Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Dragon Bound and Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison

Yay, I finally did it! I finally sat down and tackled this two-fer :) And now I'm nervous because my opinion of the books are different than most, but hey, honesty right? :)

Nothing going much with my life. I'm still sick - booo. Although I think it's getting better. I got some sad news yesterday. The Father for whom I used to send emails for passed away :( It was so unexpected, especially since I spoke to him not too long ago... But he lived a wonderful and long life... and I'm glad he didn't suffer at the end. So that's a good thing. What bothers me though is that I'm going to miss his funerals which are on Saturday :( That really sucks. Life.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the reviews :) Now, I need to work on my monthly post for August...

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley in May 2011
Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful-and passionate-of the Elder races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave - although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul...
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #1

The Story: All her life, Pia Giovanni - half-human and half-wyr - has hidden her true nature. However, in a moment of weakness, she forgets her mother's warning and training and reveals part of what she is to her ex-boyfriend. Biggest mistake of her life as the bastard blackmails her into stealing from Dragos Cuelebre, one of the most powerful, feared and respected Wyr. After completing her task, Pia leaves New York City and goes under as she does not intend to be blackmailed for the rest of her life.

It does not take long for Dragos to find Pia. While furious, Dragos is also intrigued by this woman, this thief who left a note of apology. Also, she's one of the few that stands up to him. Definitively attracted to Pia, Dragos decides to keep her for himself... but others have other plans concerning both Pia and Dragos.

My Opinion: Dragon Bound is Ms Harrion's debut novel and wow, the buzz it has received!! It was quite unbelievable. Aside from the positive reviews, one of the reasons I picked up Dragon Bound was that many have likened this series to the Psy-Changelings series by Ms Singh. I thought it made sense since both series are published by Berkley. To say I went in with high expectations would be a bit of an understatement LOL. Overall, I think that Dragon Bound was a solid debut novel, a good start to a series... but I wasn't as wowed as everyone.

First, I gotta agree with everyone that Pia was a great heroine. She's smart and level-headed which are two great qualities in a heroine in paranormal romance. Plus, I loved the way she stood up to Dragos, not letting him push her around and making her own decisions. She wasn't a predator, didn't have the alphaness or the kiss-ass attitude, but that doesn't mean she let people walk over her and I admire her for that. She dealt with whatever situations she found herself in and handled herself well. Basically, I liked that she wasn't the fragile little princess waiting to be rescued or following the lead. As for Dragos, he was an okay hero. I wasn't that impressed with him basically because I've over-dosed a little on the uber-alpha heroes. I mean, they stand over the heroines, all hubbah hubbah, being all possessive and overprotective and it's just getting old. I guess though, no matter how alpha or how old, they can still learn new tricks :) So it wasn't that Dragos was a bad hero, but simply that he wasn't refreshing ^_^; And then, the romance turns out to be a case of "mating." Once again, not a bad thing, but just not refreshing. I also think it was pretty one-sided from Dragos. I think you see a few signs from Pia, but it wasn't as obvious. Perhaps because Pia is more rational. Although I think it's a great thing that Pia didn't give in so easily as it gave them the chance to get to know each other... Still, I think that the whole mating storyline just precipitates the romance :(

The overall storyline of Dragon Bound was interesting. It's political and intrigues and I always like those. I don't think it's as strong as the Psy-Changelings series, but then that's really top-notched. One of my complaints though is that I thought the world-building in The Elder Races series was a bit weak. First of all, you have a lot of paranormal beings, some of them living thousands of years literally, and I think they weren't well defined. For example, you have elves, fairies and wyrs. What are wyrs, how does each race function, how did they come into power, what about the council? Then, what about humans? How do they factor in in this world? How can they have power? It just wasn't clear for me. I understand that really, Ms Harrison couldn't address everything in one book and that's why having so many races is always a risk. Perhaps if she had focused a little bit more on one aspect of this world in this book and left the rest for another book, it would have worked. In this case, I feel like Ms Harrison tried to give the readers a too broad overview and at the end, I still don't have a sense of the world unfortunately ^_^;

Still I think there's more good in Dragon Bound than issues. Like I mentioned, I loved Pia. I also loved the secondary characters - Rune, Graydon and Tricks :) I like the friendship that forms between them and Pia. I was really happy that the readers got to find out what kind of Wyr Pia is and I think it was very, very clever. The part with the white dragon was very cute :) And finally, the writing was also good - very reminiscent of Ms Singh.

My Grade: B. There's not doubt that Dragon Bound was a solid debut novel and shows a lot of potential. For me though, there were important issues and it wasn't a wowzer. I don't think it's a case of too high expectations or buzz overkill. I can see why other readers enjoy it so much. For me though, the feeling, the connection to the characters and story simply wasn't there.

Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley in August 2011

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle found sanctuary among the Wyr in New York. Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle's death, there are those who don't want to see her ascend the throne...

Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the Wyr's best weapons. And he's the one sent to protect Tricks when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.

Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them- a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #2

The Story: Tricks is the only survivor of the Fae royal family which was slaughtered centuries ago by her uncle in his quest to overtake the crown. To survive, Tricks sought refuge under Dragos and lived in plain sight as Dragos' PR, a thorn in Urien's side. After the events of Dragon Bound and the death of Urien, as the rightful heir to the crown, Tricks must return to the Fae to rule her people. That means leaving the Wyrs behind.

Unfortunately, as expected, not everyone is thrilled that Tricks is alive. When there is an attempt on her life, Tiago - one of Dragos' sentinel - rushes to her rescue. Then, there is a second attempt on her life and that's when things get more complicated as the assassins are not Fae, but Wyrs. Who can Tricks trust? One thing is sure though, she is stuck with Tiago as her protector.

My Opinion: After reading Dragon Bound, I was really looking forward to reading Storm's Heart because I really liked Tricks. The lady is bubbly, witty and fun and she's lived with Wyrs for centuries and therefore is not afraid to go up against them. Unfortunately, in Storm's Heart, we got to see the vulnerable side of Tricks instead, which meant a lot of self-pity and uncertainty. While it made sense that Tricks had some fears regarding the role she was about to assume and while it added some depth to her character, it wasn't the Tricks I was expecting to read about... and quite frankly, she just wasn't as interesting as I had expected. I kept hoping she'd get in control, grasp the reins of her life... but it seems to me instead, she kept being pushed around by Tiago and the control just slipped away from her.

As for Tiago, well he was even more hubbah hubbah than Dragos, if that's possible ^_^; Like he isn't more dominant than Dragos, but his attitude with Tricks? Yep, much more possessive and overprotective... and I think in part, Tricks is to blame because she lets him. She tried to escape a few times, but otherwise, she didn't stand up much to Tiago in my opinion. Anyway, back to Tiago. Unfortunately, he didn't make much of an impression to me. He's surly, good at being a warrior... There's nothing much to him, at the end of the book, I didn't get a feel for him.

And the romance? What romance? Once again, the male finds himself mating with the female without knowing it. In my opinion, there's no development to it. After centuries of knowing each other, suddenly, wham bam, the two are in love and that's it. I mean, it was hinted in Dragon Bound that there was something between them and you see it really early on in Storm's Heart when Tiago rushes to Tricks' rescue... However, there are no real development to it. The only interesting thing to this romance is as a Fae, Tricks doesn't feel the mating bond and could have turned Tiago down. Which raises another question: how does the whole mating thing works then? Oh and at the end, when Tiago gives everything up to be with Tricks... Nice grand gesture, but a bit sudden and too easy perhaps.

The storyline is what saves this book for me. I thought it was a bit obvious that Tricks going back to the Fae demesnes to become Queen wouldn't go smoothly, but I like political intrigues. However, I enjoyed finding out more about the Fae and I liked all the tidbits that went into Tricks getting ready to become Queen. For example charming the staff, the protocol moments, etc.

My Grade: C-. Unfortunately, the characters and the romance in Storm's Heart just didn't do it for me. At this point, I'm not sure I'll pick up Rune's book.