Berkley Sensation, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-425-21589-0
Fantasy Romance, 2007
Dragon Heat is the first book by Allyson James for Berkley, but this author is not new as she’s previously published under the name Jennifer Ashley. I find her books for the LoveSpell special series The Immortals pretty interesting starts for the author’s new direction as a romantic urban fantasy author, so here I am, reading the first book in a series about dragons who can take human forms thanks to magic of witches.
You see, powerful witches can summon dragons from this realm called Dragonspace and bring them to our world by creating some kind of portal that connects the two worlds. One such portal exists in Lisa Singleton’s apartment. Actually, it is really her late grandmother’s apartment and clearly the late dear had been entertaining a dragon in the apartment long before Lisa inherited it. At any rate, Lisa now shares her apartment with the gold dragon Caleb. Caleb is under a spell cast by a coven of witches led by the high priestess Donna which prevents him from leaving the apartment. Unknown to Lisa, Caleb is under orders to report to these witches Lisa’s every doing. You see, Lisa is a Special Heroine who is going to get Very Special Magic soon and when she does, she’s going to be hot property for the first bad guy that snaps her up.
Caleb, of course, has grown fond of Lisa to the point that when Lisa is in danger of being nabbed by a minion of a powerful black dragon currently exiled to this world in human, he manages to persuade Donna’s underling Saba to cast a spell on him. This spell allows Caleb to turn into a naked hunk that fits the description of Fabio to a disquieting degree. Even more importantly, he can now move in and out of Lisa’s apartment freely, so he’s going to protect Lisa from the black dragon, Malcolm.
The pragmatic economics of writing a series ensures that Ms James is obligated not to waste any character with a penis and lots of angst, so the black dragon turns out to be a Not That Bad After All guy who is getting his book next. The bad guy in this book, therefore, is naturally Donna. After all, she has no penis and therefore no sequel value, so she may as well be the stereotypical half-insane crazy villainess who actually sneers and screeches every time she opens her mouth to speak.
It isn’t long before Lisa’s quest for some powerful artefact called the dragon orb soon degenerates into way too many sex sessions with Caleb. It does seem as if every detail in the magic and what-not of this story turns out to be an excuse to get our main characters all shagged up. Donna, when she’s not opening her mouth to speak, is using her mouth to do obscene skanky things to incubi because she’s going to use her magic vagina – an evil one, of course, unlike our heroine’s which is all good and mighty – to augment her evil powers. Even many of the scenes between Saba and Malcolm are sexual in nature. While this book is not that erotic, it does feel to me that there is one too many sex scene that turn the story into something more akin to an adult cartoon rather than a story to be taken seriously either as a comedy or a sexy paranormal romance.
Ms James manages to pepper her story with plenty of funny repartees between Caleb and Lisa, which goes some way in making Dragon Heat readable despite its paper-thin plot. When Donna is not giving the reader a seminar on Skank 101, Caleb and Lisa are getting all hot and bothered while Saba and Malcolm are sexing things up to build reader anticipation for their upcoming book. It’s enough to make me wish that Malcolm will be struck with erectile dysfunction in his upcoming book, if that is what it will take for Ms James to give me a story that does the world-building any justice.