Zebra, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-3163-X
Fantasy Romance, 2017
Bring the Heat is the ninth entry into the Dragon Kin series – and that’s not counting various short stories that popped up along the way – so while the spine of this book still says “Paranormal Romance”, be warned that the series has long since become more of an ensemble fantasy series. The highlighted romance here – between dragons Branwen the Awful and Aidan the Divine – is just one of the numerous threads running simultaneously in this story. In fact, I’d argue that while Keita the Viper had her book a while back, this is just as easily her story – she gets as much screen time as Branwen and Aidan.
Quite a number of characters from previous book take up considerable screen time here, and there are also cameo appearances of practically every character that has ever shown up in this series. Therefore, while readers new to the series can try to read this one without having read previous books, I personally would advise against it. Read the books in order, or else there is a chance of getting lost among the large cast of characters.
The story… oh boy, where do I even start? This one shows the typical problems present in a book that shows up late in a series: after a while, I feel like I’m reading the same story over and over. Once again, the evil god Chramnesind plots to… take over the world, I guess, as her minion Vateria is still around, rallying the troops to take down Annwyl the Bloody, no wait, the plan has been upgraded – we’re taking down the Dragon Queen herself, Rhiannon, fam, woo-hoo. Annwyl mysteriously vanishes while in the middle of a fight – taken straight to Hell, as it turns out – and it is up to Keita, accompanied by Branwen, Aidan, and their two lughead kins, to locate Ren, the Eastern dragon and Keita’s BFF, and… er, something. At any rate, Ren seems to be dead, so Keita leads her entourage – now swelled up with some of those Amazonian Daughters of the Steppe and… wait for now, things just happen to fall into place so our good guys come together in the end for the grand finish, sneeze, and the bad guys are all dead just like that.
Sigh. I feel like I’ve read this story many times around. Let’s see:
- We have an aggressive heroine who thinks that she and the hero are just friends with benefits, until eventually he charms her into admitting that she’s into him like he’s into her.
- Females who verbally and physically assault one another because they are all so tough like that, only to stick together when it counts against the bad guys.
- Males are comedic buffoons, females as physically aggressive and domineering creatures – all of which are played up for laughs.
- Everyone, even the kid, is so powerful and impervious to even breaking a nail that he or she only has to sneeze and twenty hundred enemies are wiped out right away.
- Annwyl goes berserk, tears apart an army, and becomes the boss of the terrified remaining enemy forces. She shows up and charges at the enemies at the grand climax.
- Some new subplots are introduced vaguely, which may or may not be developed at a slow snail’s pace over the next few books.
Mind you, these elements still work for me, but because I’ve come across them so many times already without much variation other than the names of the characters (actually, in most cases, the characters are the same too – Annwyl, for example, has been doing the same things over and over in this and the last few books) – anyway, the magic is gone. It’s no longer haw-haw-haw oh-my-sides from me, more like a weak chuckle or two now and then. I still like reading this book, but a part of me is undeniably bored.
Also, the author is not going to kill of any character, even if doing so will most likely lend the story some weight. Ren, for example, should have stayed dead so that there would be some opportunities to explore Eastern-Southern dragon relationships, but no. Let everyone become invulnerable to death or defeat instead, and jack up their powers so that the series start to resemble fanfiction where all these favorites do is to posture and crack one-liners regardless of context! Now, I have no issues with the bathos in this series – the author is good at this – but I’m disappointed at how there are so many opportunities here to take the series to a different, more interesting direction, but no, the author instead opts to play it safe and just rehash the same things that were present in previous books.
Bring the Heat… sigh, how I wish it did. As I’ve said, I had a pleasant time reading this book, but I wish I’d been a bit more excited over it.