by Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Karen Harbaugh, and Barbara Samuel
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant/Bernstein & Andrulli
Review by Carolyn Frank
NAL Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451220394
Date: 06 March, 2007 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dragons are romantic, so romances featuring dragons bring something more powerful to such tales. And although different cultures offer varying perspectives on exactly what a dragon looks like, eats, or even does, all agree that dragons have some unique powers and that dragons have wings. Some dragons can transform into humans, some dragons can mind speak, some dragons can do magic. Some dragons are wise, some dragons are wicked and some dragons just prefer the companionship of their own kind. In these stories of Dragon Lovers, one is the romantic male lead, one the female lead, and two are just the instigating reason for the couple to meet.
In "The Dragon and the Virgin Princess," written by Jo Beverly, the most recent Sacrificial Virgin Princess (SVP) at age nineteen is quite tired of the role. Her virgin blood is needed to appease the neighboring kingdom's dragon, who appears every 8 years for its tribute. Although the tribute normally is only a small cup of fresh blood taken during a formal ceremony, this time the dragon arrives accompanied by a man who is determined to marry her on the spot and take her away immediately. This SVP is a bit older than the norm and although thrust into a totally foreign environment, manages to overcome both her own prejudices and his preconceived notions, to enable a happy ever after for all. These dragons are of the extremely large, mind speaking, flying, scaly, typical western European variety, although the kingdoms are located in a nonexistent faintly medieval world.
Mary Jo Putney's "The Dragon and the Dark Knight" is told from the perspective of the knight, a roving, tournament-winning, young man who is growing tired of his current existence and would like to settle down. Unfortunately without sufficient funds he can't obtain sufficient land, and without an estate, he can not hope to attract a wife. With winter approaching and no particular place to go, he heads to Cornwall where rumor has it that killing a dragon will net an estate and possibly the daughter of the local man in charge. Once he saves a local maiden from brigands, he starts to learn that dragons might be on the side of the right. These dragons are of the turning-into-human, flying, fire breathing, scholarly, western variety, who follow the Celtic legacy of heading to isles far in the west when they are old and ready to leave their life.
"Anna and the King of Dragons," written by Karen Harbaugh, takes place in seventeenth century Japan. Anna is the 19 year old daughter of a traveling Dutch scientist and his wife, who have just died, leaving her alone and stranded in Japan. Although she has learned to speak Japanese, Anna is at a loss as to exactly what to do now. Rescued by a dragon after she falls into a deep pool, she overcomes her initial fright and sells him some of her father's books to raise enough money to book sea passage home to the Netherlands. Rescued by a handsome samurai from some local bandits on her trip back to the inn where she had been staying with her parents, Anna finds him a welcome escort in her local travels. When the captain of the ship on which she has booked passage home turns on her, Anna calls the dragon for help and learns something more about her handsome samurai. These dragons are of the turning-into-human, flying, scholarly, Oriental variety, who face rather different problems of blending into Japanese society.
"Dragon Feathers" by Barbara Samuel, takes place in modern Santa Fe. Penny, a young widow, has just moved to town in order to take a weaving course from a venerable teacher. She purchases a run-down small house in a very nice part of the old town and gets assistance from the weaving teacher's adult son, Joaquin, in fixing the house back up. In the process she finds a number of pink feathers, shaped like those of a peacock's fan. Some men in the open air market attack her because of the feathers, which makes no sense to her until Joaquin introduces her to the dragon living beneath her house. As the attacks continue, the dragon and Joaquin come to her rescue, and she comes to learn exactly why she has been invited to Santa Fe. These dragons are of the feathery, flying, fantastical variety, who face a highly uncertain future in our modern world.
By their nature all romances are fantasies, these particular romances just include a major fantasy being/creature at their center. If you are partial to dragons and you enjoy romances, then this set of stories will provide the right mix of diversion and pleasure.