Author: JB McDonald
Cover Artist: Skylar Sinclair
Publisher: Torquere Press
Length: 55 pages
Getting magically eaten by a dragon wasn't part of the plan. Really, there hadn't been much of a plan to begin with, but it had definitely involved more dragon slaying and less getting knocked unconscious. Even the unconsciousness wouldn't be so bad if it didn't push Ashe closer to death each time.
Katsu is worried sick at Ashe's descent. He's worried enough to find a dragon whisperer to help, despite the fact that he hates her. He hates her appearance, he hates her attitude, and he especially hates the way she's helping his lover when he couldn't. Despite this, he hopes she succeeds -- or soon Ashe won't be alive at all.
Katsu and Ashe are back, and the dragon hasn’t left. The story arc continues from the previous book, where magic activated a dragon egg Ashe had kept as a curiosity. The dragon that hatched from it bonded with him and feeds on his elven magic. He’s a tasty meal and harder to drain than a mere human, but the dragon is a hungry little beast. Katsu, the curmudgeonly human medic and Ashe’s new lover, doesn’t know what to do to free Ashe from what is basically a parasite, and now the dragon is feeding on others. To protect their friends and to find a way to save Ashe, the two set out to find a dragon scholar.
The dragon part of the story arc follows on directly from the previous book; the dragon was a danger then and a bigger menace now. Their searches bring them to Tabitha, whose knowledge and help they need just to keep Ashe alive while he learns how to cope with a dragon that’s permanently attached to him. Tabitha has an interesting affinity to the dragons and some parallel skills; everyone around her save Katsu is smitten with her, and even Ashe is submitting his will to her in some alarming ways.
The relationship between the men is blooming. With worry, caretaking, and a little bit of panic to drive them, Katsu gets to show his grumpy version of love, finding the person with answers, and then making sure she doesn’t get to define all the questions too. Perhaps Tabitha understands dragons, but Katsu understands Ashe. Ashe is kind of passive here, but given his near-death and reliance on others just to find a way to cope, he’s not doing too badly. He needs Katsu’s clearer thinking to guide him. They go from mere sex partners to lovers over the course of these stories, and it’s not quite solidified yet.
Their relationship with the dragon undergoes some changes. “Look how cute” quickly turned to “dangerous and hateful beast” but once Ashe learns some skills to conserve his magic, there is almost fondness, and even some appreciation for it.
My one annoyance with this series is that it seems to be more of a serial novel, since the parts are standing less alone as they come out. However, these are big meaty chunks of story with real development in each, so I’m probably going to just make a grouchy Katsu-face and grab the next one when it’s out.4 marbles