by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
“Deeply satisfying, delightfully swoon-inducing.”—Publishers Weekly on Kerrelyn Sparks’s Love at Stake series
Gwennore is an Elf able to track down the cause of a certain illness and heal it—a valuable asset to her people. But when she is thrust into the realm of the dragons, she discovers a haunted place of power, passion, and magic—one that is plagued by an ancient curse. When she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, Gwen knows she’s entered a whole new world of trouble. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon. So why does making a deal with the devil feel so good?
Silas has no way of saving the royal family he’s served for years. But when a beautiful, innocent elf comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to desire in a way he’s never felt before. But how can he trust a sworn enemy. . .and how can he live without her, in Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks.
This is one of those silly, fluffy paranormal/fantasy romances. We’ve got a misunderstood virgin heroine, a cinnamon-rolly General, a 500-year-old curse, insta-love, and dragons.I used to devour these like candy, but it’s not quite my thing any longer. This is the third in the Embraced series, and while each story could be read as a standalone, I think it’d work better if you read the series in order.
First off, I did enjoy the book. There are aspects of it that are quite fun, from the secondary characters like Annika and Dimitri – and Brody, I love Brody!, to the dating rules, to the trolls. There are other parts, however, that made the book a bit of a chore to get through, and I finished feeling rather unsatisfied.
To start off with, the plot is very predictable. If you’ve read the previous books in the series, you know exactly what’s going to happen, who the bad guy is, etc. I enjoyed the beginning – Luciana’s young daughter is kidnapped by a dragon, and Gwennore manages to get herself caught as well and taken to Norveshka, where, oh look, there’s something seriously wrong with this king and queen, too. Gwennore’s Embraced ability lets her be a sort of walking medical diagnostic kit – by touching someone in certain places, she can tell if they’re sick or injured. She immediately realizes that the queen who everyone believes is suffering from a curse is actually being poisoned. Of course, Silas, the general who comes to her rescue when the queen tries to have her thrown in the dungeons, believes her, and asks her to stay and solve the mystery of a curse that’s been plaguing the country for 500 years. And, of course!, that’s not the only reason he wants her to stay – they’re already halfway to insta-love after their first meeting.
“I will always love you, Gwennore, whether we’re flooded with rain or shining as brilliant as the stars.
She smiled. ‘That’s lovely. Thank you.’
My love for you will burn like an eternal flame deep in my chest.
She stifled a laugh. That sounded like a bad case of heartburn.
I heard that. A puff of smoke shot from his nostrils as he huffed. You think it’s easy to confess how much I love you? You give it a try.”
Unfortunately, I found the romance rather lacking as well. I loved the flirting between Gwennore and Silas – including the silly dating rules. I think Silas and Gwennore were at their best during these interactions, both as a couple and separately. But, Gwennore kept blowing hot and cold and honestly I half-wished Silas would throw up his hands and walk away. Literally, she slammed doors in his face multiple times rather than, I don’t know, actually dealing with her emotions or having an actual conversation with him. I’m not a fan of the “I’m so innocent that I can’t deal with my LUST so instead I must treat you like crap” trope, and sadly this strayed into that territory more than once. It just doesn’t feel like romance to me, and it was frustrating that all the work for the relationship fell squarely on Silas’ shoulders. Whenever one person in a relationship is doing all the work (and I don’t care what their gender is), and the other person is continuously rejecting them in a hurtful way, that’s not very romantic, in my eyes. Eventually, Gwennore gives in, and the relationship seemed to take a better turn from there, but since that happens at the end of the book, there’s not much time to enjoy it, since most of the chemistry between earlier in the book was ruined for me by Gwennore’s childish actions.
Even the internal conflict of Gwennore learning to love herself – despite everyone else hating her because she looks like an elf – fell flat for me. She seemed to take two steps forward and one step back, and most of the time it seemed like Silas (or someone else) was standing up for her in lieu of her doing it for herself. I accepted that a couple of nobles from Luciana’s kingdom would be snots to her, but to have pretty much the entire castle in Norveshka against her after just a few hours? It was a bit over the top, and seemed to happen just to give her an excuse to continue treating Silas like crap (“I like him, but if we’re together, everyone will hate him, too!”) which makes no sense because the way they explained Gwennore’s continued presence in the castle is that she and Silas are having an affair, so whatever “tarnish” would’ve happened to his reputation would already be there!
Over all, while I’ve enjoyed reading the series, overall, I think this is the weakest so far, and I’m not sure I’ll be picking up the next one. If you love fluffy paranormals and dragon shifters, though, you will probably enjoy this book!