Rating: 4.5 stars
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For Sunshine Barklay, the land he now owns offers him an escape and a place to heal. The sudden death of his parents rocked him to the core and this wild and familiar place makes him feel a little less lost. His sister, Daisy, thinks Sunny’s hiding and maybe he is, but it’s what he needs and he has Fernforest, his mother’s faithful dog, so he’s not alone. And when Sunny finds a naked, wearied man in his woods, Sunny knows he has to help him.
Emile Cote is not what he seems, but Sunny’s natural warmth and tenderness soothe away the hurts of his former life. Emile isn’t a fool though. He knows this odd little paradise can’t last. At the very least, Sunny deserves to know the truth of who and what Emile is. But even that won’t keep Sunny safe when the reality of Emile’s world begins to intrude and change the forest around them. Caught between wonderment of Nature, the wildness of the unknown, and a dangerous threat, Emile and Sunny will discover a magic all their own, one that might change them forever.
Sunshine in the Dragon’s Heart was a delightful mixture of warm and fuzzy tangled with the dark and wild. There are some themes of mental bondage and subjugation of will here, so I’ll go ahead and offer up a trigger warning, although there isn’t anything graphically violent or traumatic.
Right away it was easy to connect with Sunny. The depth of his grief is a raw and painful, but managed in such a way by the author that it doesn’t take over the entire story. It’s a part of him, but not the only part, and Sunny’s heartfelt personality really takes his character to the next level. Emile is equally sweet, though more complex, which makes sense given his history. Their romance, while a bit sudden for my tastes, does feel more relaxed and realistic than most stories with an insta-love in the making.
The storytelling here is a credit and the plot moves swiftly, faltering only when it gets tangled in the weeds of its own complexity. And that’s something we have to talk about. There are times, especially when we’re being told about Emile’s past, that things get excessively convoluted. It almost seems as if the author doesn’t quite have a full grip on their own creation and the result is a bit garbled. Now does this derail the story? Not really. You might have to go back and re-read some sections just for clarification, but it doesn’t detract from the overall plot or the characters and the development of their relationship.
On the whole, Sunshine in the Dragon’s Heart was an enjoyable romance that raises questions about the intelligence of the natural world around us and our role in either protecting it or ignoring it. There are times when the plot muddies itself, but I think most readers will enjoy the overall sweetness of this one.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.