Review: Maiden Flight by Bianca D’Arc

maiden flightFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook
Genre: fantasy romance, erotic romance
Series: Dragon Knights #1
Length: 173 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: August 28, 2012 (first edition published February 1, 2006)
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

A chance meeting with a young male dragon seals the fate of one adventurous female poacher. The dragon’s partner, a ruggedly handsome knight named Gareth, takes one look at the shapely woman and decides to do a little poaching of his own.

Sir Gareth both seduces and falls deeply in love with the girl who is not only unafraid of dragons but also possesses a rare gift—she can hear the beasts’ silent speech. He wants her for his mate, but mating with a knight is no simple thing. To accept a knight, a woman must also accept the dragon, the dragon’s mate…and her knight, Lars, too.

She is at first shocked, then intrigued by the lusty life in the Lair. But war is in the making and only the knights and dragons have a chance at ending it before it destroys their land and their lives.

My Review:

dragonriders of pernWhen I read Bianca D’Arc’s Maiden Flight I couldn’t help but compare life in the lair to life in the weyr, as in dragon’s weyr. I don’t know if the author intended the story as a more liberated, or at least kinkier response to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, I’d be astonished if some parallel wasn’t meant.

And the sexual aspects of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders world really did need to be addressed, but we’ll get there later.

Meanwhile, about this particular set of dragons, instead of thread and a red star, we have a brewing war, and a young woman poaching game to feed herself and her mother, only to have her kill stolen right out from under her.

Make that stolen from above her, by a dragon. And she starts an argument with the beast! (Clearly she’s never seen the t-shirt “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup”!)

Belora knows the dragon is not a beast. Her mother’s childhood friend was a dragon, so Belora has grown up on stories of Mama Kelzy the dragon. From her mother, Belora has inherited the rare ability to speak to dragons, mind to mind. Kelvan, the dragon who poached from the poacher, is enchanted with the spitfire. So much so that he entices her to fly with him to meet his knight, Gareth.

Belora goes along with Kelvan because she really needs that meat. She hopes that Gareth will hear her out. Kelvan brings her because women who have the dragon-speaking gift are rare, and there are extremely few women in the dragon lair.

Kelvan is being selfish. He can’t claim his mate unless his knight is mated. He hopes (and it turns out that he’s right) that Belora will be Gareth’s destined mate.

But Belora and her mother have lived a relatively isolated life. Belora is not just a virgin, she has less idea than most women of what to expect from lair life. (And yes, we’ve heard this before, on Pern again)

The knights, the dragons, and the lairs that support them have come up with some very creative, not to mention kinky solutions to the scarcity of women in the lairs. Will Belora’s growing love for Gareth help her to overcome her shock at a range of sexual experiences that her life had never prepared her for?

Escape Rating B-: Maiden Flight read a bit like two stories glued together. And maybe it was. This was originally written in 2006 and recently revised and updated.

The scarcity of women in the lair provides a thinly veiled excuse for the menage. On the other hand, why not? All the knights are men (although why that is required is a whole other question that was never answered) and there are very few women who can hear the dragons. And dragon sex is so overwhelming (shades of Anne McCaffrey again) that the dragons can’t mate unless their knights are mated. Dragons, of course, do come in both sexes. Instant menage, every time. (I do wonder if any of the knights are going to be gay in later stories?)

For someone who has never even been in love before, Belora is awfully accepting of everything that happens to her, and everything happens very, very fast. Including at least one lovemaking session where the dragon participates. Just a bit. It’s not quite as “eww” as it sounds, but this is not a dragon-shifter we’re talking about here. It’s an actual dragon. And Belora was totally inexperienced less than a week prior.

It was better than the initial dragon mating in McCaffrey which only escaped being rape because the right dragon won the flight. In D’Arc’s world, the woman has to give consent first to both the men and the entire arrangement before hand. The consent may not be 100% informed, but it is way ahead of force majeur.

That being said, I still loved McCaffrey’s Dragonriders and was almost as swept away by that scene as Lessa was. Maturity is not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes. (For a completely different view, read my friend Draconismoi’s post on The Draconic UnMentionables at Book Lovers Inc.)

In the case of Maiden Flight, I found the teasing hints of a possible relationship between Belora’s mother Adora and General Jaden very teasing indeed. I’m looking forward to their story.

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