On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons—actual freaking dragons—battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.
As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human—especially such a compelling one—is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has just become the one thing Rhys needs. A complete bond will give him the strength to fight; a denied bond means certain death.
Kai is terrified at the thought of allowing any dragon into her mind…or her heart. Accepting the heartswearing and staying with the dragons means sacrificing everything, and Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys’s life—a life more crucial to the fate of humanity than she could possibly know.
Source: ARC from Carina Press via NetGalley
I was so looking forward to this book – mountains, dragons, a Welsh name. Tick, tick, tick, my checklist was running over. And then I read it. Not that this is a terrible book, because there is plenty here to like, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for and, well, if I’m totally honest, I found parts of it a little dull.
Most of the reasons for this comes down to two things – Kai and Rhys. While Kai starts off quite good, being all brave and risking her life for strangers, she deteriorates rapidly into a selfish brat. I didn’t blame her for being reluctant to swear to Rhys because she doesn’t know him, but her behaviour before all of that is pretty immature and what she does directly afterwards? Yeah, there was no coming back from that particular moment of selfish stupidity. From that moment on I kept waiting for everyone else to do this world a favour and push her off one of the handily placed cliffs. So many chances!
Sadly, no one fulfilled my greatest wish, so I gave up on her ever redeeming herself (she doesn’t, she gets worse) and turned my attention to Rhys. Which may have been a mistake, because he’s so frustrating! I wouldn’t have blamed him for railing against fate and saddling him with Kai for a heartsworn, but no, instead he seems torn between wanting her and… well, I don’t know what else he does except waste a lot of time not telling her things she needs to know. If Kai had been a little less annoying I might have sympathised with her situation, because Rhys doesn’t do her any favours with all the things he’s hiding.
I also found the plot pretty slow moving, restricted as it is for the most part to a large cave (and connected caverns). There’s a lot of laying of foundations about the war between the dragons and the various allegiances, but very little actually happens between the opening attack and the end. It just drags along with the emotional issues, which I wouldn’t have minded if I’d actually liked any of the characters. The only one I felt any flicker of liking for was Ffion – and I would have liked her heartsworn too, but we don’t see much of him.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Cadoc’s side of things was much more interesting, and he definitely pays for his foolish behaviour. I found myself getting through the other sections as fast as possible in the hopes that more of his story would come along. I’m not sure I was happy with the way things ended on that plot strand, but to be honest the way everything else went I won’t be back for more anytime soon.
Overall this book wasn’t for me. Much though I love dragons and I appreciated the geographical spread of their origins in this book, I need characters I can root for, like and sympathise with – or at the very least that I find interesting. Sadly, I didn’t find enough of them here to retain my interest.
Soul of Smoke is out July 27th!
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