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REVIEW: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Dear Ms. Harrison,

I went back and forth with Jane as to whether to write a review of Dragon Bound. Jane had written a bit about it already for the contest and it is one of her May Recommended Reads, but I felt that the book deserved a second look, so here I am. Be forewarned: I loved it, blew through it in a matter of hours and will probably sound ridiculous writing about it. Apologies in advance. I will do my utmost to avoid spoilers.

dragon-bound1Is anyone stupid enough to steal from a Dragon? One would think not. But half-human/half-wyr Pia Giovanni is blackmailed into taking something from Dragos Cuelebre’s hoard to save Keith, her despicable ex-boyfriend. Pia has managed to keep a low profile her entire life, remaining off the radar of all the Elder Races. She knows Keith’s blackmail has exposed her to some srsly baad dudes and the final straw is her thievery (meaning now the “gud” dudes will be after her too), but Pia isn’t TSTL. While she can’t stop herself from trying to save the scum that coerced her into her new criminal career, she figures out a way to protect herself from letting Keith give away all of her secrets. Beyond this, though, Pia is slightly stymied as to how to escape and leans on friends to help her get out of New York undetected.

Dragos Cuelebre is an ancient wyr, once revered as the ruler of all of wyrkind. Of course, Pia’s theft is discovered by Dragos immediately, and rather than simply being enraged (make no mistake though, he’s royally pissed), he’s intrigued that someone would cross him and think to get away with it. Throwing off his ennui, Dragos tracks Pia down quickly and their initial meet-and-greet is heart pounding and hot. The sexual tension is immediate, and from moment of their meeting the sexual undercurrent is non-stop and gets to those high voltage levels at opportune moments. The chain of events that Pia’s theft sets into motion is riveting, pitting the Wyr against the Dark Fae with Pia and Dragos right in the middle of the action.

Pia is a self-sufficient, self-possessed survivor, having been taught those qualities by her mother. Her hiccup with trusting Keith came at a moment of loneliness after the death of her mother, and trusting Dragos doesn’t happen immediately because he’s Alpha wyr. As a result of her lack of dependence on others, Pia uses her brain to think through things before springing into action and the reader gets to experience her process with her, making her very accessible.

Dragos is a self-sufficient force of nature, being the strongest and most ancient of wyrkind. He has a certain lack of humanity and a definite sense of entitlement; wouldn’t you if you were strong like Dragon? Of course, being the strongest, the oldest, and the best can kinda end up being…boring. Dragos’ fascination with Pia and his need to discover the type of Wyr she is deepens the connection between them as the romance moves in concert with the story. While Pia is only one person, she is hundreds of years younger than Dragos, making their shared experiences new for both of them. There were times I felt that Dragos came across as a bit robotic, maybe due to his erstwhile lack of humanity.

Through the course of the book, Dragos and Pia manage to go to various places around the country as well as to the dimension of the Elder Races. Miss Harrison said this:

One valuable thing I learned from [working with her friend] was how to sketch just enough to paint a picture for someone, leave the rest up to them and move on with the story.

The worldbuilding here does exactly as she says. The reader is provided with the bare essentials to allow his or her imagination to take them to Dragon Bound’s alternate reality without major caveats being forced into mind. I want to go back to this alternate reality again; there was enough Manhattan to make me believe that this reality could easily exist.

There is no lack of secondary characters in the book. While Dragos may emotionally feel like an island, he is no dummy when it comes to business or security. That he realizes that many of the people that work for him both respect and love him as well is another facet of his personality that emerges from the rough. The book has a massive amount of fodder for sequels, but I honestly enjoyed meeting and hanging with all of the other wyr and Fae personalities and didn’t feel that the interactions were forced with neon “Sequel Bait” signs flashing overhead.

The book is on my keeper shelf with an easy A- and I am waiting with baited breath for Storm’s Heart.

Sydney (better known by her handle, Shuzluva) knew that she wanted to be Han Solo's copilot after seeing Star Wars at the tender age of 5. She fell in love with romance novels over 20 years ago when she got her hands on Sandra Brown's Texas! trilogy, and in the mid 90's was overjoyed to discover romance writers had branched out into the world of SciFi/fantasy. While she enjoys the occasional contemporary or historical novel, the world of SciFi holds an unshakable fascination for her. Some of her favorite authors include Nalini Singh, Catherine Asaro and Kresley Cole, and she's always interested in adding new authors to the list.

28 Comments

  1. Eileen
    May 05, 2011 @ 09:55:29

    I read this book in two days which is fast for me and my available reading time. I loved it too.

    I’ve been in a bit of a romance reading slump lately and was thinking that maybe I needed a break and would switch to some biographies or mysteries. But I gave this one a try and I’m really happy I did.

    I’ve read some paranormal romances but none with this level of fantasy (elves, goblins, dragon, etc.), and I wasn’t sure I would like it. I’m really glad I gave it a try.

    One more thought–I especially liked that Pia shifted into such a special creature (I don’t want to say what and give it away) since before she shifted she had felt so unspecial being a “half-breed” and compared to her mother and others around her.

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  2. Allie
    May 05, 2011 @ 10:13:01

    I read this as an ARC and liked it so much I plan to buy a real copy. I gave my parents the ARC. It’s just the kind of thing my dad will like. The only thing about it I didn’t like was the endless stuff in the beginning demonstrating how old Dragos is, which I found boring. I skimmed that part. He’s old, I get it. No need to beat it into the ground. But that was easy to overlook since the rest of the book was so good.

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  3. Jane
    May 05, 2011 @ 11:10:38

    I totally loved this book and am excited about the whole series. (This is where I confess to having read the second book and await the pitchforking I richly deserve).

    I did NOT guess Pia’s secret but I liked thinking back to all the clues I had been given about the secret. I particularly liked how Pia was portrayed, skilled in some areas with a lot of bravado but also not silly in any way.

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  4. Debra`
    May 05, 2011 @ 11:13:32

    I got to read this book way back in Dec as it was being passed around to see if people would like, I loved then and I bought the book as soon as it came out. I thought it was a great first book and can’t wait for the next one!!

    If you love a dragon book, don’t miss out on this one!!!

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  5. Isobel Carr
    May 05, 2011 @ 11:48:45

    Ok, you’ve sold me (which is saying something, cause that cover had me running the other way FAST).

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  6. Lisa J
    May 05, 2011 @ 11:49:57

    This book sounds great. I would love to try it, but the $8 price for the e-book is stopping me. I don’t want to take a chance and spend that much on a new to me author, no matter how great the reviews are.

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  7. May Reads | romance authoredie
    May 05, 2011 @ 12:11:00

    [...] been a veritable whirlwind of hype over on the Dear Author blog concerning Thea Harrison’s first novel in over a decade, Dragon Bound. On May 3rd, the [...]

  8. Heather Greye
    May 05, 2011 @ 12:24:12

    I’ve got this on hold at the library. I’m seriously tempted by it, since I’ve heard so many great things. But I’ve yet to read a dragon shifter book that worked for me, which makes me worry about this one. (Apparently all other random shifters work…dragons are the only ones I’ve been, um, burned by.)

    Here’s hoping I like it and discover a new series to buy. :)

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  9. Shuzluva
    May 05, 2011 @ 13:01:08

    @Lisa J: Lisa, I feel you. Do you have a local library? I’m urging you because I know that Jane mentioning Storm’s Heart is a great sign of things to come. Not that I feel it’s necessary to jump on the bandwagon (hell, I hate bandwagons), but I feel strongly that if you’re a lover of paranormal, this is a great read.

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  10. Shuzluva
    May 05, 2011 @ 13:03:17

    @Heather Greye: I’ve been burned, bitten and clawed by all sorts of shifter books. That you’ve enjoyed the others you’ve read regardless of the species is quite amazing. Once your library coughs up the book you’ll have to stop back and let us know what you think.

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  11. Lisa J
    May 05, 2011 @ 13:44:55

    @Shuzluva: I’ll check on the library, but they don’t have a great selevtion of romance. I may break my rule about buying the book because I usually agree with your reviews.

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  12. Manga Maniac
    May 05, 2011 @ 18:23:46

    Thanks to all of the gushing here, I just ordered a copy from Amazon. Even though I HATE the cover! I am looking forward to reading it now.

    Could you please review Karin Tabke’s Blood Law? I am so on the fence about that one. Even though I LOVE the cover. Lol – the little things that get my attention.

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  13. Angela
    May 06, 2011 @ 09:47:24

    I’m slightly leary of this book – mainly because all I see, everywhere I look, are raving-good reviews.

    Logically I know that’s not right, but I can’t help it. I was psyched for this book to come out a couple of months ago, and now I’m worried that it can’t possibly live up to all the hype I’ve seen and am debating getting it.

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  14. Jane
    May 06, 2011 @ 10:01:02

    @Angela Perhaps just read some of the book in the store to see if her writing works for you?

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  15. readerdiane
    May 06, 2011 @ 12:13:39

    I just finished this book-I moved it to the top of my TBR pile based on your reviews. I have to totally agree and I think I’d move it up to an A. It was awesome and nothing to criticize about it except I’d love to read more of the story right now. So far there are 2 more in the series & I have pre-ordered both of them.
    If you are not sure about getting the book, read the first chapter on Amazon. Pia is such a great character & now I am spoiled for the rest of my TBR pile.

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  16. Estara
    May 06, 2011 @ 13:50:07

    Okay, sold.

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  17. Janine
    May 06, 2011 @ 17:13:29

    I enjoyed this one a lot too, but I think I’d grade it a B/B+. What I loved most was the quirky humor and how lovable the characters were. I will definitely be reading further in the series.

    What I didn’t love as much: I think I’m getting a little tired of certain tropes in paranormal romance, like the ultra possessive/protective alpha male and the heroine (who is almost always less powerful) who is in jeopardy and must be guarded. To be fair, Harrison’s take on these tropes was fresh, but I think the gender inequality inherent in these tropes is starting to get to me.

    Also, I felt that Pia was something of a Mary Sue character. Her quirky humor kept it from annoying me, but she starts out feeling totally unspecial and ends up being admired and appreciated for how special she is not just by the hero but by a lot of the side characters. I also guessed what kind of wyr creature she was long before it was revealed and I kept hoping it would be something less cheesy.

    I thought the ending was a bit too sappy, but overall the book was way more entertaining than most novels by authors I have not heard of before turn out to be. It was hard to put down, and I also loved that Dragos had dark brown/bronze skin. The main characters were downright charming in their combination of courage and vulnerability. Despite my nitpicks, I wish I had read it in time for “DA Recommends” because I would have recommended it too.

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  18. Angela James
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:17:54

    I’ve read this book twice, since I was also fortunate to get an ARC. And I’ve read the second book as well. I thought Dragon Bound was utterly delightful. It’s a solid A for me, but I love the tropes that bothered Janine (in the comment before me)and I thought there was a lot that felt fresh and unique here. And much to Jane’s utter dismay, I DID guess Pia’s secret almost right away.

    I think, if you’re sitting on the fence for this book, especially due to price, this is one of those rare books I’d urge you to try despite the price, if you like shifters, alpha heroes, and interesting worldbuilding.

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  19. Janine
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:36:11

    @Angela James: I agree that there was a lot that was fresh in Dragon Bound. And I’ve often enjoyed the possessive/protective alpha male trope, so it’s not that I don’t like it by itself. I think it’s mainly when it’s combined with the trope where the heroine must be guarded 24/7 and is therefore confined to one building that it starts to bother me. Probably because I’ve read so much J.R. Ward.

    If I had to compare Harrison to another author, though, it would be Nalini Singh — although there’s more humor in Harrison’s writing. I am very much looking forward to book #2, so I hope my post didn’t make it sound otherwise.

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  20. Donna
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:50:46

    Janine, do you know of any paranormal books where the female is as powerful as her male counterpart and can guard herself?

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  21. Janine
    May 06, 2011 @ 19:32:29

    @Donna: Good question. Shana Abe’s heroines in the drakon series are quite strong and don’t need to be guarded. In a couple of the books (The Dream Thief and The Time Weaver) they have more paranormal powers than the heroes.

    I haven’t read it (because I’m a wimp when it comes to graphic violence) but I understand Susan Squires had a book where the heroine was a centuries-old vampire and the hero was human.

    I also haven’t yet gotten around to reading Shelly Laurenston’s books but I’ve seen her heroines described as strong and out of the usual mold in paranormals.

    Then there are books where the heroes are definitely stronger in most regards but which bother me less because the heroines aren’t under guard 24/7. For example some of Nalini Singh’s — I’m especially thinking of Branded by Fire (Mercy) and Kiss of Snow (Sienna), where the heroines are just as strong as the heroes in at least some regards.

    On the more vulnerable heroine side of the spectrum, I adore Patricia Briggs’ Anna and Charles series, even though Anna starts out as a victim and gradually grows stronger and stronger.

    So it’s not that the trope always bothers me. I think it’s the gilded cage aspect of it that gets to me, because it reminds me of captive/captor romances only the heroine’s captivity is being rationalized by the dangers surrounding her and the hero’s possessiveness by his changeling nature.

    I have even loved one or two old captive/captor romances so I think it’s that rationalizing and normalizing of the heroine’s captivity that bothers me — the fact that no matter how the heroine protests against it, it’s presented that staying confined and under guard is the best thing for her to do, for her own safety.

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  22. Hope
    May 08, 2011 @ 20:12:19

    Wow. What can I say? This is probably the best book I’ve read this year! :) Since I got my Kindle and the darn Kindle prices are so high, my reading volume has drastically dwindle. But so glad I got this! I read it Friday night and have already re-read the entire book once more so far and my fave parts numerous times. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

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  23. Lindsey
    May 09, 2011 @ 00:00:51

    I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to the next one in the series. It probably wasn’t my favorite book this year, but it was still quite entertaining, despite some of my small nitpick-y things. Like Janine, I knew what Wyr creature the heroine was quite early on in the book, and it struck me as slightly cheesy as well.

    However, I’d encourage everyone put off by the price point to at least try the sample first. I was a bit iffy on it, but it intrigued me just enough to keep me going, and I’m glad I did.

    ReplyReply

  24. DA Week in Review: May 1 through May 8
    May 09, 2011 @ 10:27:54

    [...] Kate Allan REVIEW: Breaking Point by Pamela Clare REVIEW: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter Review: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison REVIEW: A Sense of Sin by Elizabeth Essex REVIEW: A Discreet Affair by Shelley Munro [...]

  25. Christine Rimmer
    May 09, 2011 @ 11:53:51

    Bought this yesterday because of this review and Jane’s rec. About halfway through. It’s fabulous. More and more often in recent years, I become impatient with the romance in the books I read. Kind of been there, done that with the H/h scenes–both the sex scenes and the ones where they grow emotionally intimate with each other. In this book…well, just Dragos and Pia alone in a beach house and it’s total fireworks. Fun and passionate and I can feel their bond growing. This is really what I want in a romance and Harrison is so delivering.

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  26. Loosheesh
    May 20, 2011 @ 14:28:32

    Saw this book on a friend’s Goodreads shelf, along with her appetizing review, and I had to check it out. I’ve been wanting to try out PNRs for a while but have been a bit skeptical. Anyway, I went ahead and bought it (at a price I don’t usually spend on ebooks) and I was not disappointed! I loved it, and I love Pia and Dragos – money well spent! I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series :-)

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  27. Darchaeg
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 04:17:31

    I might be going out on a limb here, but here goes. My review is B-/C grade. Warning: Slight spoilers ahead so beware if you haven’t read it.

    I really liked the character Pia at first, but after she is tracked down by Dragos, she quickly morphs from being a secretive, slightly spikey, independent and fast thinking, never-give-up-your-true-Name slippery female to being happily locked up, rather easily giving up her true Name, and getting knocked up, in less than a week (five days, if I remember correctly). All for a guy that she is easily terrified by for most of the book.

    Like she says, she’s not right in the head. I would go further – the author doesn’t make it right in the plot.

    While it’s nice that the plot moves quickly enough, the pace, when set against character development, is so fast that Pia morphs from having the aforementioned qualities to a Mary Sue character with little more than ‘loneliness’ repeatedly flagged as the overriding reason she foregoes against all her years of training. (Site note: I really hated that all her years of training, and caches to provide new identities, which the author listed in such a promising way, turned out to mean almost nothing to the story itself. I would’ve preferred more cat-and-mouse chasing so that Dragos really had to work hard to catch and keep her. Something that shows she’s more than just great sex in the sack – that she can and does look after herself with aplomb.)

    Yes, loneliness is a powerful motivator, but the ex-boyfriend Keith is provided as an equally powerful incentive to not let it overrule all other considerations. It’s hard for me to believe that Dragos comes along at just the right time for that lesson to be tossed to the wind.

    Do I believe the Wyr ‘mate’ issue is powerful enough to induce the feeling of love in a matter of days? Well, it’s not my universe, so I’m not predisposed. The fact that it’s still a consideration in my head means the author didn’t manage to sell it. That Pia starts out so secretive, so street savvy and sneaky, and turns into a mushy heap of weepy *SPOILER* pregnant female in just five days, is just disappointing. But hey – if that’s your cup of tea, then this book won’t disappoint.

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  28. John’s Best of 2011 List | Dear Author
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 12:49:47

    [...] Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (review) [...]

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