The Premise: Pia Giovanni has spent her whole life keeping a low profile and never letting anyone know what she is and what her special gifts are. Then one slip in front of a low-down loser of a boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend), and Pia is in trouble. Very big trouble. Her ex has blackmailed her to steal something from the hoard of Dragos Cuelebre, the most powerful wyr in the northeast, and now Pia's days are numbered. If Dragos doesn't find her and kill her, then the shadowy powers manipulating her ex-boyfriend will. Either way, she's toast. In the meantime, Dragos, a wyr-dragon older than rocks, can't believe that someone has breached his impregnable security, gotten to his Hoard and stolen... a penny.
Read excerpts of this book here (these are in chronological order): Excerpt 1 | Excerpt 2 | Excerpt 3
My Thoughts: Dragon Bound had a great beginning. Pia is scrambling after her recent theft - working out how to get herself out of town as soon as possible and how to stop her ex from giving up more of her secrets and from trying to blackmail her again. Despite the big mistake of falling for such a lowlife guy in the first place, her quick-witted actions in these first few pages endeared me to her. I soon found myself thinking that maybe she would get out of the fix she found herself in, but the man/dragon she's stolen the penny from is extremely powerful. Dragos Cuelebre is actually the ruler of the northeastern demesne - one inhabited by wyrs (other demesnes include a southern one ruled by the light fae, a central U.S. one ruled by the dark fae, and another ruled over by a powerful vampiress). The intensity of the catch-me-if-you-can introduction to Pia's world (one where the supernatural are out in the open) also had a gritty, urban fantasy feel to it. A very good beginning.
Another positive was the humor. Although Pia basically did a bad thing (stealing), it wasn't something she wanted to do. So her solution was to leave a replacement penny and a hastily written apology in its place. Dragos' reaction to this was priceless. This was a favorite part of the book for me, but there were a lot of funny moments peppered throughout the story that kept it light.
Once Dragos does track down Pia (which happened much sooner than I was hoping), the story begins to take on more characteristics of paranormal romance. Dragos is a creature so ancient that he remembers the birth of the world, and so he's a pretty traditional alpha male. I am not really a fan of the chestbanging and "mines" involved with alpha males, but I think in Dragon Bound, it is at least explained by Dragos not being quite modern, and it is part of the humor that sometimes dealing with being with Pia baffles him. So his being alpha wasn't a as much an issue for me as it has be in other books because it works well within the story. His being eons old was also surprisingly not an issue either. I think this was also how it was presented - his development into a rational being took a really long time, and I could believe that he's at the same emotional age as Pia because it took him longer to get there. I also liked how his being a dragon, his hoard, and the idea of mating are seamlessly interwoven into the story. Dragon Bound has these tropes but thoughtfully introduces them to the story in a way that didn't feel cliched.
But there was an aspect of Paranormal Romance that didn't work for me as well in this book, and that's the physical relationship. I am a slow burn girl and this was more of a firecracker book on the heat level scale. When Pia and he are together, the sexual tension is there in spades. I think it's just a matter of preference here and for me, I had trouble whenever their physical attraction came at inopportune moments - like while Pia is still terrified that he is going to kill her or while the hero and heroine are being chased by the bad guys. The sex scenes themselves are also unreal (yes, they aren't quite human, but the multiple orgasms and inhuman recovery time pushed it).
It looks like this is a series with different couples highlighted in each book, so of course the romance must fit into one book, but it pressed my buttons that relationship was on hyperdrive. There's sex, living together and more within the span of what feels like a week. Similarly it felt like Pia won the hearts of Drago's men within days. It was a case of a heroine's moxie triumphing over distrust. Once Pia turned into the unique special creature that was her wyr side, and then she gets a very special vision, the story started to get a little too much. I think as pure entertainment, this is totally fine, but I think I wanted something more messy, less pat. The thing is, I have read some really rave reviews, and I can see what people love about this book, and I agree it's one of the better PRs I've read, but I can't seem to brush off what irks me about this story to love it as much as others do.
Dragos has a trusted company of alpha male wyrs and alliances with other powerful Elder Races (vampires, fae), which means there is plenty to explore in this world and plenty of characters who could have their own story. Book 2, Storm's Heart came out August 2nd, and the third book, Serpent's Kiss will be out October 4th (U.S. dates).
Overall: The story was well written, there's a good dash of humor, and an interesting Supernatural Coexisting with the Mundane world, but on the other hand, there were things that didn't work for me, including an emphasis on the physical relationship, too-fast-for-me timeline, and overly pat elements. In the end, the scales leveled out. I walked away not really wowed by it the way I was hoping to be, but I was entertained. It will probably work for those who love paranormal romance, love a great alpha male, and are happy with high levels of steam.
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