Friday, December 2, 2011

Dragon Bound

Summary: The first in the Elder Races series, Dragon Bound takes a supernatural type that I usually hate and makes it totally work.  It's a funny, sexy, well-paced, emotionally true romance set in a well-imagined, creative alternate reality and spiced up with great action and rich secondary characters.   Five stars *plus* a purple heart-shaped rhinestone spangle sticker.  I laughed.  I cried.  It was better than Cats! I'd read it again. 

Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison, kept popping up in my recommended list on Amazon.  It was highly-rated, but by an author I'd never heard of, charging full-price, and had a premise (dragon finds soul mate) that seemed destined for gag-inducing cheesiness.  It didn't seem worth the risk.  But like an infestation of mold, it wouldn't go away.  So eventually I tried out the "Click to Look Inside" and started reading and got totally hooked.  Because it's just that good.

It starts with Pia (heroine) going on the run after she steals from Drago (hero), the dragon shapeshifter.  He soon catches up to her, but he finds himself intrigued and decided to keep her instead of killing her outright.  They get caught up a series of adventures while they fall in love.  HEA.

The story is has no real weakness and many strengths, but what really bowled me over was that it has a dragon shapeshifter as the main character and it was completely authentic.  OK, here's a little interlude with 

My Theory on Paranormal Romances
As a broad generalization, paranormal romances can be split into a categories based on they male lead's supernatural species and its real-life analog.
  • Werewolves and other shapeshifters are muscle-bound, physical, loyal, (usually family-oriented) but with a real wild side.    Essentially, they're extreme versions of bad boys from the wrong side of town.  
  • Vampire and demons are selfish, decadent, ancient, sensual, and baaaaad.  Usually the heroine is their redemption.  Basically they're a souped up version of the amoral celebrity/rich townie, which tells you why vampires and werewolves rarely get along.
  • Elves and other fae are magical, powerful, and pretty.  They're either idealized metrosexuals Prince Charmings, complete with hunky sauce and rainbow sprinkles.  
  • Immortal warriors are devoted to fighting for a cause.  They're mystical SEALs with swords.  Yum.
  • Humans don't stay that way for long - at some point they sprout fangs or get injected with mutant virus or something.  They start off as well-trained demon-slayers and true-love-to-supernatural-woman types, but basically this fills the underdog/everyman role which is usually not what you're looking for when you read paranormals.  So a book or so in, they morph into something else or are are superceded by another character.
  • Angels are definition-of-good authority figures with occasional punish-wrong-doers duties.  I'm not saying "daddy-issues", but I'm just saying.
Writing likable, authentic point-of-view characters takes skill.  Doing so when the characters are supernaturals is tougher, because it shouldn't feel the same to be inside their head as it does to be inside a human's head.  Someone, for example, who has been eating people for the past 250 years is going to have unusual emotional reactions to things.  And that's why I think dragon shape-shifters are particularly prone to feeling unbelievable.
  • Dragons.  They're what you get when you want someone wilder than a werewolf, more ancient than a vampire, more magical than an elf, and more alpha and a better fighter than all of them put together. 
Because they're even more everything than all the other supernatural types put together, they're that much harder to make believable.  But Thea Harrison, the genius, pulls it off.  And she doesn't cheat by calling them dragons but then ignoring the things that make dragons dragon-y.  No.  HER dragon is as old as the solar system, a secretive, solitary, carnivore who hoards treasure, flies, and breathes fire.  Shazam!  She make's Pia's race work too, but telling you what that is is a spoiler (albeit one that you'll guess before Dragos does), so you'll just have to wait to see.

More in the Series
  1. Dragon Bound
  2. Storm's Heart: A thunderbird shapeshifter and a 300 year old dark fae princess - she makes them work too!
  3. Serpent's Kiss: An immortal gryphon shapeshifter and the 1,000 year old Vampire Sorceress Queen - and it works too!
  4. Oracle's Moon: A djinn demon prince and the oracle - not out yet, but I have it on pre-order

No comments:

Post a Comment