Saturday, April 2, 2016

Stealing Dragon's Heart by Susan Laine

Title: Stealing Dragon’s Heart
Author: Susan Laine
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Genre: fantasy
Length: 81k, 240 pages
Formats mobi, epub, pdf, print

Notorious master thief Finn Grayson is hired to break into a high-class skyscraper in New Shanghai and steal a priceless artifact known as the Shard. But someone’s gotten to the Shard first—and the penthouse suite turns out to be a dragon’s lair.

Cameron Feilong, Guardian of the Earth Shard, is ancient enough to realize that he and his unbidden guest are being used like puppets on a string. Forming a shaky alliance is the only way for them to survive and to stop their ruthless foes.

Unfortunately, Finn and Cam seem to be forever one step behind. To learn more about their clandestine enemy, they travel together from walled Asian cities, barren tundras, and underwater temples to secret paranormal clubs and legendary elvish cities rising high in the trees or buried deep under glaciers. Finn and Cam must learn to trust each other before it’s too late, for bringing together the five Elemental Shards will spell the end of the world.

This book takes place in a fantasy Earth where the veil between the mythical world and the world as we know it has been ripped, and the two different dimensions have some serious adjusting to do. Of course it isn’t going to be easy. Neither side is pleased with the combination, and there’s all sorts of reasons for friction.

This book was somewhat problematic for me, because while I adored the world and the situations, and the entire plot to retake the Shards and prevent what could be catastrophe, the romance wasn’t on the same level. The adventure aspect is wonderful, where our only POV character, Finn, isn’t considered the equals of the mythical beings, definitely doesn’t have the same information to work with, and still manages to show them up here and there and be absolutely integral to the solutions to their various setbacks. He’s in over his head, and sometimes Cameron remembers to tell him what he needs to know. Sometimes he doesn’t.

The sections where they’re engaged against the enemy drew me along, until a moment of inappropriate sexual desire pops up. Finn pops a boner at times where his attention ought to be on the danger rather than Cameron’s butt. It didn’t really work as sexual tension, and in fact, made the romance aspect of the story feel like an intrusion on the epic fantasy going on around it.

I’m afraid the romance didn’t work for me, until the last part of the book, where the danger from the Shards has been resolved. This was unusual and delightful: Finn had a way to demonstrate how he complemented Cameron intellectually and physically. There were few sex scenes to the book, and the major scene around the 50% mark raised my eyebrows, for a previously undisclosed sexual quirk (Finn’s) that I had issues with, and for the extraordinary amount of complex conversation while they were coupled. If you can discuss matters that complicated in huge paragraphs of speech with long words while boinking, someone’s doing something wrong. The information was necessary to the plot, which made skimming an unsexy sex scene impossible. The more relaxed scene at the end worked far better.

I ended the book pleased for the lovers, impressed by the world-building and the degree of knowledge it took to make an ancient Chinese dragon and this particular human thief real and rounded. The quest was fantastic, the resolution satisfying. I could hope this author works on integrating romance into the narrative and foreshadowing certain elements that feel far too convenient if brought up at the moment of need, but I enjoyed this book. There are more Lifting the Veil stories of this troubled time, so Mount TBR just got a little higher. 3.75 marbles

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