True Love versus Sorcerer’s Curse
As a re–interpretation of the fable Beauty and the Beast, this was a must read for me as it was one of my favourite fairytales as a child! I enjoyed Christine Pope’s, “Welcome to Skullcrusher Mountain” (see my review earlier this month) and Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms #2) is a compelling read which has you rooting for a seemingly elusive HEA for the cursed Dragon and his Bride!
Dragon Rose is set in Lirinsholme, a town that forms part of “the Latter Kingdoms,” lands which have prospered since the end of the mage wars and the decline of magic. Rhianne, a potter’s daughter, is expected to marry well to secure the financial stability of her family and fund dowries for her younger sisters. In ages past, when sorcerers ruled, Theran Blackmoor’s form was cursed by a mage and he become known as the “Dragon of Black Keep.” The town of Lirinsholme, over which the Dragon presides, is bound to provide him with a Bride when he demands one to avoid the destruction of its property and its citizens. All know that marriage to the Dragon means certain death for the unfortunate Brides as none are ever heard of once they enter the Dragon’s keep.
Rhianne’s actions inadvertently cause a scandal, which threatens her family’s livelihood and reduces her chances of making a good match. The town also learns that the Dragon is demanding a Bride. Rhianne and all unmarried women between the ages of 16 and 20 are summoned to the selection, where Rhianne’s best friend Lilianth, who is affianced to her sweetheart, is selected, by virtue of her name being drawn. Rhianne volunteers in her stead, leaving Lilianth is free to marry her fiancé and ensuring that her own family is compensated generously for their loss.
Rhianne is immediately whisked away to the Dragon’s keep and married to Theran Blackmoor, the Dragon, who has the appearance of a tall, slender man, hidden beneath a cloak and a cowl. Although there is a wedding banquet of sorts, there is no wedding night and Rhianne is given sumptuous chambers, clothes and jewels to wear and is treated kindly by the servants. Theran even indulges her love of painting. Theran initially remains aloof from Rhianne, however, they slowly develop a friendship and Rhianne finds herself falling in love with him. Secrets abound in the castle and Rhianne embarks on a quest to get to the truth of the fate of the Brides and the curse. Rhianne is plagued by vivid dreams, the content of which she becomes obsessed with. She also hears strange voices and grows increasingly melancholic as she becomes terrified of what will be her eventual fate. All seems hopeless but the author manages to secure a HEA with an unexpected twist.
Rhianne is a wholly likeable heroine. Although self-sacrificing and modest, she is also unconventional and has a strong determination to find out the truth. Once she is convinced that the Dragon is not going to eat her, she becomes to regard the castle as home. Her attraction to Theran grows over time and she becomes drawn to him more and more as the tale unfolds, although she feels her love is unrequited as whilst she craves his touch he draws away. Theran remains a mysterious figure throughout the early part of the tale, although his kindness towards Rhianne is shown early on. We also witness him in his Dragon form on a number of occasions, which are terrifying to behold. We see that he grows to admire and care for Rhianne through his speech and actions, but like Rhianne are left wondering at his reticence to invite further intimacies and to not reveal fully the details of the curse and what it means for his Brides.
The story is told from Rhianne’s POV, which enables us to experience her changing emotions, encompassing feelings of fear, pity, love and increasing desperation first hand as the story progresses. The descriptions the author gives of the castle and the town of Lirinsholme and the rest of the kingdom are vivid. Roses and the rose garden at the castle feature prominently, paying homage to the fairytale we know and love. I particularly liked the way the author’s descriptions of the castle and its environs were used to reflect Rhianne’s increasing melancholy towards the conclusion to the book.
I would recommend this novel to all those who enjoy a sweet romance, especially those who enjoy fantasy romances. I was intrigued by Christine Pope’s references to other parts of the world she has created and will be reading the prior novel, “All Fall Down (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms #1)” and the next instalment, “Binding Spell,” the release of which is planned in late Spring this year, details of which are given on the author’s website. At the time of writing this post I noticed that the author also has details of some easy to enter book giveaways on her site, so it might be worth checking these out. if you think you may like her work
Copyright 2012 by Christine Pope www.christinepope.com
Published by Dark Valentine Press www.darkvalentinepress.com
Cover art by Nadica Boskovska www.theswanmaiden.deviantart.com
Cover design and ebook formatting by Indie Author Services www.indieauthorservices.com
Reviewed by Tina Williams