ebook provided by NetGalley
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
March 17, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website
, Publisher’s Website
, Barnes & Noble
, All Romance
If Carol Jenski knows anything, it’s fashion—and it’s not in fashion to consort with dragons, even though they’ve coexisted with humans since World War III. Still, she would never have agreed to take part in a plot against them. Now a dragon lord has called for her head, her boyfriend is MIA and she’s been abandoned in a foreign country.
Only reporter Daniel Wallent is on Carol’s side…sort of. He offers his assistance if she helps him investigate his latest story. He’ll need Carol’s language skills to infiltrate in the organization run by one of the most dangerous and secretive dragons in the world.
Escaping one sociopathic dragon’s claws only to walk into another’s is an insane risk—and so is falling for Daniel. Posing as his blushing—and very affectionate—new bride as cover soon leads to an all-too-real attraction. But fighting off dragons and her desire for Daniel may be more of a challenge than Carol can handle…
Cass: I deeply – and unexpectedly – loved the everloving shit out of Never Deal with Dragons. (Though I still maintain it was inappropriately classified as PNR, and was really UF. Because I must justify this to myself in some way.)
Marlene: Whatever you want to call it, I read Never Deal with Dragons just because you liked it. I was flabbergasted that you liked anything with even a smidgen of romance!
Cass: That’s entirely fair. I read it because I was having a bad week, and I “knew” she’d ruin my dragons. I wanted to hate it and write and ALL CAPS RAGE REVIEW.
Then it turned out to be awesome. The romance wasn’t love-at-first-sight. It wasn’t the driving plot of the book. Myrna was brilliant and capable. Trian acknowledged his douchebaggery, and made appropriate amends. (And he continued to do so as a bit player here in Dancing with Dragons.)
Anyways. With all this in mind, I was actually quite excited to jump into Dancing with Dragons. Though I struggled with the realization that this would make THREE goddamn PNR series that I enjoy (see also: The Edge by Ilona Andrews and The Iron Seas by MelJean Brook).
Marlene: Never Deal with Dragons was terrific (see review)! Myrna was a great heroine who used her brains rather than her brawn to be absolutely kick-ass awesome. And there was none of the dreaded insta-love. I don’t mind in the least following another PNR series (well, duh) but it has to be good. This one got off to a great start, but then, we get Dancing with Dragons, and let’s just say the sophmore book does not live up to the promise of the first one.
Cass: I am absolutely devastated to agree. The opening chapter was riveting – a dragon car chase! BAM AMAZING. GIVE ME MORE. I was practically squealing with excitement (much to the consternation of the family trapped on the plane with me.)
Then Carol wakes up in the hospital (post-head trauma), and the whole thing went careening downhill. I actually stopped to re-read the end of Never Deal with Dragons, because I recalled that Carol knew what Richard had done, and chose to go with him anyways. Also that Richard was deeply and obsessively in love with her blah blah blah dragon killing terrorists need love too. I was correct. Although the author seems to have forgotten.
Carol went from dragonscript expert with shitass taste in men to every possible blonde stereotype in the book (never mind that she’s a ginger.) She threw a goddamn public hissy fit in the hospital when she discovered the surgeons had to cut her hair in order to deal with the head trauma and possible bleeding her her brain. You are alive. WHO CARES ABOUT YOUR HAIR?! It didn’t help that this was a recurring bitch for her throughout the rest of the book. Woe is me, people think I’m a terrorist, I’m a fugitive from the law, and my boyfriend ditched me….but MY HAIR IS GONE!
Basically, I couldn’t stand her. She was TSTL.
Marlene: I’m sitting here watching the rant appear on my screen and just nodding. Or chortling.
Carol was such a poor choice for a heroine, even if it was set up in the first book. I don’t care. It wasn’t just her repeated bad taste in men (it happens) but that she seemed to have regressed from the first book, possibly back to the teenage hormonal-drama stage.
The repeated hair-fits–either screeching or bewailing her short-haired fate, seemed stupid and short-sighted considering that she was on the run for her life through the entire story. WTF?
Repeating her awful judgment of the male of the species by continuing to believe Richard the douche after he abandons her in the hospital in Budapest, leaving her with nothing but the hospital gown on her front. I’d be sending a dragon after his ass, not continuing to justify his assholishness.
Cass: Now, I’ll admit I was willing to give Carol a wee bit of a temporary pass due to the traumatic brain injury. But when you find out that you are wanted for questioning in connection with a terrorist attack that took place while you were in a coma, you TURN YOURSELF IN. Why? Because you have IRREFUTABLE PROOF YOU ARE INNOCENT. A hospital full of people who can document your coma is what we call an airtight alibi.
Or you can take the Carol route, and climb onto the back of a reporter’s motorcycle while wearing nothing but your hospital gown and go on the lam with him in a foreign country.
I guess I should take a moment to lay off Carol, and point out that my usually brilliant and competent Myrna failed to take the requisite 5 minutes on the phone to explain to Carol just what the bloody hell was going on – and instead said, “Oh hey, glad that coma’s over! I suggest you get lost. Bye! Call me. Love you.”
Regardless of Myrna’s temporary failure as a friend, Carol really should have started making logical decisions at some point in the book. But she never did. She repeatedly refused to take advantage of possible routes to immediately clear her name, did not even consider that Richard was guilty, and instead felt SUPER BAD about giving Mr. Sexy Reporter blue balls that one time. Which was like, totally, the worst thing ever! Because how could he cope with such pain?! (Clearly, she’s never heard of masturbation.)
Marlene: If he didn’t go into the shower and take care of business, then they are absolutely perfect for each other, because that would make him equally TSTL. Which would have been the end of the story, because he’s clearly the brains of the outfit, such as they are.
After all, he keeps manipulating Carol (not that that’s not a piece of cake!) and everyone else he comes into contact with. I could sort of understand why she believed him in the first place, but that she kept on believing as his cover got more elaborate, not so much. If his paper could supposedly afford her new designer wardrobe, why didn’t the budget run to a dragonspeaker?
Not to mention, the simple idea that she accepted that it was better to go deceive a second dragon lord rather than finding a straightforward way to get out of her problems with the first one was just bizarre.
If this was intended as screwball comedy, it falls heavily on the screwball side.
Cass: Carol’s stupidity was clearly a plot contrivance. In Never Deal with Dragons, she was put forth as an incomparable language expert, contract genius, and diplomat extraordinaire. Getting that Carol to engage in wee bit of international espionage while under investigation for bioterrorism would have been such a pain in the ass. Ergo, moronic Carol.
By the time we got to the James Bond portion of the book, I was sorely tempted to just stop reading. Carol clearly wasn’t going to get eaten by a dragon, which she richly deserved, and I was done. However, in this respect, her stupidity finally paid off, and we got an actual interesting and engaging dragon plot! Much like the first book, I was fascinated with dragon society, dragon laws, dragon customs, and dragon-human interactions.
Why couldn’t Carol have turned herself in at the beginning of the book, cleared her name (with ease), and been sweet-talked by whatever sexy piece of mancake they had on hand to go undercover for Lord Relobu in India and help avert another international dragon incident?! We could have gotten to the actual plot that much faster, and had a plausible reason for it, while capitalizing on Carol’s overactive hormones and shit judgement all in one go. She still could have hooked up with Mr. Sexy Reporter for their extremely tepid love scenes. And I could have spent more time actually caring about the book.
Marlene: Just in case anyone has missed the point, we don’t like the version of Carol that comes out of her trauma-induced coma in Dancing with Dragons!
Cass: We loved the actual dragon parts of the book! Especially the interlude in India.
Marlene: The Indian dragon lord and the whole story of the plots and counterplots to take over/save/protect the ex-Chinese dragon lord’s former territory was awesome. (Carol did finally get a clue once the entire compound was captured by the rapacious would-be dragon lord and his cronies.
Cass: Trian made a bloody brilliant entrance at this point! The suffering we endured at the beginning was largely worth his hilarious machinations and manipulation of the siege-laying dragonfolk.
Marlene: And just as Trian is resolving everything, Carol of course loses faith in the rescue that she set up and asks him to cart her back to the U.S. This is the point where she should have stuck it out, but Carol continues her pattern of making the worst decisions possible every time.
Cass: I can’t spoil the ending for you, but let’s just make it known that the lawyer has OPINIONS about the Trial of the Century. I believe there is a military term appropriate to this situation: FUBAR.
Escape Rating: Carol gets a D for dumbfuck, but all the other parts (dragons!!!!) are pushing A material (except Lord Relobu. He’s clearly infected with Carol’s stupidity by association). I’ll split the difference and go with a C+. The + is dragon-induced.
Marlene: Carol is way too TSTL to make a half-way decent heroine. Adding the insta-love trope between her and Mr. Sexy Reporter as an attempt to justify why she goes on the lam with him does not make things better. (And some of his behavior does border on TSTL, it doesn’t take much brains to seem smarter than this version of Carol)
Escape Rating C: The dragon politics and backstabbing (or is that front-clawing) were generally awesome, but the choice of Carol as point-of-view character made the non-dragon parts very rough going. If she screeched one more time about her hair or her post-coma lack of muscle tone I was seriously tempted to hope a dragon would eat her. Maybe there’s hope for the next book?
Cass: Note: Stunningly for a PNR, there was no obvious set-up for the next protagonist. Maybe Myrna’s new assistant back in Tulsa? Or one of the bit players in India?
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.