Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ARC Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

Series:     The Embraced #3
Pub. Date:March 27, 2018
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:435 pgs
Source:NetGalley

I'm a huge fan of fantasy romance, and there doesn't seem to be many traditionally published adult fantasy romances being published these days. So I'm always very excited when a new book comes out in this genre. This third book takes place about 3 years after the previous book, So I Married a Sorcerer

To recap for the series: In the fantastical realm of  Aerthlan, the Embraced are born on the night of the two moons eclipse. This special birth gives them special powers which, in the past, was seen as dangerous by the kings of the land. The Embraced were executed if found, so they must live in secret, and are sometimes sent to the Isle of Moon as infants to be raised in hiding. This is where we met our five heroines, girls who were raised in a convent on the Isle of Moon - Luciana, Brigitta, Gwennore, Sorcha, and Maeve. Having grown up together, these girls share a special bond and consider themselves sisters who will be together forever. Luciana and Brigitta met their fate, married and are each queens in their own right. As a result, things have been changing across Aerthlan and the Embraced are coming out of hiding.

The heroine of this third installment is Gwennore, our elfin embraced healer. Gwennore is very distinctly an elf with her white blonde hair, pointed ears, and lavender eyes. Unfortunately, elves do not have a good reputation (not that she has ever met another elf), and Gwennore experiences a lot of prejudice and scorn. I really felt bad for Gwennie. I hated how she was treated, and I got wrapped up in her emotions and longing. Once Gwen gets to Norveshka, we really start to see her come into her own. Her spirited side comes out when dealing with our hero, and for the first time Gwen is feeling needed and important. Given that Norveshka is still at war with the elves of Woodwyn, she still faces prejudice and wariness from those around her, but she is also making new friends and helping people.

Interestingly our hero is not another elf, but a dragon shifter! We met General Silas Dravenko in So I Married a Sorcerer, and I'm glad we got him as a hero in his own book. Due to plague and curses that abound in Norveshka, there are very few children and Silas is heir to the throne. When his queen begins deteriorating more rapidly, and the king is willing to do anything to appease her, Silas knows that he needs help to solve the kingdom's problems. I loved his personality and interaction with Gwen. While the issues they faced were serious, Silas still managed to be flirty and fun and honest when it came to his feelings for Gwen.

While the plague and curse were the main plot conflict for this story, we are still following the overarching series conflict dealing with the Chameleon. The plot conflict and series arc are fairly intertwined as we see the Chameleon take advantage of strife in each kingdom in his bid for power. I like that with each marriage and ensuing coronation, our sisters from the Isle of Moon are helping to unite the kingdoms of Aerthlan.

Sometimes this story felt superficial when I would have liked deeper character development or more emotional meat to the dialogue. But I still enjoyed the story and read it in one sitting. For a relatively long book, it was a quick read. The pacing was done well and the characters were engaging and kept me focused on the story.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, St. Martin's Press. 


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