This was a re-read for me. I read the original book a few years back and decided to experience it in audio this time around.
Any story with dragons makes me perk up and take notice so I was eager to dive in. This is an interesting blend of forced marriage, suspense, magic, and young adult elements. I enjoy the dragon world that the author created.
The story opens with young Kai thinking she is on the point of being sacrificed to the dragon lord for the purpose of keeping her whole island safe. It was an arrangement made long ago in that the dragons would act as protectors in exchange for a human girl’s sacrifice ever so many years. But she is shocked to discover that instead of being eaten, she has been chosen to be a young dragon’s wife. Loss of everything she is used to and most especially loss of control over her life leaves her antagonistic, betrayed, bitter, and worst of all attracted, but wanting to deny it. Her dragon husband is kind in the face of her fury and truly does care for her and loves her as much as she wants to deny it. Kai can’t allow any true feelings to develop because she promised herself that never would she be like her mother who gave her heart and had it crushed. If only, she wasn’t coming to want and love Darien.
Darien is a water dragon and son of the Great Dragon Lord, Orion. He is a ‘touched’ dragon in that he possesses more magic and he is also responsible for the death of his mother in childbirth as a result. Darien’s guilt and the blame from others has left him a little broken and his magic makes him an oddity and others fear him. This is why when it is his turn to choose his bride, he is careful to watch and observe. He spends years observing Kai and knows she is the one. He is excited to finally be old enough to claim her. But what is the happiest day of his life, soon ends in sadness when she rejects him, wants nothing to do with him, and hates him. He knows that he needs to give her time and he does. But as the days and weeks stretch out, he starts to lose hope.
Meanwhile, Darien is aware of trouble brewing. His father is worried about some vague, unnamed treachery from one of the other dragon kingdoms. Darien is mystified as to why his father takes him into his confidence and even wishes him there when the leaders meet. Darien takes an attitude because it brings him away from Kai while he is trying to woo her and he knows he is behaving horribly in the face of his father finally recognizing him, but he can’t stop.
And then his whole world crashes down on him. Will Kai stay by his side or will she flee?
The story has much going on. Right about the time young Darien is only thinking about Kai other things are going on the greater world around him. His destiny has arrived. This is an interesting coming of age story. While it has strong YA elements particularly the way Kai and Darien go about their stormy courtship, there is a complex worldbuilding, family dynamics, and politic intrigue in play that give this story nice layers.
I was only meh about the romance probably because of my age and the romance was a young one even if it was a permanent marriage.
But the part that I loved was the strong dragon presence and seeing Darien come of age and come into his own. He starts out thinking his father hates him for being the reason his mother is dead, thinking his mother must have resented having to make the choice between his life and hers, and hating his own extra gifts. He is unsure and fearful. But then, Orion works to make Darien see things differently. Loved all that.
And the political intrigue going on with the dragons was fascinating. I like the set up for what is to come.
The story ends abruptly on a high note, but foreshadows more troubles. It’s a cliffie and leaves a lot more questions than answers. These are always hard for me and I have to think of it as the first installment in a larger, longer story.
The narration was well-done. It was my first encounter with Corey Snow. I thought he did alright with the various voices and kept my interest on the story. It was somewhat amusing when he did Kai’s voice because she is a young girl, but it wasn’t too bad. I would definitely listen to more books he has done.
In summary, this was a good beginning to a series. The romance is okay and I think younger folk would appreciate it more than me. The worldbuilding and intrigue were strong and engaging components as was the coming of age of Darien the hero. I can easily recommend this to any age YA audience because it is a sweet romance and there is no language and only one moderately violent scene.
Romance Roundabout #20 YA
Literary Pickers #20 tropical island
Mt. TBR # 12
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