Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Published by Zebra Books on Nov 25, 2014
The trouble with humans is that they're far too sensitive. Forget you put a woman in the local jail for a few months - and she takes it so personally! And yet she is the one trying to assassinate the queen. And now I'm trapped with Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight... gods! That endless name!
But what am I to do? I am Celyn the Charming with direct orders from my queen to protect this unforgiving female.
Even more shocking, this unforgiving female is completely unimpressed by me. How is that even possible? But I know what I want and, for the moment, I want her. And I'm sure that she, like all females, will learn to adore me. How could she not when I am just so damn charming?
Seventh in the Dragon Kin hysterically funny paranormal romance fantasy series and revolving around, well, the Dragon Kin, lol. The couple focus is on Elina and Celyn the Charming.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Zebra in exchange for an honest review.
Oh, god, I love this series. If you ever need a good laugh, a retreat away from your own world and into one that will leave you rolling on the floor even as it pokes fun at society’s views on gender roles, role reversal, on family dynamics and sibling rivalry, playing on male stereotypes, then you need Light My Fire. Actually, you need the whole series…seriously…
It’s a story about bigotry and using religion as an excuse for power. In our current phase of history, the most obvious “idiots” are the Islamic terrorists (I’m sure they consider themselves “freedom fighters”) who see “Abominations” in ordinary people, just as the bad guys in Light My Fire see children as “Abominations”. Well, I suppose they have a bit of a point considering what The Five do when their mother is threatened. Mmmm, and the priests in Light My Fire treat women the same way most primitive cultures do.
The true focus is the Abominations and the Defiled Ones, the perverse creatures who dare to lay with dragons like “unholy whores”. Hmmm, I’m gonna side with the Defiled Ones. At least they’re honest and treat everyone with more thought and care than the religious bigots. Then there are Aiken’s pointed remarks about Annwyl, that she doesn’t hide anything about herself. Her temper, her choices, and who she loves. A nice wake-up whack-upside-the-head to the rest of us to own our choices, our wants.
It’s also fear. The fear of the unknown. What powers will these dragon-human children wield. I think Celyn makes an excellent point as he wonders how or why anyone could hate “someone for being brought into this world without any say in the matter”.
Who does this remind you of?
“…I enjoy looking down on others and judging them for things that are none of my concern.”
It’s also setting us up for the next great conflict: the upcoming battle against the followers of Chramnesind the Blind God first introduced in Dragon Who Loved Me, 5.
I enjoyed the dialect that Aiken gave Elina. There was something very Russian about it, probably helped along by the names, oy.
That start is so unexpected. So completely not what I would have thought, and yet…so very Aiken, rofl. “And the dragon walked on with Elina securely tucked … humming” simply kept me rolling in laughter. Ya just don’t think of a bunch of dragons hangin’ out, making bets on how long someone will last. It’s such a great contrast of fearsome, man-eating, horrible beasts kickin’ back, having a beer, er, an ale, stoking their curiosity, laughing hysterically over the chutzpah of puny humans.
Too considerate of Her Majesty to adjust her diet simply because her children are marrying some of the food. Oh, lordy, I do love how Aiken manages to tweak everyone’s nose. Brastias calling Briec and Gwenvael brothers, *snicker*. It’s a family that loves together; plays together; and mostly, fights, battles, harasses, and taunts together. God, it’s too funny what a rude mean bunch they are. Mean, nasty, and all in fun. Seriously. Ya gotta read it to understand that one…*shakes her head, laughing again*…
It has been awhile since I last read one of the Dragon Kin books, and I don’t remember Rhiannon being quite this laid back. I like this version. Aiken is cracking me up with Celyn’s words, that he knows he entertains the queen with his approach to life.
Okay, Elina does get annoying with her constant harping on how badly she has failed her tribe. Please, she knows the truth behind the task. She knows it was a fake-out.
“‘…I failed task. I failed tribe. Do your worst to me.’
‘Lady Misery, get off the pyre… We need the wood.'”
Seems that quite some time has passed since How to Drive a Dragon Crazy, 6, as Dagmar has been telling Annwyl for years “that, with some practice, you can stop killing people who simply annoy you. … give it that royal tutor try…”
Oh, god, I want more of the Destruction-ho gang!! I could, however, do with less of Gwenvael and his self-admiration. It seems excessive in this story.
As Fearghus knows, his Annwyl is always underneath that polite exterior Dagmar has been hammering into place, but I do think it’s been a worthwhile effort, as Annwyl does take time to consider when she encounters Abertha. Nice bit of tension in that meeting and fun to “watch” Annwyl’s wheels turning as she works out the truth. A good lesson there for all of us.
Hey, you know how it is when you live a really, really long time. It’s easy to forget things. People. Seems Annwyl’s punishment policies have some nice side benefits at the jail, lol. I did see that one coming, but it’s always nice to get it confirmed.
I’m with Celyn…
“I plan to fight death all the way, dragging those trying to kill me along for the ride.”
Oh, boy, while the Outerplains women’s attitude towards men is funny, and I absolutely adore Elina’s fearlessness, I am furious over how they treat Elina. Aiken/Annwyl makes an excellent point about going with your strengths. I’m sorry, but the Outerplains women are barbarians, animals. So Elina can see the different perspectives on an issue? It’s a strength.
Oh, lordy, rofl, that “debate” about how much work Briec put into gaining his hoard…*gotta run, gotta get to the bathroom*…
Oh, YES! I love Uncle Addolgar’s little speech about owning it. About accepting who and what you are. Can you imagine how much happier we’d all be if we did that?
Okay, something that keeps bothering me. Why does Elina bother going through Glebovicha? Why doesn’t she go directly to Anne Atli? What’s with that barrier that’s preventing Celyn from flying away? What’s the power of the Daughters of the Steppes that Brigida wants Annwyl to use?
Talan’s comments about Celyn’s ability to see future implications are scaring me as are Brigida’s musings and actions. Scary times ahead! That was also an interesting segue on the difference between pity and empathy. It’s always bugged me that people get annoyed when I say I’m sorry in response to something bad that happened to them. They all think I’m feeling guilty about whatever it is, that I somehow think I caused it. I’m not. I don’t. I’m feeling that squishy thing, empathy. And I’ve never sat down long enough to think of that difference until Aiken laid it out for me.
Ah, damn, you know, there are so many good messages in here that people could (should *grin*) take to heart. This time it’s Dagmar’s heart-to-heart with The Five. That different is good. It’s a repetition of the speech about being true to yourself. Never giving up or in. Gaius has some encouraging words for Elina. He’s a sweetie in this.
That tower! Oh, crack me up. Annwyl is too right about what people have been asking her! Talk about prejudice! It’s what everyone is planning for, what Dagmar has been slowing down, and what Annwyl, in her perversity, consciously chooses to ignore..
Yeah, Elina is irritating in some ways, but the woman at the core of her…? I’d want her standing by my side.
The children are worried that Mom and Dad don’t love them as much, want them to go away. Dagmar doesn’t want Var going a few miles down the road. The Five worry that they’ll be next. Arlais wants to go with Keita and Ragnar and then frets because Dagmar is immediately cool with that.
It’s a legal kill, sending this impossible, unwanted daughter off to kill the White Dragon Queen. And Elina knows this. And goes anyway. She will never bring dishonor to her people!
Okay, she will never again bring dishonor to her people…
Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains is such a disappointment to her mother. Kachka is Elina’s sister, the only one who actually likes her.
Captain Celyn the Charming, a.k.a., the Dolt, is one of the Cadwaladr Clan, a black dragon, and adores his job as one of Her Majesty’s Personal Guards. No muck for him! His primary fault? He asks too many questions.
Branwen the Awful is a Black Cadwaladr Dragon and Celyn’s sister. She’s also Izzy’s best friend. Bram the Merciful is their father, and he’s just the sweetest dragon with a very easygoing personality — he’s not Rhiannon’s Royal Peacemaker for nothin’. Very un-Cadwaladr-like, lol. General Ghleanna the Decimator is their mother (Bram’s and her story is in Supernatural: “Dragon on Top”, 0.4). Fal is an older brother, sent to the salt mines in the Desert Lands (Last Dragon Standing, 4).
Garbhán Isle is…
…ruled over by Queen Annwyl the Bloody, a human warrior who no longer ages as a human, married to Fearghus the Destroyer, a black dragon and the heir to Rhiannon the White’s throne. Talan and Talwyn are their twin children who left home the same time as the overly sensitive Princess Rhianwen in How to Drive a Dragon Crazy, 6, seeking refuges that would help them learn to deal with their “Abominable” powers. The diplomatic Prince Talan is with the Brotherhood of the Far Mountains while the always-angry, tetchy Princess Talwyn is training with the Kyvich warrior witches in the Ice Lands.
General Brastias (he’s mated to Morfyd the White, Rhiannon and Bercelak’s eldest daughter who is also a healer and Alwynn’s Battle Mage) is Annwyl’s general commander. Briec the Mighty, a silver, is another of Rhiannon and Bercelak’s children and mated to Talaith, a Nolwenn witch. Talaith’s daughter, Iseabail “Izzy” the Dangerous, is mated to Éibhear the Contemptible, a Mì-runach blue dragon and Queen Rhiannon’s youngest son. The vicious Keita the Viper, the Protector of the Throne, and the family poisoner is still with Ragnar, the Dragonlord Chief of the Northland Dragons, and teaching Arlais some poisonous tricks. Seems Keita and Ragnar only have boys. Meinhard is Ragnar’s cousin.
Dagmar Reinholdt, Beast of the Northlands, is Annwyl’s battle lord and steward. A very bright woman who keeps trying to rein in Annwyl. She’s mated to Gwenvael the Handsome, a gold with a narcissistic personality and equally cunning mind who can’t resist stirring up trouble. His relationship with his daughters will crack you up! Arlais is their oldest daughter — and I think Dagmar and Gwenvael are both a little afraid of her! Unnvar, a.k.a., Var, is their eldest and only son — the Dragon-Human Prince of the House of Gwalchmai fab Gwyar; he’s a very bright lad, too bright for his years, and he craves peace. There is gang of five younger sisters, The Five, the oldest of whom is Seva, and they see everything.
“And perhaps you should keep in mind that I am the one woman not afraid to send your insolent ass to a nunnery.”
Dagmar’s nephew Fredrik was thought to be the family idiot and was the victim of the Reinholdt family practice of visit-and-run (How to Drive a Dragon Crazy, 6). He’s also asked Bercelak for training! Adda is Dagmar’s current battle dog. Mabsant has been Dagmar’s assistant for eight years.
“‘You ask too many questions,’ the queen accused Dagmar.
‘No. I’m certain I ask just the right amount.'”
Jenna is one of the castle staff.
Devenallt Mountain is…
…deep in the heart of Southland territory — weak-kneed Imperialists that they are — the heart of Southland Dragon territory over which the teasing Queen Rhiannon the White of the House of Gwalchmai fab Gwyar rules. Lord Bercelak the Great is her fearsome and very protective spouse. Queen Adienna was Rhiannon’s mother.
Part of Rhiannon’s court
Elder Clesek. Aberthol is one of Rhiannon’s guards. Another soldier who was once in Izzy’s platoon. A squadron of dragons that Brannie had once called comrades. Elders Vass, Loran, and Reganach visit Bram.
Ailean the Wicked was the royals’ grandfather; Brigida blames him for it all (Everlasting Bad Boys: “Can’t Get Enough”, 0.5). Seems he too was always asking questions.
Gaius Lucius Domitus from Dragon Who Loved Me, 5, is an Iron dragon still battling for that Iron dragon throne. Agrippina is the twin sister of whom he is very protective. Marcellus is one of her personal guards.
The Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains are…
…also known as the Daughters of the Steppes amongst their own people and as the Terrors of the Outerplains by others. Glebovicha is the leader of the tribe and one of those under Anne Atli’s banner. Ivanova is Elina’s cousin and Glebovicha’s favorite. They are but one of many tribes united under the first Captain of the Riders, Anne Atli, a female warrior, who has since been known as Mother of the Steppes Riders. Seems the Riders can live to be 1,200 years old. Andreeva Fyodorov is the daughter of Anne Atli. Magdalina Fyodorov is Anne’s sister and her second-in-command.
Gaavrilovich Trifonov is of the Bear Hunters of the Heartless Clouds in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains tribe.
The Desert Lands of the Nolwenn Witches
Sister Rhianwen is actually Annwyl’s niece, Briec and Talaith’s perfect, perfect daughter, sent to the witches for training in her powers. (Ya really gotta read Last Dragon Standing, 4, to properly appreciate that bit, lol.) Elder Elisa is the strongest among them and Izzy’s great-grandmother while Elder Haldane is Izzy’s grandmother.
The Ice Lands and the Kyvich Witches
Gisa and Fia are fellow students with Princess Talwyn, but they don’t have much of a part to play. I assume that will come with the next installment.
The Brotherhood of the Far Mountains
Brother Magnus is bored, bored, bored. And he’s friends with Prince Talan of the Southlands. The true feelings of Father Robert, Brother Oliver, and the others comes out.
Brigida the Foul is a great-great-many-greats aunt whom the entire family fears, for she is a great and powerful Dragonwitch who should have died centuries ago.
Costentyn is a very old dragon who loves to read and do research. Baron Roscommon‘s greed will do him in. Miles, Terence, Old Robert, and even soldiers who had fought with dragons are consumed with greed and hatred. Uncle Addolgar the Cheerful, Ghleanna’s brother, leads a squad of Cadwaladrs to help Celyn take his revenge. Elara is one of Addolgar’s daughters.
Baron Pyrs and Baron Thomas are idiots. Baron Neish needs troops. Lolly is a shopgirl who knows Celyn well. Stenam is a one of the shop owners in town. Robert is his youngest son, off playing spy with his friends.
The hypocritical Priestess Abertha is from the Annaig Valley where her brother, Duke Roland Salebiri, rules from the city of Levenez. Thomas Salebiri was their younger brother, quick to see “seething whores of corruption”, and lost his head. Saleibri has merged with a religion, a demanding god, Chramnesind, The Sightless One.
The Riders of the Western Mountains are a different group from the Riders of the Outerplains — and they’re slavers. The Mì-runach were the making of Éibhear. They’re a vile, vicious group of Dragonwarriors who don’t need no stinkin’ orders.
The Cover and Title
The cover is fuchsia and peach. You’d think the fuchsia was a mere background, but it is scaled like a dragon’s skin. Celyn is standing in a three-quarter profile, his dark jeans giving the illusion of nudity as they seem to disappear under the yellow-green title, an armband around his right bicep, grasping a sword, and staring out at us.
The title could apply to either Celyn or Elina. Of the many possibilities bouncing off the inside of my head, my favorite is that Celyn has discovered that Elina will Light My Fire on this particular journey.