Name of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Name of the Dragon by Susanna KearsleyName of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on October 6, 2015
Pages: 322
Format: eARC
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This author has been on my radar for so long and I’ve wanted to read her books and just somehow never did. Finally, the perfect storm of opportunity with this re-release, blurb, setting, and mood made it possible. I got two delightful surprises nearly from the beginning.

First, I didn’t realize what this author’s writing style would be and soon discovered that I felt like I could have been reading one of several of my favorites. I had to chuckle when I saw in the description afterward that the author is even compared to other favorites of mine like Mary Stewart. Sometimes, comparisons are far off the mark for me, but in truth, this one would be an accurate assessment for me. Modern gothic suspense in the spirit of Daphne DuMaurier would fit it, too.

My second surprise was time period. I wasn’t expecting the holiday season, but I got Christmas in a small Welsh village near Pembroke. The tradition of decorating, caroling, Christmas services in the little country church, parties, shopping and presents were fun and as vibrant as the characters and story.

So no surprise that I found this, my first outing with the author, was a splendid read and I am definitely going back for more of her stuff.

This was an atmospheric romantic suspense with mild magical element to it with the emphasis not so much on romance as a tension that leads to romance. The story is a slow build and slow burn affair that gently works its way to the startling climax at the end. It was like watching an approaching storm that starts out as distant building clouds and pressure that slowly form and approach. You can see it and feel it coming, but it takes a while. The heroine tells the tale entirely and the reader never quite gets close to the other characters so there is always that suspicion that they may or may not be on the up and up. I enjoyed that sensation.

This was a modern story that began when Lyn Ravenshaw, literary agent, is coerced into a Christmas holiday in the Welsh countryside to act as wingman and distraction for her prize author. Whatever Bridget wants and all that. Lyn sees Bridget clearly and doesn’t mind being used since it gets her invited into the home of an author she respects and the chance to meet a reclusive playwright whose way with words enchanted her. Bridget has author James Swift dangling after her, but it is untouchable and withdrawn Gareth she wants. Lyn can’t see the appeal in the insufferable Gareth, but finds it all rather entertaining at first to watch Bridget and the men buzzing around her.

Castle Farm is a lovely old quirky place and the village is typical of most, but Lyn senses underlying tension between the people of Castle Farm and then there are her own nightmarish dreams that have taken on new aspects. Uneasiness becomes outright concern when events of the distant past start to parallel events of the present. Is the young widow next door crazy with her talk of dragons and Merlin or is something much more concrete and sinister going on? Will the encounter with these people break Lyn who has suffered guilt and grief or will it be her road to healing?

Now, I did enjoy this book and definitely want more from the author. I loved the atmosphere and over all mastery of storytelling I had in this book. I did get the sense that the author could have made it even better which I know conflicts with what I just said. The difference between good and great, if you will.

The ties to the dream world were confusing and a muddle that never quite gets fully explained especially since there are ties to Merlin and Arthur legends and later Owen who led the Welsh rebellion and still later with early Tudor ties. It was all mashed together and distracting.

I also felt that the suspense element could have been teased out better. The waiting and watching were superb, but I felt there were missed opportunities for the villains to be more hands on and stir things up more by being more present than they were.

The drawing of the characters and then weaving them into the plot was really good. Even without the mystical dreams and the suspense, just reading about the people was extremely diverting. Bridget was a scene stealer. She cracked me up. She is so unapologetic and willful, but also possesses compassion. James is her counterpart in ways though he is more cerebral and less intuitive. Christopher is a modern rogue. Owen was salt of the earth. Elen is waifish and ethereal.

And then there are Gareth and Lyn. He is a craggy man with an old soul who is hard to know and not one that invites closeness and warmth. Lyn is the outsider and looks on, cold and lonely as the others move around her. Her grief and guilt has insulated her against engaging with folk and I loved seeing that change when the village of Angle, Castle Farm, and Gareth start to batter away at her walls. I wanted a bit more in the end, but things were left in a good happy for now spot.

All in all, I would dive into this author’s books just to get more of the atmosphere and tension, let alone the compelling characters. I would recommend this to folk who enjoy the more classical style romantic suspense.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

The author offers some extra notes and on location pictures at her website so thought I’d share the link for those who might be interested: http://susannakearsley.com/dragon.html

Romance Roundabout #338 RS

New to Me #165 author

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • This all sounds very good to me ! Celtic legends, Wales, the characters, it’s very attractive, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • My pleasure! I loved those aspects the most.

  • Sounds like a deep read! I’m more into the lighthearted stuff, but most people like books like this one.

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    • I wouldn’t call it deep so much as slower developing. But yes, it does feel like the old-style romantic suspense of several decades ago.

  • Debbie Haupt

    Ok Sophia this is a new to me author too but wow every thing you’ve described, and very lovely at that, is what rings my romance bells. This is definitely going on my list. Thanks!!!

    • Woots! I love it when I get the chance to review a book that grabs someone’s attention, too.

  • I am glad you read this Sophia. I downloaded a bunch of her books two Christmases ago when they were on sale and like you have been meaning to try her. This title sounds particularly good.

    • Yes, it was way past time. I thought about reading one of hers last year when Sourcebooks did a re-release and I just couldn’t fit it in. I’ve got my eye on a couple of her backlisted books. Hope you enjoy the ones you snagged.

  • oh this author has been in my sights for quite a while and you are so tempting me to try this one. I love seeing tension build into a romance. Its always fun to find a great storyteller right? Glad you enjoyed it so much.

    • Glad I’m not the only one that still needed to read her stuff. Yes, she knows how to build things in a slow burn, Renee. This one is old-school and not like our usual fare of contemporary romances. I like both so it was good to find someone that still writes in that style.

  • ugh Sophia…What are you doing to my TBR pile 🙁 I love when there is tension that leads to romance, it makes for a fun read and some magical elements? sigh

    • Poor Lily! It’s a gift. Yes, that tension was good stuff and a nice change up after several instaloves I’ve read recently.

  • I agree with Lily girl! You always have these awesome books that never fail to make us want to devour them right then and there. ♡♡ I love this book and most of it stems from the fact that it is a holiday read. I mean, who wouldn’t love it especially since it’s all about Christmas?? *falls in love*

    • Ahhhh, you’re a peach, Keionda. I eat up compliments like chocolate, thank you. The Christmas setting was an utter surprise. I thought it would barely be there and focus on the romance or suspense, but it was a huge element in the story and I loved it.

  • This had me curious, I’m still on the fence about it though. On one hand, it sounds rich, my concern is that it might be too heavy for me? I’m in the mood where I just want to be entertained 😀

    • Oooh, yeah, not sure how to further describe it to give you a better picture. It’s not deep and philosophical so much and is less focused on the romance and more on the characters and the connection to the group of characters. Everything is slow burn and winds thing tight slowly. Not sure if that helps you either. 🙂

  • I do like her style, so I’d read it

    • I thought the old style Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney stuff was gone, but it looks like a new generation has take up that style of Rom Suspense. So glad!

  • I have a few of those authors to where I plan to read their books, but for some reason never seem to get around to actually buying/ reading them. I love slow burn romances and the tension before the actual romance. It’s great when an author can write that slow burn tension well. The atmoshphere sounds really well done too. That’s a shame the dream world parts get a bit confusing though. Great Review!

    • Yes, I want to read so many and it really is that there are just so many and I can’t get to them all. Glad I finally got the chance. Definitely a nice tension.
      Yes, that dream world was confusing, but maybe that is just me. Others might figure it out. Fortunately, it wasn’t the largest part of the book.