REVIEW: Booker’s Song by Hannah Walker
Rillian Mascini is one of the most knowledgeable mages in the world. Spending his days and sometimes nights with his nose in a book has taught him magic and histories that few care to remember. He has a passion for dragons that pulls him to learn all he can about them, including their language. He is one of the last people left alive who can speak to the magnificent beasts.
Conwyn D’Aver is squad leader of the Dragon Riders. He will do whatever it takes to protect the dragons and people he has given his oath to serve. Nothing is more important, and when Neela, his personal dragon, is attacked, Conwyn is out for blood. He vows to find the threat and defeat it.
When an old spell book is found that gives a person the power to control all dragons, Conwyn will do anything he can to keep it from getting into the wrong hands, even if that means teaming up with the bookish Rillian to find a way to overcome the evil enemies who seek to gain the power.
Together with the dragons, the two men must find a way to protect everything they both love, but while doing so, they risk losing their own hearts to each other. As their enemies seek to destroy them, they learn that sometimes it takes love and trust to defeat the things we fear the most.
Dear Hannah Walker,
This book came up on the Amazon discussion board because many of my book buddies love dragons. I do too! Dragons and m/m fantasy romance seemed like a winning combination. Alas, while the dragons were adorable, overall it was not quite winning for me.
The blurb gives you the main idea of what story is about (almost – I will get to something it does not describe and I felt it should have). We have the Empire, and apparently other Empires exist in this world as well, most of which are pretty decent; the only one that schemes against our Empire is the state of Sarin, who schemes to get more dragons for their personal gain. Dragons are sentient creatures which stay with our heroes of their own free will and help them fight battles, and our heroes treat them well. Except almost nobody can talk to them – Ril the mage is one of the few people left in the whole Empire who knows the dragons’ language. One day his knowledge of dragon language is needed to help Neela, a dragon whom Con (Conwyn) is usually riding. Once the news is out that Ril can talk to dragons, dragons from all the riding units adopt him as their own, so to speak – they want him to sing songs to them, they want to chat, they want to be friends. The adventure part of the plot involves dealing with Sarin’s threat and trying to protect a book, which has accidentally appeared in Ril’s possession.
Since Ril is now friends with the dragons, that also means dealing with Col on a regular basis and both of our heroes are not sure what they think about that. They are not sure because these guys love to bicker (something the blurb does not tell you). When I first saw them bickering, I was even more delighted – because I love well-done varieties of “from enemies to lovers” trope. But let me put the emphasis on well-done. I do not need the characters to be full-blown enemies, but if they like to snipe at each other all the time, I really like to see some *reason* for that besides the usual one, which is that they do not realize that they are really in love and that’s why they are fighting all the time. Guess what was taking place in this book? Yes, the usual setup, and for me it got really old, really fast. I lost count how many times I wanted to slap them both and ask how old they were – four, five years of age, or younger? Truly, you don’t get why he kissed you? No ideas whatsoever?
“Con bracketed him with his arms. “Shut up.” Con’s growl sent a shiver through him and his eyes widened as he realized what Con was about to do. He tried to turn his head, but he wasn’t quick enough. The next moment, Con was kissing him like he needed it as much as he needed water to quench his thirst. Rill managed to pull his lips away briefly. “I hate you.”
“I know. I hate you too,” Con murmured as he bit his earlobe before reclaiming Rill’s lips. Rill heard Con’s unit mates talking, but the kiss was too intense and he gave himself up to it. He wrapped his hand around Con’s waist and pulled him close. Damn the man, why does he have to kiss so well? Sliding his hand up Con’s body, feeling the muscles on his stomach, the hard nipples, he was almost distracted. Instead, he pushed against Con’s chest, forcing him back. “Why the grek did you kiss me?” Con scrubbed his neck. “I don’t know.” “Well, stop it! You can’t keep going round, grabbing me and kissing me.” Even if you like it? A voice inside his mind asked. Oh, shut up. He bit back.”
Luckily, a lot of time the men are actually involved in action and don’t have time to bicker. But of course at some point they have to pretend to be lovers – I will let you to find out what comes out of all of this. I will just say that I have not read such a silly reason for a breakup in a long time.
As an aside, the word “grek” is repeated a lot in the book. A lot.
As I mentioned before, the dragons were adorable, and the guys when they did not bicker were really sweet and nice, but I just cannot grade this book any higher.
I cannot critique the writing much but overall I just found it uninspired, I wanted more depth in characterization and world building too. The world building was quite vague.