For the suggested theme of romantic suspense or paranormal romance, I dug out Queen of Dragons, the third book in Shana Abé’s drákon series, This book languished in my digital TBR for no real reason I can determine. I liked the two books before it, but I sort of forgot that I had this one. Part of that is the cover, or lack thereof — when I bought it, it didn’t have the gorgeous cover pictured here, but instead had a generic cover.Not very exciting, right? But it popped up in Calibre when I was looking for something paranormal that I’d had for a while without reading, because I had sorted by author. So I guess that last-name-A thing works, but so does putting good covers on e-books.
As for the book itself, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It definitely has middle-book syndrome; the main romantic couple gets together, but very little else about the overall story arc is resolved, and there are as many questions raised as answered, if not more. The main character, Maricara, is a good strong heroine, and her Eastern European background makes her stand out from the English drákon (a magical race, some of whom can turn into dragon form and/or smoke form). But her strength also limits her choices; she is Alpha, the ruler of her people, and once she meets Kimber, the English Alpha, it is a foregone conclusion by everyone that they will mate. Unfortunately Maricara doesn’t have complete control of herself at night, and there’s some suspicion that she has killed prize animals (at least) while sleep-turning. Sort of — honestly, that part confused me, since some of what she’s accused of, but not all, turns out to be the work of the bad guys hunting the drákon. Cynically, it seemed to me to be a convenient plot device for Kimber to lock her up or blindfold her at key moments in the book, since her sleep-turning problem wasn’t really solved or explained by the end of the novel.
I thought Kimber was a little boring; clever, responsible, capable, and just occasionally resentful at being thrust into the Alpha role because his parents ran off looking for his little sister (heroine of the previous book). Every time I thought that resentment might lead to something really interesting, he got all responsible again — great for the survival of his people and all, but too close to perfect for me to find him interesting. And of course there’s no need to judge whether he and Maricara really belong together, because it’s clear that the chemistry between them is irresistible. Almost “fated mate,” which is always a difficult device for me.
Abé writes well; the characters come alive, the action scenes are vivid, and the plot isn’t predictable. I probably should have read this book sooner, with the earlier ones fresh in my mind, and I’m definitely going to read the next two books soon, to find out what happens with all the plot threads left dangling at the end of this one. (Plus there’s Rhys, Kimber’s younger (and more interesting) brother, who’s the hero of the next book.) I recommend this series, but not this book by itself.