Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-076-9
Paranormal Romance, 2008
Our heroine Esther Conway is a big fan of the early 19th-century author Margaret Marsden. Not just because Esther is a descendant, but also because Esther loves Margaret’s Gothic stories. She wants to write a book on Margaret’s life but to do that, she needs to find out as much as she can about the circumstances behind Margaret’s mysterious disappearance shortly after Margaret’s husband forbade her to write any more stories. When the story opens, she is thrilled when she discovers a rare copy of The Prince of Costanzo while she is in England with her fiancé Kevin. Poor Esther. She is stuck in a relationship with a man who mocks her writing career and shows little understanding when it comes to her plans to write a book about Margaret Marsden.
While reading The Prince of Costanzo, however, Esther learns that she can somehow be transported into the story each time she reads the book. Bastian Bux, eat your heart out! Her familiarity with the basic premise and the cast, however, will not help her when she finds herself falling under the spell of the villain of the story, Prince Drago. Along the way, she will discover what really happened to Margaret Marsden as well as what the “true” story of The Prince of Costanzo really is.
The premise is most interesting indeed and Ms Treanor manages to keep things interesting right to the last page. The set-up and the way the story twists and turns are what makes Gothic Dragon a very interesting read. The hero and the heroine are rather dull compared to the rest of the story. There is very little ambiguity here about whether or not Drago is the good guy. He has limited point of view here, so he remains pretty much a one-dimensional character even by the last page. I find Esther a little too needy and at times neurotic. Ms Treanor has Esther’s character undergoing considerable growth as the story progresses, which is good, but she starts out like a typical contrived time-travel neurotic heroine that she may as well wear a sign around her neck: “Walking plot device!”
While I may not remember the characters a few days after I’m done with this one, I will remember that Ms Treanor has written a most interesting book in Gothic Dragon. I may not find it a compelling romance or a good exercise in character study, but I certainly find the very nature of the story interesting enough and the execution of the story entertaining enough to remember the author’s name.