The Dream Thief
By Shana Abe. Published by Bantam Dell, 2006. ISBN: 0-553-80493-6
Plot summary from front cover of the book:
“Buried deep within the bowels of the Carpathian Mountains lied the legendary dreaming diamond known as Draumr, the only gem with the power to enslave the drakon. Since childhood, Lady Amalia Langford, daughter of the clan’s Alpha, has heard its haunting ballad but kept it secret, along with another rare Gift . . .
“Lia can hear the future, much in the way she hears the call of Draumr. And in that future, she realizes that the diamond – along with the fate of the drakon – rests in the hands of a human man, one who straddles two worlds.
“Ruthlessly clever, Zane has risen through London’s criminal underworld to become its ruler. Once a street urchin saved by Lia’s mother, Zane is also privy to the secrets of the clan – and is the only human they trust to bring them Draumr. But he does nothing selflessly.
“Zane’s hunt for the gem takes him to Hungary, where he is shocked to encounter a bold, beautiful young noblewoman: Lia. She has broken every rule of the drakon to join him, driven by the urgent song of Draumr – and her visions of Zane. In one future, he is her ally. In another, her overlord. In both, he is her lover. Now, to protect her tribe, Lia must tie her fate to Zane’s, to the one man capable of stealing her future – and destroying her heart.”
If you like the fantasy or romance genres or dragons, you might like this book. Set during the Regency Period in Europe, it has all the whistles and bells of the time; powdered hair, ornate clothing and settings, wigs, heavy rouge, men with stockings and short pants, horses and carriages, and the intrigue of a royal court set in countryside manors. And, did I mention, dragons?
The book starts out with a bit of fictional history of dragons in Europe and what happened to them over time. This introduces the drakon; dragons disguised as humans. I thought it was an interesting idea to place dragons in an era that is not medieval or ancient as is usually the case. And having the dragons be shape-shifters to save themselves from extinction due to human occupation of Earth makes it more fascinating.
The main characters, and even some of the minor ones, are charming and well developed. They are likable and in the end I found myself rooting for the 2 main characters. I cared enough about them that by the end I was invested in their futures. What’s more, the characters of Lia and Zane are dynamic in that they grow and change (for the better in this case) by the end of the book. The relationship between the two was riveting, and the love scenes were intense and nicely erotic. As far as that element of the book, the love scenes just enhance the novel, but do not overpower it. The story itself is not necessarily about the relationship between Lia and Zane, but is used more as a plot device for the main story.
While the settings were not overly described in detail, I was ultimately OK with that. I am not a reader who needs an abundance of descriptive language to be able to appreciate the book. I felt the cold in the mountains, and I felt the cold lake in the caves. It was enough for me to be able to grasp where the characters were and how the scenery enhanced the scene. Along with that, the dialogue flows easily and logically. It was easy for me to picture the characters engaging in the conversations portrayed.
There were many dream sequences since part of Lia’s Gifts are dreaming the possible futures of her and her family. The dreams were short but informative and added a lot to the movement of the story. There were chapters devoted to thoughts of the dragons, one in particular, and these also added to the movement and enrichment of the story.
In all, this was a quick, fun, fantasy book. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Dark Desires (Dark Gothic Book 1)
by Eve Silver. ISBN: 978-0-986357-2-5. 2005, 2011
This was a free Kindle e-book off of Amazon. I highly recommend trying that. I’ve come across some really good reads this way.
This is the plot summary from Goodreads. I don’t know who wrote it, but it was NOT me.
“Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he’s a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate, where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances … and the murders.
With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man … or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?”
I read this right after reading The Monstrumologist, which is set in the same time period but on a different continent. Still, they are both dark and moody, and have a Gothic atmosphere. This one, however, is set mostly in Whitechapel, London, England during the time of Jack the Ripper. While this infamous serial killer is never mentioned by name, the heinous crimes that take place are the same. The book is intriguing and a fun read if you like a little bit of mystery and moodiness with your romance. Yes, this is a romance novel.
The main character of Darcie is relateable in a we’ve-read-about-this-type-of-character-before type of way. Young girl, pretty of course, down on her luck due to situations beyond her control. She is rescued by a handsome, mysterious stranger. The handsome, mysterious stranger has money, seems kind but has a bad reputation (deserved or not we don’t know). The other characters all have similarities to all characters ever written. I know most characters in most books do, but this one has cliche character types. Most of the time it’s quite forgivable, and in this book it really isn’t that much of a distraction, but I was a little disappointed that the bad guy was not developed more and that none of the characters seem very dynamic. This is not a book to read for character development.
I liked the idea of a little bit of mystery in a Gothic romance. I’m new to Gothic romances, so I was expecting some unusual things. The book starts out pretty well keeping everything dark and brooding. However, as the mysteries unfold, it becomes a little bit disappointing. I was expecting more intrigue. I was expecting a tragedy somewhere. Other than the serial killer, there was no tragedy other than the main characters’ pasts. Those are tragic, and are meant to explain situations. But, I felt like I needed more. Right before the bad guy is revealed I was kinda hoping it was a certain person (I’m trying not to give spoilers here) but it ended up being someone else. Disappointment.
The author is very good at describing a love scene. Good, heart-pounding stuff. Actual love can be felt, and there were parts where I actually teared up for how sweet it was.
The epilogue seemed a bit rushed. There is a circumstance that seems to be added just to make all loose ends tie up into a pretty, happy bow. That also felt a little meh.
I was not unhappy having read this book. I don’t feel that it was a waste of time. I would never read it again, but if someone wants a “light” dark, Gothic romance novel, I would recommend it. 😊
In Bed With a Highlander
by Maya Banks. Random House, LLC. 2011
Plot summary from Amazon:
“Ewan McCabe, the eldest, is a warrior determined to vanquish his enemy. Now, with the time ripe for battle, his men are ready and Ewan is poised to take back what is his—until a blue-eyed, raven-haired temptress is thrust upon him. Mairin may be the salvation of Ewan’s clan, but for a man who dreams only of revenge, matters of the heart are strange territory to conquer.
The illegitimate daughter of the king, Mairin possesses prized property that has made her a pawn—and wary of love. Her worst fears are realized when she is rescued from peril only to be forced into marriage by her charismatic and commanding savior, Ewan McCabe. But her attraction to her ruggedly powerful new husband makes her crave his surprisingly tender touch; her body comes alive under his sensual mastery. And as war draws near, Mairin’s strength, spirit, and passion challenge Ewan to conquer his demons—and embrace a love that means more than revenge and land.”
It has been almost a year since I read this so it is hard to remember details. I’ll try not to let this amount of time go by again. But then again if it was excellent, wouldn’t I remember it?
I do know that the characters are dynamic and the author does a great job with backstory. There is a kidnapped child involved which always adds an element of sympathy, especially when the child is kidnapped from a widower father.
The main character, Mairin, is sympathetic also, as the villain tries to force her into marriage and is extremely abusive. Which lends itself to a satisfied feeling when the villain gets it in the end.
The romantic scenes I do remember; they were pretty hot, which, for me, is what these books are mostly about. Plus, it is in Scotland which seems to be really popular.
I’ve glanced back through and wish I could remember more. But, from what I saw, I would read it again.