Reviewed: March 5, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Dragon, Book 1
Rating: 2 Stars
Length: 304 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
The good things about Dragon Heat are the originality of the world Allyson James has created, the delicacy of the dragon mythos, and the delightful culture and descriptive setting of San Francisco. It almost pains me to admit, however, that one significant flaw superseded those gems. I just didn't find the story to be all that well written.
It's odd, actually, because the pieces were all there. The heroine, Lisa Singleton, was a competent, reasonably intelligent young woman who, upon the death of her grandmother, was making a life for herself as an assistant to a televised cooking show. She's survived a failed marriage and difficulties with her previous employment, and I thought her character was realistic and sympathetic. The male lead, Caleb, is the dragon protector - quite literally. He's been conscripted by witches who know his true name to watch over Lisa, though neither Caleb nor Lisa know the full reasoning behind it. When Caleb takes human form to guard Lisa from the black dragon who is willing to destroy the world and Lisa along with it by using a dragon orb to end his exile from the realm of dragons, the author wrote him in such a way that his otherness was believable...if a bit too childish and boorish at turns. Even the antagonists, the black dragon and the evil witch Donna, were reasonably represented...though the progression of story concerning the black dragon takes a bit of a turn and he ends up not being quite the evil that was originally indicated.
So with all those nice pieces, what could go wrong? Well, for me, it was much like the author failed to assemble those pieces into a coherent, seamless, and pleasing picture. The mechanics of the writing wasn't at fault, I didn't find any significant technical errors that would point out the why of the failure, but there just wasn't any cohesion to the story and it became very much like reading about marionettes being pulled about by their strings. I felt no chemistry between Lisa and Caleb, despite the obvious attempts to instill it. I felt no sense of true danger from the witch Donna. Instead, she struck me as more a craven and debauched power junkie. Malcolm, the black dragon, was more sinister and he turned out to be a relatively decent - if patently black dragon - male.
The two bright spots were the reveal of Lisa's true nature, and the evolution of the relationship between Malcolm and Saba. And the fact that their relationship was more interesting and compelling than Lisa and Caleb's is dangerously indicative of the problem. It's not their book - it shouldn't have been. I know many people enjoyed this book, and every opinion is valid, but for me, it just didn't work. I ended up feeling nothing at all about the characters and caring nothing at all about continuing the series. Well...maybe I'll try Malcolm's story.
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