Series: Elder Races #1
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Berkley on 16 June 2011
Reading Challenges: 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Pia Giovanni has a monster sized problem thanks to her ex-boyfriend bragging about her ability to get into locked rooms. She was forced to steal from Dragos Cuelebre, one of the oldest and most powerful dragon shape-shifters in the world. While Dragos’ rage can’t be dampened by the fact she only stole a penny, he is quickly taken by her shapely figure and propensity to do the unexpected.
I have to admit that the first time I read this book I was fairly tepid about it as I had just finished Jeaniene Frost’s One Grave at a Time and every other PNR novel I touched felt beige in comparison. I picked this one up again on a whim and was able to enjoy it on its own merits.
Pia is a study in contrasts as she is incredibly paranoid but also has a very strong moral compass. Not many would have the gumption or skills to steal from an easily angered supe and those that did would probably not steal the smallest item they could and leave an apology note behind. Pia was taught to be suspicious of others and to avoid close relationships by her mother because they can transform into a very rare creature. What she turns into is pretty cheesy but I can honestly say I didn’t see it coming.
Dragos has built up a fierce reputation over the centuries. Many other leaders only manage a small demesnes but his stretches the length and breadth of the world, such is his power. Obviously with great power, comes great…numbers of people that resent you. Only a few people have the skill to orchestrate something so great and it is clear that Pia isn’t the one pulling the puppet strings but rather has been manipulated herself. Dragos quickly suspects the Dark Fae king who loathes him but finding the man and keeping Pia safe, so he can personally punish her, proves surprisingly difficult. Dragos is pretty in touch with his wyr side so he oozes Alpha male from every pore. Pia confounds and fascinates him because she refuses to follow his orders and wants to have her views taken seriously.
I thoroughly enjoyed the intricacies of the world Harrison has created even though it kept taking my attention away from the lead characters. Much of it is fairly stock-standard if you read a lot of PNR but the sheer variety of supernatural creatures, their politics and rules helped bring the world to life. Pia and Dragos were less appealing. I found some of the dialogue pretty stilted and the way they reacted to different events was at odds with their earlier attitudes such as when Pia blithely accepts being penned up in a gilded cage despite her mother’s teachings. Dragos isn’t much better as instead of immediately fleeing from the baddies in an Otherland, this ultra-warrior stops to get soap for Pia on the off-chance she wanted to have a bath and initiates loud sexy times with her despite the fact they were trying to be quiet so they avoided detection.
This ticks quite a few boxes for me and is a fairly solid read. Now the stage has been set, so to speak, I would like to know more about the other races and some greater subtlety in the depiction of the characters.