It’s an exciting fact about the romance industry today that publishers (and maybe authors) are becoming more open to publishing books that don’t quite fit exactly into one subgenre of romance. It’s completely and utterly due the rise of ebooks, since knowing what genre you are is vital for the bookseller who needs to (literally) put you on a given shelf. With an ebook however, you can be tagged into multiple categories, with all those interested readers empowered to discover you with just the click of a mouse. Undoubtedly, readers (at least those with ebook access) are the richer for it.
Jamie K. Schmidt‘s latest novel, The Queen’s Wings, is a great example of a unique novel that straddles a few subgenres. Containing a world in which male dragons abound and everyone knows it, it’s undoubtedly a paranormal romance, but the fact that it is written in the first person and involves a human who is unexpectedly nearing a dragon transformation (and therefore needs to be indoctrinated into a foreign world), gives the novel several strong urban fantasy elements.
Pretty much everyone thinks Carolyn is crazy. She dreams of flying as a dragon at night, one of the rooms in her bargain house is possessed by a ghost who writes messages in blood, and now she’s coughing up stinky belches which take the wallpaper off her walls. She feels everything is pointing to her becoming a dragon, even though as a graduate student in parazoology she’s well aware that 1) there are only five female dragons in the whole world and 2) you’re either hatched from a dragon egg or transform into one at the onset of puberty.
Chalking her impending transformation as another example of her being a late bloomer, she goes about attempting to convince everyone, or anyone, that she is one, but there are no takers, especially not the nice dragon at the local embassy. When she witnesses the embassy’s attack by two rogue dragons and ends up spewing up some kind of debillitating clear liquid, all of sudden her claims are being looked at with more care, particularly by two smoking hot dragon operatives. The sexy looks are par for the course since most male dragons could double as underwear models, but one of the officials, Reed, will barely give her the time of day since he’s got a “no humans” rule. That she seems to chip away at his good intentions the more time they spend together has lots of benefits for Carolyn, but as her oncoming transformation is confirmed, she’s not sure that she actually wants to join the dragon club.
Because according to everyone – Reed, his mother the crazy dragon queen of North America, and even Carolyn’s ancient boss, the dragon Niall – a female dragon has no life of her own, and is instead is sequestered away where she MUST take a harem of many male dragons and produce eggs to replenish their numbers. No love, marriage, or monogamy – all qualities of a relationship that Carolyn’s very human heart wants, and that Reed, the growing object of her affection, can’t possibly give her. When Carolyn and Reed begin to uncover exactly why there are so few female dragons – and a dangerous plot to bring more of them to light – Carolyn’s very life and her future happiness are in grave danger.
Jamie K. Schmidt has crafted a fascinating world, one in which dragons have never passed into lore and instead live among humans. The voice of her heroine, Carolyn, is fascinating – she’s a quirky, absent-minded professor with an internal filter resembling swiss cheese based on how many comments come out of her mouth that she meant to stay in her mind. Because of the first person perspective, Reed ends up coming off as a pretty big asshole for much of the book, in that really good, “wowza-he’s-an-alpha” kind of way.
The fact that this compelling first novel of the Emerging Queens series is going to have successors leaves me with more questions than answers. Will the next book, The Queen’s Flight, continue to star Carolyn and Reed or will one of the other new queens (say Arianna and the hunky, red-headed Jack) be the main focus? There is certainly plenty of political wiggle-room to continue the larger conspiracy and conflict and the existing characters are strong enough to continue the series.
Paranormal and urban fantasy fans (and dragon shifter lovers) should definitely give this novel a try. I have a feeling this is going to be a series I’m going to get a lot of enjoyment out of. 🙂 Hopping on the bus now insures you take advantage of Entangled’s $.99 offer for new books (which only lasts a couple of weeks). There’s also a Rafflecopter giveaway for a pair of silver dragon earrings and a $25 Amazon gift card for interested parties, so take a look!