine, Sophea Long, joins the crowd of MacAlister's patented feisty heroines who don't conform to the ultra-thin supermodel beauty exemplar that is rampant in America today. In fact, Sophea describes herself as being "on the fluffy side," and that's just fine with Rowan, who is crazy about her curves. 

     As the story opens, Sophea has been hired to accompany an elderly woman on a trip to Egypt. Mrs. Papadopolous (aka Mrs. P) is a charmingly eccentric lady with a penchant for stealing other people's "shinies," so Sophea spends much of her time removing stolen objects from Mrs. P's luggage and returning them to their rightful owners. While they are on the plane to Cairo, a strange, scary man with weird eyes tries to put a silver bracelet on Mrs. P, but Sophea manages to stop him with the help of Rowan, a good-looking man who then sticks close to Sophea and Mrs. P for the remainder of their trip.

     Rowan has been tasked by his sister, Bee, to recover a magical ring (which has appeared in previous books) from Mrs. P, who stole it from Bael some time in the past. The ring is supposed to have powerful magical qualities that could end the world if Bael ever gets his hands on it again. Naturally, Bael has sent his demons after the ring, so not only does Rowan have to get the ring, but he also has to fight off Bael's demons. 

     Rowan and Sophea are immediately attracted to one another, but for awhile Rowan suspects that Sophea might be working for Bael because he believes that she is actually a Red Dragon. There's a good reason why he thinks that, but it's a very long story that I won't recount here because it would spoil the book for you. 

    Although Sophea is slightly more intelligent than most of MacAlister's heroines, she has the same annoying exclamatory habit as Rowan's sister, Bee. While Bee is prone to excited exclamations that include the word "sweet," Sophea tends to spout "g" alliteratives like these: "Great Caesar's gizzard"; "Great Caesar's ghost"; "Great galloping ghosts"; "Glorioski"; and "Goodness gracious, great balls of fire." (She also throws in one non-g interjection: "Jeezum-crow!") This is all quite silly and gets old very fast.

     The plot has a few bumps (i.e., several implausible actions, one or two events that occur and are then completely ignored, and a too-quick and too-easy pair of challenges). But, on the whole, the story holds together better than the previous two books, probably because this story fully resolves all of the outstanding conflicts.

     Needless to say, the book is full of the usual snarky dialogue, angst-filed interior monologues, x-rated love scenes, and wild and crazy demon battles, along with a river cruise through the Underworld. You'll need to read the first two books first in order to fully understand earlier events that have precipitated the action in this book.

     If you are a DRAGONS fan, you will probably enjoy reading this book just to find out what finally happens with the magical ring. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Dragon Soul on the book's page. Just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon. 

     This is the fourth sub-series within MacAlister's four-part DRAGONS SERIES. The previous sub-series are as follows: 
  >  AISLING GRAY: four novels and one novella written between 2004 and 2010
  >  SILVER DRAGONS: a trilogy written in 2008 and 2009
  >  LIGHT DRAGONS: a trilogy written between 2010 and 2012

     Click HERE to go to the post that contains my summaries and reviews of all of the books in the first three series. Click HERE to go to the "Dragon Handbook" on MacAlister's web site.

     The weyr—the collective group of all dragons—is made up of six septs (aka clans) that coexist with the mortal world. The mortals, however, don't know that the dragons are living right next door to them. These dragons generally use their human form (for the males that means tall, handsome, sexy, and über-alpha), but can shift into their dragon form for battles. Five of the septs are named after colors: Black, Blue, Green, Red, and Silver. The sixth sept, the Light Dragons, is the newest and the smallest.

     In each book, a human with access to some sort of magical power meets and immediately falls in lust/love with a dragon. In this trilogy, those humans are Irish-Senegalese siblings who were born in America and raised in Sweden: Aoife Dakar, Bee Ndala, and Rowan Dakar. NOTE: Although Bee's last name is given as "Ndala" in Dragon Fall, she calls herself Bee Dakar in Dragon Storm.

     As the trilogy opens, all of the septs are under a terrible demonic curse, placed on them by the evil Asmodeus when he destroyed the weyr. Asmodeus is the premiere prince who rules the other seven princes of Abaddon, the underworld. Since Asmodeus activated the curse, the septs haven't been able to communicate with one another because they cannot understand each other's words. The worse part of the curse—the part that destroyed the weyr—is that the dragons of each sept are under a magical compulsion to attack dragons from other septs on sight. All of the dragons are trying to locate Asmodeus' magic ring so that they can use it to break the curse, but since they cannot communicate with one another and cannot fight together against Asmodeus, their hopes are dim.

                           NOVEL 1:  Dragon Fall                            
     For Aoife Dakar, seeing is believing-and she’s seen some extraordinary things. It’s too bad no one else believes that she witnessed a supernatural murder at an outdoor fair. Returning to the scene for proof, Aoife encounters a wise-cracking demon dog-and a gloriously naked man who can shift into a dragon and kiss like a god. Now thrust into a fantastical world that’s both exhilarating and terrifying, Aoife is about to learn just how hot a dragon’s fire burns.

     Kostya has no time for a human woman with endless questions, no matter how gorgeous or tempting she is. He must break the curse that has splintered the dragon clans before more of his kind die. But his powerful attraction to Aoife runs much deeper than the physical-and there may be more to her than even his sharp dragon eyes can see. To survive the coming battle for the fate of his race, he needs a mate of true heart and soul.

     Of the three story lines in this book, only two are resolved: the love story and the fate of Jim, the demon dog (a carryover character from the three earlier DRAGONS series). The conflict that deals with breaking Asmodeus' curse is touched on lightly, but is far from being resolved when this book ends. 

   Dragon Fall is basically all about the budding romance between Aoife (pronounced EE-fuh) Ndakaaru (aka Aoife Dakar) and Konstantin Nikolai Fekete (aka Kostya), the wyvern (chief) of the Black Dragons. Both Aoife and Kostya have tragic pasts: She has spent the past two years in a mental institution because she saw a supernatural event at the local Goth Faire and refused to back down on her story. He was captured and tortured for seven years by rogue dragons, and he also has a bad romance in his background (which was featured in one of the earlier DRAGONS books).

     One night, Aoife accidentally runs over Jim the talking demon dog and then—also accidentally—binds him to her, making her his demon lord. Then Jim leads her to Kostya, who is lying unconscious on a beach near her home. Shortly thereafter, the trio is attacked by demonic Red Dragons. Aoife is afraid to believe the fantastic story that Kostya tells her about Asmodeus and dragons and curses. She is afraid that if she believes him, she is going to be dragged off to the asylum again. Her hesitation doesn't last long, however, because she falls for him almost immediately and within a day or two they are all over one another, to Jim's great disgust. (Jim provides much of the broad, snide, and frequently annoying, humor in this series.)

     Eventually, Aoife and Kostya get in touch with Aisling Grey and Drake Vireo (from the AISLING GREY SERIES), because Drake and Kostya are brothers and Kostya is sure that Drake can help them out. Unfortunately, Drake is the Green Dragon wyvern and Kostya is the Black Dragon wyvern, so they can't even talk to one another on the phone, and when they are in the same vicinity, they are at each other's throats. The award for most illogical, TSTL decision goes to Drake and Aisling, who decide that their best course of action is to fly to Kostya's location and have a meeting—which, of course, turns into a major brawl because of the curse. 

     By the end of the story, a scary new character enters the picture (one who appeared in the earlier DRAGONS books), but he disappears almost immediately, so we'll have to wait until the next book to see what he is up to. I really don't like books that fail to resolve any of the action plot issues, forcing the reader to buy the next book to see what happens next. That is a particularly severe problem in this book because there is no resolution for any part of the curse-related conflict—just one brief confrontational scene that ends in a huge cliff-hanger. Of course, the soul mates get their HEA, and Jim gets back with Aisling, his original demon lord, but that just isn't enough plot on which to hang an entire novel.

     Aoife fits right in with the rest of MacAlister's silly DRAGONS heroines, most of whom who tend to be passionate, fast-talking, and (frequently) a bit dithery. Although there is plenty of graphic sex, MacAlister steers away from f-bombs by substituting silly exclamations. For example, Aoife (who is also prone to clueless TSTL moments), indulges in the extensive use of "sweet" alliterative exclamations like these: "Sweet sizzling soupspoons!" "Sweet salted saltines!" "Sweet salivating salamanders!" "Sweet scuppering salamanders!" "Sweet Samarian sandals!" "Sweet suffering sycophants!" "Sweet sardine sandwiches!" This gets old very, very fast. (As do Jim the dog's moronic antics and nonsensical comments.) If you have enjoyed the earlier DRAGONS books, though, you know what to expect. 

     Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Dragon Fall on the book's page. Just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.

                            NOVEL 2:  Dragon Storm                            
     According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep—until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman.

     Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

     Constantine Norka's back-story, which was covered in previous novels, is probably the most complicated of all the dragons in the series. Once he was the warrior leader of the silver dragons. Then, his lady-love (Ysolde) left him for another (Baltic). After giving up his life for Ysolde, he spent centuries as a dead dragon. Finally, two years ago, Ysolde resurrected him. Now, he exists as a specter but can also change at will into his annoyingly arrogant corporeal form. As the book opens, Constantine is living with Ysolde and Baltic, who are true mates even though Constantine still claims that Ysolde is his only true love. You can imagine how Baltic feels about having his exasperating rival underfoot day in and day out. The dragons are still trying to figure out how to get the ring that will allow them to break Asmodeus' curse, so Ysolde decides that Constantine should go into Abaddon (aka hell) to get that ring because when he takes on his spiritual form he is invisible.

     While Constantine is in Abaddon, he discovers that Asmodeus is holding a beautiful Charmer prisoner. That Charmer is Bee Dakar (Aoife's sister), who was caught by Asmodeus while she was trying to steal the same ring that Constantine is looking for. Oddly, Bee can see Constantine in his spiritual form and her skin doesn't burn when he touches her with his dragon fire. If you are a longtime reader of this series, you'll know immediately that Bee's fire immunity signals that she is Constantine's mate, although it takes awhile for the two of them to recognize and accept this fact. Charmers can break curses, so if Bee can get her hands on Asmodeus' ring, she can break the terrible curse he has put on the dragons. Needless to say, Constantine and Bee get the ring (although we are never told how Constantine found it) and escape back to earth, but then things go terribly wrong when they discover that the curse situation is much more complicated than they were led to believe.

     MacAlister adds an additional comic character to the mix when Constantine rescues Gary, a disembodied, sentient, very chatty head from Asmodeus' bedroom. Gary accompanies the couple throughout their wild adventures, even meeting up with Jim the demon dog at Aisling Grey's house. Gary and Jim fire off similar types of remarks, although Gary's nonsensical banter is even more silly than Jim's snarky wisecracks. (I didn't think that was possible!)

     As the action gets hot and heavy, so does the romance between Bee and Constantine, who by now has forgotten all about his undying love for Ysolde. Be prepared for slippery shower encounters, passionate bedroom scenes, stimulating sex-toy discussions and demonstrations, and lots of "get-a-room" PDA.

     Eventually, an evil fiend who is much stronger than Asmodeus enters the action—someone who despises all of the dragons and who has a direct link to  Constantine's past. At this point we learn much more about Constantine's genetic heritage. By the end of the book, some of the conflict has been resolved, but that powerful, villainous entity is still at large, and the dragons have only a single cryptic clue as to how they are supposed to defeat him.

     This book is typical for MacAlister's DRAGON series with its handsome, über-alpha hero who is clueless when it comes to women (except when he has them in bed); its beautiful, spunky heroine who quickly moves from hate to lust for that hero; and its cast of identically matched dragon couples (alpha dragon/feisty mate), all of whom starred in previous novels. MacAlister tells the story from two perspectives, alternating between Constantine's third-person narrative and Bee's first-person voice

     This is not a stand-alone novel because it relies so heavily on past events from previous books, but if you're a DRAGONS fan, you'll enjoy the story. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Dragon Storm on the book's page. Just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon. Click HERE to read a sexy shower scene excerpt that appeared in RT Book Reviews.

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