Diane D. (genre fiction biblioholic)
2.9 'Zon; 2.4 GR. How dragon-shifters' bonds work makes no emotional or evolutionary sense!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 24, 2019
I like the leads (though not everything they do), I generally like the rest of the team, and rogue Rune seems intriguing, too, but I'm NOT going to continue with this series for a couple reasons, mainly to do with the foundational rules of this world.
First, there's the way too many dragon shifters wind up horribly killing women they mistakenly think are their mates, as witnessed right in the prologue. As the story progresses, we find out that, worse yet, the Council decides who will be among the candidate dragons presented to the still-human "dragon mate", and they may decide to leave someone out for political reasons or for having broken rules; it makes no sense that that they would be allowed to carry on like that, with dragon mates being in such scarce supply, and failures being so damaging (leaving the woman dead, one male spiritually maimed, and presumably another male w/o his destined mate). Of course, the mate marks that usually identify women as being destined for and capable of being turned don't make much sense, anyway: they indicate which clan of dragons she's meant for, but then she, the candidates, and the Council have to rely on uncertain instinct to choose which one?! (Maybe the author wanted to avoid simplistic insta-mating, but this is NOT the way!) Yet despite his own post-tragedy trauma, Finn believes in following the established process, at least for others. I, OTOH, would like to hear more about what Runs believes, and evaluate whether his methods and morals are any better than the ruthlessness accepted to keep some order among bellicose dragons of the various kingdoms.
Female born-dragons <I>(No, AutoCorrect, I did NOT mean to say "high-ranking"! Good grief.)</I> are "sterile", which sounds even more definitive than how in many werewolf universes females are unable to carry to term, given the need to shift. We're also told that no male dragon would be willing to raise another male's child, orphaned when a mated pair dies (since one can't live w/o the other), so most orphans wind up dead. Seriously? They sound like real winners, don't they?! I hate to believe it or the ones we've come to know. Seems to me that even living for hundreds of years, dragons would be deservedly extinct by now!
Another thing I didn't enjoy was the voyeuristic little "dirty fantasy" Finn and Delaney shared during the period after she finally convinced him to get past some of his psycho-emotional issues so they could be at least friends-with-benefits, and she had to adjust to the embarrassing/ titillating knowledge that they were having sex in close proximity to a team full of other dragon shifters with keen ears and noses. NOT sexy to me, I'm sorry.
The action/suspense plot had exciting moments (which I don't want to give spoilers of), but there are still some questions unresolved in the end. Apparently there was more than one dragon with stalker-y thoughts, or is Graff not really dead?! (We readers didn't see the body, but it sounded like the team did deal with it.) Why did Delaney not have a mate mark? Who's the mole for the rogue dragons? It looks like team-newbie Aidan and Delaney's single-mother friend/employer Sera are going to be the focus of a later book, so I won't count whatever's going on there as another loose end.
I just didn't find the good elements of this book enough to outweigh the basic problems for me. The writing was fine overall, though I did catch a handful of so of goofs: a missing word ( "to"), "about" where the syntax required "that", a switch into them back out of first-person pronouns in one of the stalker passages (which, if intentional, should've reversed the italicization, to indicate a thought, not mere narration), etc., but again, the style was not stellar enough to weigh in favor of reading more. Oh, well; you have to try new authors to find which ones are right for you. Sorry, Ms. Owen, but we're not a match.
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