Thursday, May 17, 2012

REVIEW: "Dragon Actually" by G.A. Aiken


Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken
(Dragon Kin #1)

Paranormal Romance--Shapeshifters
Zebra--2004
Paperback, 336 pages

Rating: 4 Stars




SUMMARY

It's not always easy being a female warrior with a nickname like Annwyl the Bloody. Men tend to either cower in fear-a lot-or else salute. It's true that Annwyl has a knack for decapitating legions of her ruthless brother's soldiers without pausing for breath. But just once it would be nice to be able to really talk to a man, the way she can talk to Fearghus the Destroyer.

Too bad that Fearghus is a dragon, of the large, scaly, and deadly type. With him, Annwyl feels safe-a far cry from the feelings aroused by the hard-bodied, arrogant knight Fearghus has arranged to help train her for battle. With her days spent fighting a man who fills her with fierce, heady desire, and her nights spent in the company of a magical creature who could smite a village just by exhaling, Annwyl is sure life couldn't get any stranger. She's wrong. And just wait until you meet the rest of the family?

MY THOUGHTS

The Dragon Kin series is one that I have been recommended hundreds of times over the past few years.  And, for some reason or another, I avoided starting it.  Then I found myself going through a bit of a reading slump so I picked this book at random from my overflowing TBR shelf.  And I am so thankful I did!  Dragon Actually is a unique book in the overflowing paranormal romance genre with its fearsome dragon shifters, medieval setting, kickass heroine, and a dry sense of humor.

The heroine of this book is a warrior princess known as Annwyl the Bloody.  How awesome is that?!  She is a strong fighter who is determined to defeat her evil brother and save his unfortunate underlings.  While many paranormal heroines are considered fighters, Annwyl is probably one of the most powerful and she doesn't even have superpowers.  In terms of personality, she is extremely admirable with her self-reliance, sense of humor, and even a hint of vulnerability that keeps her down to earth. 

Her counterpart is Fearghus the Destroyer, a reclusive dragon shifter, who is impressed with Annwyl's determination and comes to her aid when she is injured in battle.  Fearghus first appears in his dragon form to Annwyl and does not reveal his shapeshifting abilities for quite awhile.  Instead he tends to her wounds and slowly falls in love with her through their interactions.  As a hero, Fearghus is a blast to read.  He is tough and extremely violent, but still shows a hint of loneliness that grabbed my heart.  He is extremely protective of those he cares about and shows readers that his biggest desire is to make Annwyl happy regardless of the price to himself. 

As a couple, Annwyl and Fearghus are extremely entertaining.  They have hilarious and poignant conversations while Annwyl is healing and Fearghus remains in his dragon form.  Then they have some crazy, lusty moments when Fearghus, as a human, strives to teach Annwyl some much needed fighting techniques.  The juxaposition of Annwyl's feelings for Fearghus the dragon and her mysterious, and handsome, trainer is intriguing and kept me turning pages to get to the big reveal.  Overall, their relationship is extremely sexy yet full of sweet, tender moments.

A big part of the book is also the introduction of Fearghus's family who are the backbone of the Dragon Kin series.  Each of the family members are unique and bring something fun to the plot.  I loved their funny and relatable dynamics with the sibling squabbles and the parental advice.  They really showed they were a true family despite the whole dragon thing.  I look forward to getting deeper into these characters' lives and their future romances.

I should also warn any potential readers that there is a significant amount of action and violence in this book.  This is a medieval setting so there is a lot of sword slicing and limb removal.  Aiken does not shy away from the gory details though she does provide a nice balance with the ever-present humor. 

Therefore, I recommend this book to any reader who loves spicy romance, tons of action, and a heavy does of bawdy jokes.  I found it highly entertaining and look forward to reading more of Aiken's work.  As a side note, readers of Dragon Actually are also given a novella, Chains and Flames, at the end that shows Fearghus's parents love story.  I absolutely adored this little story and it gave me some fabulous insight into how this intriguing family got started.

SERIES INFORMATION

The Dragon Kin
1. Dragon Actually
2. About a Dragon
3. What a Dragon Should Know
4. Last Dragon Standing
4.5. Dragon on Top
5. The Dragon Who Loved Me
6. How to Drive a Dragon Crazy (To Be Released 2012)
BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY

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