Sometimes I have the opportunity to read a book early because an editor might contact me and let me know that she’s really excited about a particular book. That’s what happened to me with the book Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison.
Cindy Hwang at Penguin contacted me and asked if I was willing to read an edited manuscript of Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound. Harrison hadn’t published a word in 10 years and frankly I was pretty burned out on paranormal romances (we had a tough time putting together the slate for DABWAHA because at first it was everything by Nalini Singh and The Iron Duke). I promised I would give it a try as long as I could quit after the first chapter if I didn’t like it. Deal struck and manuscript arrived shortly after.
The story opens with Pia, someone with some kind of power bargaining with a witch for a spell which she then uses on Keith, her ex boyfriend who sold her out to some more powerful beings. The way in which Pia bargains with Keith gives me some idea that Pia may actually be one of those characters who thinks things through before jumping off the ledge. (As in, she recognizes she might need a parachute). Unfortunately, it’s Pia’s lack of foresight that leads her into this predicament.
Pia was blackmailed into committing a crime more suicidal than she could possibly have imagined, and she had no one to blame but herself.
Knowing that didn’t make it easier. She couldn’t believe she had been so lacking in good judgment, taste or sensibility.
Honestly what had she done? She had taken one look at a pretty face and forgotten everything her mom had taught her about survival.
Pia and her mother have been on the run for as long as Pia can recall. Her mother drummed into Pia that she could not reveal her secrets to anyone, that it would mean the death of her and endanger those around her. But when Pia’s mother dies, Pia is terribly lonely and in a moment of weakness shares a secret, a small one, with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend brags about this to someone else and this secret carries on the wind to someone very powerful who ultimately forces Pia to steal something from the Dragos Cuelebre, the Great Beast. The Wyr who ruled all Wyrs. And no one steals anything from Dragos and lives:
Then Pia heard the most terrible sound of her life. It started low like a vibration, but one so deep in power it shook her bones. She slowed to a stop along with the other pedestrians. People shaded their eyes and looked around as the vibration grew into a roar that swept through the streets and rattled the buildings.
The roar was a hundred freight trains, tornadoes, Mt. Olympus exploding in a rain of fire and flood.
Pia fell to her knees and threw her arms over her head. Others screamed and did the same. Still others looked around wild-eyed, trying to spot the disaster. Some ran panicked down the street. The nearby intersections were dotted with car accidents as frightened drivers lost control and slammed into each other
Then the roar died away. Buildings settled. The cloudless sky was serene but New York City most certainly was not.
She pushed upright on unsteady legs and mopped her sweat dampened face, oblivious to the chaos churning around her.
She knew what-‘who-‘had made that unholy sound and why. The knowledge made her guts go watery.
If she were in a race for her life, that roar was the starter pistol. If God were the referee, He had just shouted Go.
And Dragos did indeed yell “Go” to Pia but maybe not for the reasons Pia thought. Being all powerful for century upon century can imbue a certain malaise into even those with limitless wealth and power, or maybe even because of the limitless wealth and power. Dragos sees the theft of an item in his hoarde as an affront, of course, but more importantly, a challenge.
I could see almost immediately what intrigued Dragos based on how the theft was portrayed, what was taken, and what Dragos learns about Pia, bit by bit. There was a great scene early on when Dragos is hunting Pia by a receipt that he found belonging to her. It shows his disconnect with others, his presumptuousness, and most of all, his curiousness (which fits with his dragon being).
Dragos held the receipt up, sniffed and frowned. Even to his sensitive nose the receipt was starting to lose that delicate feminine scent and smell like him.
He strode inside. The penthouse took the Tower’s top floor. Just below that were his offices, meeting rooms, an executive dining hall, training area and other public areas. The third floor down housed his sentinels and other top Court and corporate officials. If it had been a stand alone building, it would have been a mansion. All the rooms and halls were built on a massive scale.
Dragos located the kitchen in the penthouse. It was a foreign place filled with chrome machines and countertops. No one was there. He went in search of the communal kitchen responsible for serving the dining hall and all the sentinels, Court and corporate executives’ needs. He located it on the next flight down.
He strode through the double doors. Half a dozen kitchen staff froze. In the corner a brownie gave a squeak of dismay and faded into invisibility.
The head chef hurried forward, wringing her hands. She was a dire wolf in wyr form but she kept her human shape, that of a tall gray-haired middle-aged woman, during work hours. “This is an unexpected honor, my Lord,” she gushed. “What can we do for you?”
“There are plastic bags with zippers on them. I’ve seen them in commercials,” Dragos said to her. He snapped his fingers, trying to remember the name. “You put food in them.”
“Ziploc baggies?” she asked in a cautious voice.
He pointed at her. “Yes. I want one.”
She turned and snarled at her staff. A faerie leaped to a cupboard then bounded to them. She bowed low to Dragos, head ducked and eyes to the floor, while holding a cardboard box up. He pulled out a baggie, placed the 7-Eleven receipt inside and zipped it closed.
“Perfect,” he said, placing the baggie in his shirt pocket. He walked out, ignoring the babble that rose behind him.
In these pairings between all powerful men and the hapless female, the question is always “why her”. But Pia is very special, not only because of her personality but because of what she is. She is some type of wyr, but what kind I couldn’t figure out. I admit to not being the most well read of fantasy readers so it may be that those who are steeped deep into fantasy genres might guess right away. By keeping Pia’s identity a secret, but unfolding clues along the way to Dragos, there is a certain suspense and momentum provided that allows for a romance to develop without the reader feeling frustrated.
Pia and Dragos get caught up in battle over power and Dragos’ life is placed in jeopardy more than once and Pia gets to do some saving of her own.
Harrison really delivers on the sexual tension with an alpha male dragon wyr who is both possessive and acquisitive and a heroine who has powers we aren’t quite sure about.
I’m really excited about this new series, three stories which will be published this year. In some ways, I felt the feel of the world was similar to Nalini Singh’s Archangel series. It’s modern, contemporary with an old world power overlay. The heat level is about on par with Singh as well. Berkley is holding 10 ARCs to be given away to random commenters. International readers welcome.
The only thing we would ask is that if you are moved, you might say something on the internet somewhere or to a friend, about this book as this is a new author and this series could definitely use some word of mouth help. (This is not a precondition to winning an ARC. ARC giveaways are ALWAYS random).
Updated with winners:
- miss_thing: I’ve never been a big aficionado of dragon stories, but I have to say I LOVE the dragons in Michelle Sagara’s “Cast In…” series. They have such style and attitude :-). I particularly love the Arkon, who is the ultimate protective archivist… I’d love to read this book – you had me at the comparison to Nalini Singh.
- BethP: I, too, would have to say the Shana Abe Drakon series.
- Julie: The only dragon series or stories I have read, and liked are by Katie MacAlister. But this one sounds interesting.
- Minh: This book sounds like a blast! My favourite dragon books at the moment has to be the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, they’re brilliantly crafted with wonderful characters.
- Jan: Anne McCaffrey’s dragonrider books were some of the first fantasy books I read as a teenager. I also like Patricia Briggs’ Hurog series. I’m looking forward to this new series by Thea Harrison.
- Joseri: Definitely Patricia Briggs Hurog books, the first is probably my most favourite book ever.
- Joni: Sounds really interesting. I think I’d have to agree with Kim that my favorite dragon series is the McCaffrey one, although I definitely liked some parts of it more than others.
- Lisa Iriarte: I will always be partial to the Dragonsong/Dragonsinger books by Anne McCaffrey.
- Rosario: I’ve had a look at the comments, and it looks like I haven’t read any books with dragon main characters (unless you count Marjorie Torrey’s Artie and the Princess, which I read and loved as a child). This one sounds really interesting, though, and I’d love to give it a try.
- Dana: I also loved the dragonriders of Pern. This book sounds good.