Series: Dragon Heat #1
Format: eBook via Netgalley
Length: 128 pages
Publisher: Forever Yours (August 6, 2013)
Stig Wyvern is ready for his transformation. A dragon shifter who goes through violent phases during his mating period, Stig plans to lock himself in a small cave beneath his isolated home. But his dark secret is threatened when a desperate young woman appears on his doorstep.
Cora Cardenas has nowhere else to go. She’s in deep trouble with some really nasty people and Stig is the only person she can trust. That he’s strong, gorgeous, and makes her tingle with the simplest of smiles is an added bonus. Soon, Cora realizes Stig is hiding something from her—something that may explain the strange noises coming from the basement at night.
Now as the sexual tension—and danger—escalates, Stig needs to get Cora out of his house. But his inner beast has other ideas. He’s found his mate—and she’s not going anywhere . . .
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Stig Wyvern has a bit of a problem: his friend is dead, and his friend's little sister, Cora Cardenas, has shown up at his doorstep in obvious trouble. All of this would be bad enough for most people, but Stig also has to contend with his pending heat; for over a week, he will be in the throes of his beasts' need to claim a mate. The fact that he finds Cora utterly irresistible doesn't help matters any. Oh, and succumbing to his desire? Well, that could make it a lot easier for the Knights of St. George, humans sworn to slay dragons, to find and kill him.
The smart thing would be to turn her away, but Stig can't bring himself to; he'd made a promise to her, when her brother had died, that he would be there for her when she needed him. So he opens his home to her, hoping that he can find a way to help her in whatever pickle she's in and then send her on her way…before his dragon half gets the better of him and claims her as his own.
Cora is in a jam. She's been running some errands for some shady people to work off her brother's gambling debt, and now law enforcement is involved and her bakery has gone up in literal flames. So she fled to Stig, needing to feel safe and get her bearings. Of course, it helps that she's always had a crush on her brother's best friend…
Did you get all of that? It's a lot to jam into a couple of paragraphs. And to be honest, having it spread out into a novella wasn't much better. Which leads me to my main point with this book: it's very abrupt.
It's not just that it's fast-paced, or that there's a lot going on. I enjoy both of those things, and I did like that there was more than just the love story going on here. However, the execution of all of that felt rushed. From the moment Cora tumbles into Stig's home and his life, events start unfolding left, right, and center. It was like skiing down an icy hill with no brakes. Rather than feeling intense, it felt more hectic, frantic. Stig rushes to isolate himself from Cora, and in the first chapter we have a shared erotic dream between the two. There's not enough time to establish tension between them before it's already being satisfied--the reader is told of their shared history and lust for one another, and then this is manifested through the dream sequence.
The manner in which Stig's nature is revealed to Cora also suffers for this pacing. Stig hints at being immortal but doesn't flat out tell her that he's a dragon; instead he leaves her with a trunk of his things and escapes to his basement cell, locking himself away from her. And while she resisted his Bluebeard-esque door the first night, this time she goes down there after poking through his trunk, and sees his dragon form.
And just like that, accepts it.
So, okay, Cora is a paranormal fan and truly cares about Stig, no matter his secrets. And that makes her a truly remarkable woman…until a set of circumstances hints that she might have caught his dragon-ness and she flees in fear.
(This also left me a bit unimpressed with Stig; considering how old he is, the fact that he hadn't anticipated this, or even warned her that such a thing was possible, was nearly inexcusable.)
The two actions don't align as those of the same person, and while she almost immediately turns around and goes back to Stig, the fact that she left at all, that she freaked out so completely when seeing him as a dragon barely bothered her at all, felt jarring and unnatural. It made me wonder if maybe the only reason she'd done that was because it was necessary, to split her and Stig up so that the plot could advance to climax.
The characters weren't overly complicated but were sweet with one another, and the hint at history and world-building the author revealed was intriguing. I'm not sure if I'll pick up any of the other books in the series; I think this is one of those cases where the author could have let herself make the story longer and gotten a much more pleasing result, but in the end I still enjoyed the book.
"Both families were in pain and hurting. Why not just let it go?"
Stig shrugged. "Why did the Hatfields and McCoys let the theft of a pig lead to the ugliest blood feud in the history of this country? It was a different time, Cora."