My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dragon Bound starts with a roar and doesn’t let up for the first half of the book. In fact, that first chapter is absolutely awesome and should be studied if you’re an author who wants to figure out how to hook readers. It’s simple, painting an alternate reality where magical folk walk more or less openly among humans. Pia, a thief who is more than even she realizes, has just finished conducting her first and last heist and purchases a “binding” to make sure her ex-boyfriend doesn’t force her into stealing again. As she walks to said ex’s apartment, an ear-splitting roar thunders through the crowd and rolls onward for miles.
The roar comes from Cuelebre Tower. Dragos has discovered her theft from his hoarde and he’s not happy. Not. One. Bit. However, the scent of her hand on the note she left him (and that’s such a good note I refuse to spoil it) has triggered his memory. He knows that scent from somewhere back in the time when the world was still new. Filled with rage and interest, he searches after Pia.
The first half of this book is non-stop action. In fact, I started to get tired from it and had to take a break. However, the world is very interesting and extremely well-built. Dragos himself is mostly consistent, except when he doesn’t want to be, and Ms. Harrison does a great job of showing him as cunning and intelligent. And powerful. The guy is Power incarnate and it’s a fantastic thing to watch. She also does a wonderful job of showing that he can, on occasion, control himself…when necessary. With Pia, of course, control is a lot more difficult.
Pia, on the other hand, is a bit more of a problem. She shows just enough intelligence that I couldn’t quite hate her. And once I found out her Wyr identity, her behavior made a little more sense. However, based on the description on the back and the way she was introduced, I expected something different than the way she behaves through a good portion of the book. Oh, and I found it annoying that it was never clear just how much she knew about herself and her mother. When I wasn’t annoyed at that, I was annoyed at the deliberate holding back of information in the character’s thoughts. I felt it was a cheap trick to heighten suspense without keeping readers outside her heroine’s head. Doing that for a couple of chapters is fine. Doing that for almost the entire book is not.
In the first half of the book, Dragos and Pia are fantastic together. The dialogue is snappy without sounding canned and the two work surprisingly well together.
In the second half, things slow down and I have to admit, it was almost like reading a different book, especially after the non-stop action of the first half. On the plus side, this allows for more quiet interaction between Dragos and Pia, as well as a bit more immersion in Dragos’ world. Their relationship becomes more believable and much stronger. However, considering the build-up, it feels somewhat anti-climactic. I found myself wishing there was less sex and more plot.
Oh, by the way, for those who are looking for a clean read, this isn’t it. I mean, it’s really not it. From the first “beguilement” to the last quasi-romantic intimate moment the sex is so intense that it gets silly at times. I hate to say it, but there were times when I laughed out loud. Using words that used to be confined to erotica only served to heighten the silliness at the worst moments. And the timing of one of those scenes was awful. They’ve just escaped from the goblins, they have who knows how many enemies on their tail, including the supposedly uber-nasty Dark Fae King, and they take time to hump. More than once, depending on how you look at it. Why they weren’t running like mad back to the Tower, I have no idea. Even Dragos’ arrogance doesn’t answer the question for me because it’s never really explained and isn’t he supposed to be intelligent? Pity.
One last thing that annoyed me in the second half is the way Pia talks people down. It felt a little too neat and pat. And there were times when she acted feminine in a way that didn’t seem to fit with who she is.
The ending is good in some ways. We learn all of Pia’s secrets, including one she wasn’t even aware of until the end. I particularly liked that one. It was cute and made me smile. However, I wish Ms. Harrison had taken more time to construct a final fight that would have some emotional punch to it. The last scenes were good but, again, felt a little flat compared to the beginning. If there had been less action in the first half, I think it would have evened the story out and made it more enjoyable.
However, in spite of all that (including the silly sex scenes), I liked it. The characters were fun, including the fairy, Tricks. She’s so cute, I might actually pick up the next in the series. We’ll see.