Bantam, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-553-58806-4
Fantasy Romance, 2008 (Reissue)
Queen of Dragons returns to Shana Abé’s world of communist drákons. It’s too bad that this book is such a bewildering underwritten mess, because the two main characters are actually not that clichéd for once. By the way, I heartily recommend that you read at the very least the previous book in the series, The Dream Thief, before you tackle this baby because this story is a complete mess and it won’t help you fill in the blanks.
At any rate, the plot takes off where the last book left off. Princess Maricara is a female drákon who can turn, sorry, Turn into smoke. The capital T is necessary because this is a very special kind of turning, I suppose, snort. That makes her the only kind of female of value in this setting, or at least worthy of being married to our Alpha hero, Kimber Langford. Maricara rules the Carpathian drákons under her brother’s name from the castle of Zaharen Yce, because these lovely communist dragon-pig creatures (humor me, I’m tired of typing drákon) don’t let their women do anything. I’m surprised these women don’t wear burqas in this story.
So, when the story opens, the English dragon-pigs are sending men to spy on Maricara, and this is after they have passed the motion to marry Kimber off to Maricara, hence allowing Kimber control over Maricara’s people. Not that she knows of this betrothal, of course. What can I say? These are the 18th-century English pigs we are talking about, after all, so I guess this is just part of the imperialism movement of the motherland or something. At any rate, Maricara falls straight into Kimber’s clutches when she pays him a visit. You see, lifestock and even the dragon-pigs Kimber sent to her place are showing up dead, and she needs to lay low away from her homeland as her people are starting to suspect that she’s the one committing all that bestial brutality in the neighborhood. Alas, her problems soon follow her to Kimber’s doorsteps.
So, we have dead cows, some missing girls, and a possibility that smart humans are gathering to kill off these dragon-pig creatures. That seems like an interesting story, right? You’d think there is nothing more than a few skimpy underpants gone missing from the morning laundry the way Kimber and Maricara act in this story. She flies around, wanting to be free even if she’s risking discovery – even after she knows that there are people out to get her. Kimber chases after her, mooning after her when he’s not trying very hard to force her into becoming his mate. Late in the story, the heroine pretty much flies into danger and she is rescued through a plot development that is nothing of her doing. I tell you, if the main characters don’t care about anything beyond the joining of his tab A into her slot B, why should I care?
The romance is a complete dud because… well, there is no romance in the first place. All I have here is Kimber saying that Maricara is his mate. Conveniently enough, he smells… senses… whatever… his way into this realization only after he has agreed that she’s going to be married to him, whether she likes it or not. I’d think the author will be a little bit more subtle in using the “Honey, I smelled your crotch and I know you’re my mate, so it’s true love!” shortcut in this story, but no. As for Maricara, at first she’s insisting that she’s free and she will not marry him, but then all of a sudden later in the story she will be boinking him in a chemistry-free shag pile. Maybe she smells something funky coming from his rear end or wherever it is these dragon-pigs secrete their true love from? And then they announce that they are in love and that’s pretty much it for romance where this story is concerned.
There are some plot threads here that are left unanswered, such as the cause of Maricara’s sleepwalking episodes. Perhaps they are meant to be resolved in the next book? Then again, I’m not exactly too concerned about this, because this book is so underwritten and bewilderingly plotted to the point that even the main characters don’t seem to care about the plot they are stuck in. The only reason I’d recommend this book to you is if you have a fetish for unreasonably alpha heroes who treat their women more like chattel than anything else, you need to have that itch tended to now, and any book, even this shoddily-written dreck, will do. If that is the case, knock yourself out darling.