Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks
Book Three of The Embraced series
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
From the brilliant imagination of Kerrelyn Sparks comes a bold new fantasy romance series in which passion and magic collide. Behold the Embraced…
Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain—save the country from its cursed illness, and he will return the kidnapped girl. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon, but never did making a deal with the devil feel so good…
Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart?
What I Liked:
This is one of those cases in which I'm like, I enjoyed this book buuuuuuuut... I also didn't really care for it. It was an okay read and not terrible but definitely not a new favorite or anything like that. I'm sure others will find this a great addition to the series. But I had a hard time really caring about the female protagonist, Gwenmore, and that can kill enjoyment pretty quickly.
But I didn't totally dislike her. Gwenmore is one of the five adopted sisters raised in a convent on a lonely island, and she is the third to leave and face her destiny. One afternoon when she is playing with her little niece, she is captured by a dragon - only to be rescued by another dragon. The dragon takes her to the royal family of Norveshka, where she is taken in by Silas Dravenko, general of the royal army. When he realizes that she is a healer, he asks for her help in getting rid of a curse that has stricken his country for generations. Gwenmore never intended to stay in Norveshka, but how can she leave when she has fallen in love with the charming, smoldering general?
Overall I thought Gwenmore was an okay protagonist, though she really got on my nerves at times (see below). I liked that she began to trust in herself as the story went on - and she began to trust Silas (something she doesn't do easily). It was good to see her grow into her gift and herself. She is an innocent girl, with a great deal of power.
I loooooooooved Silas. He is flirtatious and roguish, with a very strong sense of honor and selflessness. He never hesitates to save Gwenmore or anyone else, and always puts everyone else first. He may seem confident and full of swagger, but deep inside, he is lonely. I loved his charming self, but I also loved his more vulnerable self. He is persistent but respectful of boundaries. Silas is a good guy, and for the life of me, I wanted to strangle Gwenmore for being so poor to him sometimes.
I love all things dragons, and there is a nice amount of dragons in this story. I was curious to see how the author would work them in, and I was very happy about how she did it. Like you expect it, but it's still nice to see how it is worked in. The kingdom of Norveshka has a long and heartbreaking history, very much centered around its dragons. All of which is revealed in this book!
I adore Silas's officers, the male secondary characters! Dimitri and Aleksi are hilarious - honestly, the brotherhood in this book is awesome. They have such a great camaraderie, something I always like to see among males in any type of novel. I hope all of them get their own happily ever after!
The conflict of this book centers mostly around getting rid of the curse that plagues Norveshka - something sinister has been at work for centuries. Gwenmore is an extraordinary healer (she has interesting elvish gifts!), and she is confident that she can find the source of the curse. But there is a familiar evil standing in the way.
The other part of the story is the romance, which was sweet and frustrating. I'll talk about the "frustrating" part in the next section. But for the most part, it was a sweet and sometimes spicy romance. I think I wanted more from the romance, but I also appreciated the progression of the romance and the tension. Mostly sparked by Silas, which was part of my frustration.
Theoretically I liked this book, but I finished it feeling rather dissatisfied, like something was missing. Or maybe I just wasn't that into it, like I was the other books. This wasn't a bad book, and I'm sure others will love it.
What I Did Not Like:
I got so fed up with Gwenmore around halfway through the book. You know the phrase "the lady doth protest too much"? Yeah. Gwenmore was seriously annoying. She rejected Silas over and over, despite the fact that internally she was telling herself to go for it, and physically she really wanted to in addition to mentally/emotionally, but she kept shutting doors in his face (literally) or running away (literally). This was not cute. This was not part of a merry chase. This was absolutely annoying, and also heartbreaking to see (on Silas's end).
You know what would have redeemed this crap? Silas, walking away from Gwenmore (rather than being the persistent guy that he is). And Gwenmore having to chase after him. That would have made her realize that a good man wanted her and he had no bad intentions when it came to her - and she was in the wrong by turning him down (knowing that she wanted to be with him, physically and emotionally). Gwenmore is kind of an idiot? I really wanted the ending of the book to have Silas leaving her after she rejects him one more time, and Gwenmore realizing that she's a complete dumba** and runs to him.
Does this happen? No. Of course not. Because Silas keeps trying to win her over - which is cool of him, but seriously? I don't love this. It's romantic but also kind of icky - men shouldn't be putting in all of the effort. The woman should be too (in this case we're dealing with a male/female couple), and Gwenmore didn't do any of this. She didn't fight for the relationship, she put no effort into it. Instead, it was all "omg Gwenmore is hot, I want her so much, I want to kiss her, I'm not going to stop trying to get her to admit she wants me, even though she keeps rejecting me", and then Gwenmore keeps rejecting him, until finally her hormones take over her common sense. Seriously? This is stupid. Gwenmore needed to put in some actual effort into the chemistry, and eventually the relationship. The chase wasn't fun because Gwenmore was so annoying with her constant rejections. She saw each one hurt his feelings and THAT made her sad, but she never did anything about it.
Authors. Do better. Let the girl chase. Get rid of this notion that a man should be the one doing all of the chasing. I like it sometimes, it works with some books, but really, let's not keep this up all the time. (I'm referring to M/F couples specifically, as is the case with this book.)
Would I Recommend It:
I recommend the series in general - the first two books are excellent. This one was okay for me but not super great, but I suppose I'd still recommend it to those who have read the previous books in the series. If you've read none of the series, definitely do not start with this one. Start with book one and go in order, even though they are standalone companion novels. The series will make more sense that way, and also I personally think this third book is the weakest of the three. But in general, this fantasy romance series is really good. The romances are sweet and passionate, the men are sweet, charming alphas, and the women are strong, innocent women. I like these match-ups!
3 stars. I wish I'd liked this one more, especially since we're dealing with a dragon (mmm, fiery), and an elf (magical!). I was frustrated with Gwenmore and the romance. But I adored so many of the other characters, and the story in general was pretty good. I'm definitely going to be reading book four (and book five). I hope we'll see cameos of Silas and Gwenmore, as we saw a lot of Leo and Luciana (and heard about Rupert and Brigitta) in this book!
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