It’s been a while since I’ve read a romance that was a fantasy, but in the midst of baking for the holiday, I realized that was just what I was in the mood for. Luckily I had Heart of the Dragon’s Realm amidst my NetGalley offerings and it fit the bill.
Kimri is the headstrong princess of one of the riverland countries at war and her brother needs the bride price she can bring. When the peaceful and mysterious mountain-king offers for her, his finely wrought swords are a deciding factor in the acceptance of the betrothal. She’s resentful at being sold, yet her adventurous nature, one that had her cut her hair and disguise herself as a soldier before being caught, can’t help but rise to the adventure of her situation.
She’s even more relieved when she arrives in the city of Helsmont, for not only is the handsome King Tathan solicitous but he informs her that in his country they observe the tradition of a year-long betrothal so both parties have a chance to know one another and cry off if the match doesn’t suit. Kimri is astonished and relieved, and that positive feeling grows as she is allowed by all and sundry to be exactly who she is. She can ride her horse, visit the baker and smith, and learn the beautiful tradition of sword dancing handed to the people by the dragon they believe lives in the mountain.
But as her heart warms to Tathan and chooses him as her husband, a cloud passes over her happiness after she hears her brother the king has been captured. Tathan has to remain neutral and cannot hand over the ransom, driving Kimri to make a rash decision that might save her brother but cost her everything her heart wants in this cold mountain kingdom. Unless the magic of the dragon can somehow come to her aid, that is.
This would be an excellent book for someone who doesn’t like hard core fantasy but enjoys a small element of magic and the politics and traditions of another world. Kimri is an outstanding heroine (the entire book is told from her perspective) and it’s easy to fall for the silent but warm Tathan, particularly when the informal people of Helsmont are factored in. The political issues are well-developed and logical, and my only criticism is I think the fantasy element most evident at the end of the book should have been threaded more firmly through the first three-quarters of it as well. While there is a pull between Kimri and Tathan and they exchange kisses, the sensuality level of this novel is very mild with the final consummation of their relationship literally happening lovingly and discretely in the last couple pages.
Karalynn Lee appears to have written other science fiction and fantasy novellas (to her credit, this book was only 134 pages but I thought felt like a longer book as nowhere did the plot feel compressed to me) so I may try a couple having enjoyed this one so thoroughly. A major criticism however is that she almost proudly states on her website that she is not present on any social networks. Excuse me??!! I think it’s vastly irresponsible of any author to not be promoting their work and connecting with reader on sites like Twitter and Facebook. She doesn’t even have a fleshed out Goodreads page! If there’s anything that might make me not read her work, it’s this choice of hers since I like to connect with the authors I enjoy and know I’m going to hear about the latest publications or authors they enjoy through these avenues of communication.
While Heart of the Dragon’s Realm might be a wonderful book in a medieval like setting, modern authors need to join the 21st century and promote their terrific novellas on social networks! Face your own dragon, Karalynn, and hop on already. 🙂