Tuesday, October 06, 2009

There Be Dragons by Heather Graham

Nico D'Or was once the Falcon Master to the Count of Lendo. But when he saved the Count in the midst of battle, the Count made Nico his heir before he died. Not only did Nico save the count, but also the day by saving Princess Elisia. They fell in love, and were married, and then he saved her once again on their wedding day, from a terrible and powerful dragon.

But their marriage did *not* please their neighbor, the Countess Genovia, who was a terrible and mighty sorceress. She had intended for her husband to become the count of Lendo before Nico ruined her plans. She could ensure that Nico and Elisia's time together was short, and that Miranda, their daughter, was engaged to her own son, Carlo Baristo. Genova even became Marina's guardian, though she treated Marina more as a servant than a daughter.

But as Marina's wedding day approached, Christmas Day, she rescued a fairy named Thomasina, who had taken falcon form to evade Carlo, whose love for hunting gave her an arrow wound that Marina undertook to heal. In return for her kind and generous spirit, the fairy gave Marina three wishes. Marina didn't believe the fairy and wished that her nasty betrothed would fall into the Horse Trough.

But later, Carlo did indeed fall into the Horse Trough, and Marina slowly began to believe in Magic. Knowing that she must marry the cruel Carlo, though, she uses her second wish to spend the day and a night with the perfect man- a man she might love, and man who could love her in return.

The man her wish brings her never tells her who he is, but he is Michelo, the son of the Duke of Fiorelli. And he is betrothed to Carlo Baristo's sister, Daphne. Betrothed, but not in love. And as for Daphne, she is loved and loves Armand, a poor knight. But she is willing to do her duty and marry Michelo, even though neither of them love each other.

But even as Thomasina and the old man magician Radifini conspire and strive to bring the two lovers together, they are opposed by Genova and her hateful son, Carlo. But when the dragon that Marina's father rescued her mother from returns, Genova contrives to have Marina sacrificed to the beast. But can the fairy and magician save Marina from Genova's much more powerful magic? Is there a power that can overcome such dark and terrible magic?

Will Marina use her last wish, or is there another power that can save both her and Michelo?

I found this to be a good, if short, story.It's super-short. and felt even shorter, ironically, because of the large size of the book's pages. But I couldn't escape the feeling that I was reading a kid's book, mainly because of the art that graces the pages of the book. Even the story added to that, as it has a definite "fairy tale" feel.

Make no mistake- it's beautiful art. Photorealistic, in most places, so that it almost seems like snapshots. But the juxtaposition of the art and text invariably said "Children's Book" to me rather than "Romance Novel". It's also rather unwieldy for a romance novel- it won't be fitting into your pocket or even into your purse, unless you carry a really huge purse!

Along with that fairy tale feel I mentioned are some of the drawbacks of a fairy-tale style story. In short, characters that are more "types" than well-rounded characters. You have the EVIL for the sake of Evil witch, her bullying son with a cruel streak a mile wide- willing to kill a horse for no other reason than it knocked him into a horse trough and embarrassed him. And of course the good and kind heroine, and her accomplished, brave love, as well as the knight in love with the witch's daughter, who turns out to be good rather than evil. I usually like my characters a little more individualized than the fairly stock types we were presented with here.

It's also a very expensive book- 25 dollars, but is disappointingly thin for all that money- too much, I felt, even with the paintings/pictures added into the deal. The CD that came with the book didn't anything for me, either, as I find stories read to me are interminable because I can read faster on my own. In short, this book is good to read from the library, but it doesn't really make sense to buy it on your own.

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