by Sara Dennis, paranormal (2006)
Cobblestone Press, $6.99, ISBN 1-60088-022-3
In Sara Dennis' The Dragon Undone, our hero Berdhan is that familiar "drunk and down in the blues" fellow who is just waiting for that one push to become a dashing if somewhat reluctant hero coming to everyone's rescue. Set in a pretty generic sword-and-sorcery fantasy setting, this story has the village of Weld being terrorized by mean dragons and the people of Weld bank all their hopes on a depressed drunkard to stave off the threat of those dragons. Berdhan has been miserable since his brother Deorward was killed by a dragon but because he has promised Deorward to take care of Weld the way Deorwald had, he gets off his behind to lead the men on a surprise attack on the dragon that some villagers claim to have seen.
Our heroine Chaia is like the heroine in that Disney cartoon The Little Mermaid because our female silver dragon wants to learn how to live like a human. She's learning to move on two feet in her human form under the amused tutelage of her brother Silaune when Berdhan's men stumble upon the two dragons. Because Chaia is in human form, she is mistakenly assumed by these men to be Sila's captive and ends up being "rescued" and taken back to Weld. She vows to find a way to get back to Sila, but of course, this means she has to get past Berdhan first. He, like the others, believes that the dragon must have cast some kind of spell over her and they won't let her go back to that dragon for her own "good". There may be more trouble to come, though. As befitting her role as a heroine in a paranormal romance, Chaia's private parts are very precious, especially since she's the first female dragon in a very long time, and there is a male dragon about who has decided that Chaia is his mate and he's going to get her by hook or by crook.
The best things about The Dragon Undone are the last few chapters which are very well written and get the adrenaline pumping a little bit. For the most part the story doesn't really come together well. I realize what Ms Dennis is trying to do as she attempts to address difficult questions that stand in the way between our main characters and a happily ever after. However, it seems as if the idea is there but the execution doesn't live up to the potential. Too much of Chaia's "love" for Berdhan consists of what seems like naive and blind trust that reflects more on her personality rather than this grand love she's found. Berdhan can be really irritating as he is that fellow who just repeatedly won't listen to Chaia and ends up getting them both in hot water and, worse, mouthing off to the bad guys as if he has some kind of death wish on his head. The author seems to force love on her main characters because I don't see these two falling in love in this story. There are too many issues between them and the authors fail to address these issues credibly so the love thing doesn't ring real.
The Dragon Undone has the potential to be some kind of epic fantasy romance but alas, I actually feel that the last few chapters when the author lets go of the romance and let things rip instead the best ones in the story. There are plenty of good ideas here, but not enough of them come off well in the execution.
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