Must Love Dragons
by Stephanie Rowe, fantasy (2006)
Warner, $6.50, ISBN 0-446-61767-9

Interestingly enough, my husband had only read a bit of Must Love Dragons before he told me that the author must be a lawyer of some sort. I checked the author's biography and sure enough, Stephanie Rowe used to be an attorney. My husband, who didn't read far enough to reach the author's biography, felt this way because the plot of the story relies heavily on the main characters trying to wiggle their way in and out of contracts. "Who likes to read this kind of thing, apart from lawyers?" my husband said. I have a more positive reaction to this book, fortunately.

Have you ever wanted to read a paranormal romance where the heroine is a dragon? A dragon in "her favorite come-hither outfit: a leather miniskirt, a black lace bra under a transparent white top, the tpaz earrings she'd bought during their brief stay in the Amazon (so what if dragons don't have ears? The scales located on the side of her head worked just fine), a new diamond stud in the piercing at the end of her tail, and, of course, her new ankle bracelet"? It's your lucky day - this is the book. Of course, the author cops out considerably by having Theresa Nichols being turned into a human for the most part of this story, so if you're a fan of creepy human-dragon coital intercourses, you're so out of luck, sorry.

Theresa is a dragon and therefore she is pretty much confined to an apartment apart from an illegal trip to town to get her favorite food (pretzels). When the story begins, she is also the new Guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth (which goes by the name Mona). To keep things simple, let's just say that many people, from Satan to the current crazy dictator of the season who wants to rule everything and everybody, wants Mona really badly. A plot is brewing and Theresa is going to get caught in the middle of it, but she's not aware of all that at first when she begins an online affair with one Zeke. Zeke begins pressuring her to meet up and have sex - or else he will go have sex with some floozy and break it off with Theresa instead - and instead of telling Zeke to take his motherboard and shove it where the sun doesn't shine on him, Theresa makes a deal with Satan to take on human form.

Zeke Siccardi, like all men, has another reason to meet Theresa - he's actually a PI who has been paid by someone to locate her. I know! A PI who uses his real name in his dealings - isn't that a hoot? At any rate, Zeke is actually a dragon slayer. Ex-dragon slayer, if you listen to him, but he's still one anyway. When he realizes that he has inadvertently placed Theresa in danger by locating her, therefore blowing her cover and placing an old enemy of hers right on her tail, he decides to do the right thing and protect her.

Ms Rowe has pleasantly enough removed most of the sillier over-the-top concepts of her previous book in this series so that for the most part Must Love Dragons has a stronger storyline than the book that came before it. Satan is too adorable here, which surprises me as I detested that fellow in the previous book. The comedy just keeps coming in the form of snappy repartees and one-liners. This book is a complete hoot to read.

However, I must say that I never could "get" the characters of Zeke and Theresa. Zeke, for example, is actually quite creepy. This fellow knows that he is conditioned to slay dragons and yet he insists that Theresa should stick with him even if, you know, he can easily lose control and stick a knife into her belly. And then he happily agrees to let his friend kill her after a certain period of time because he has some kind of debt of honor to this friend - and besides, he tells himself that it's not like he cares for Theresa or anything. At this point I am totally confused by this man. How can he be delusional enough to appoint himself as a protector of Theresa when he's clearly not willing to go all out to protect her? As for Theresa, when she realizes that he has a vow of honor that will force him to choose between her and his friend, when she suspects that he may have killed her parents, her reaction is pretty much, "Oh dear... hey, you know what? Let's have sex in the shower!"

In other words, I don't understand what is going on in these two characters' heads. As a result, I can't really get into the story. Laugh at it, yes, enjoy it, definitely, but to completely appreciate it as a love story, not really. It is a good thing that Ms Rowe has a sense of humor that greatly appeals to me because I suspect that, with my disconnect with the characters, I won't enjoy this story as much if it were written by some other author.

Rating: 77

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