Bartholomew is a wealthy dragon and a successful CEO. Unlike many of his dragon friends, Bartholomew doesn’t like to laze around all day. He works hard and likes to keep busy. But lately, Bartholomew has realized he is both looking for a new challenge, as well as lonely. Two of his close friends have recently found their mates and Bartholomew definitely wishes he would find his own. When his friend, Laszlo, calls looking for someone to hire an omega who has been stirring up trouble, as well as to give the young man a bit of discipline, Bartholomew is eager for the distraction.
Pierre knows he made a huge mistake trying to come between Laszlo and his omega mate, and he almost lost his life because of it. Pierre feels incredible remorse for his behavior, but that may still not keep him off the streets. He sends all his money home to his sister to keep her in college, and losing the job with Laszlo leaves Pierre without a place to live, a car, or a salary. When he is told that Bartholomew will hire him, Pierre is desperate enough to accept any job he may be given. After surviving by selling himself for money in the past, Pierre figures he can handle just about anything.
It doesn’t take long for Bartholomew to realize that there is more to Pierre than just the bratty, flirty, young man in need of discipline that Laszlo described. Pierre is clearly remorseful for his actions with Laszlo and is not looking to cause any more trouble. Bartholomew also quickly realizes that Pierre is his mate, and rather than send him away after his discipline is done, Bartholomew knows he wants to keep Pierre for himself. Now he just has to convince Pierre that the men are meant to be together and can have a real future as mates.
The City Dragon’s Mate is the third book in Silvia Violet’s Lonely Dragon’s Club series. While the first two books overlap in timeline and in some of their scenes, this story stands a bit more separately, but still builds on the first two books. We met Pierre in The Christmas Dragon’s Mate and there saw his conflict with Laszlo and Roman. So I was excited to see that this book featured Pierre in a leading role, as I am a big fan of redemption stories. Violet does a really nice job here of showing us there is much more to Pierre than we have previously seen. He is not only incredibly sorry for his past actions, he is also a responsible man who has sacrificed to take care of his family. Despite his past bad behavior, I couldn’t help but feel for Pierre, lost and on the verge of crisis. So I definitely found myself sympathetic to Pierre and rooting for him to find his happiness.
I think this sympathy for Pierre is also why I struggled somewhat with this story. The set up here is that Bartholomew and Laszlo believe Pierre to be bratty and undisciplined. In fact, Laszlo wanted to see Pierre dead for the disrespect he showed in trying to come between Laszlo and his mate. The premise for the story is that Bartholomew is going to teach Pierre some discipline, and the implication is that it will ideally be of the sexually variety. When Pierre arrives, Bartholomew gives him endless tasks with the goal of tripping Pierre up and making him fail — thus leading to punishment. He is intentionally unreasonable, punishing Pierre for things like accidentally dropping a sock. Bartholomew essentially gives Pierre the choice to obey or be out on the streets. I found myself somewhat frustrated here, as Pierre is clearly a man who is hurting and desperate and Bartholomew is aware of how defeated he is. So what is set up as sort of a fun, kinky game of teaching the bratty sub some manners, instead often felt needlessly cruel to me, and made it harder to connect with these guys as a romantic couple. I guess it is my human sensibilities, but while trying to break up a couple because you are in love with one of the men is a jerky thing to do, the fact that both dragons think this is worthy of death feels way over the top.
I also was a little uncomfortable with some of the early sexual dynamic. At one point, Bartholomew punishes Pierre by spanking him sexually. But after their interaction, Pierre wants to go back to non-physical punishments. When Bartholomew gives Pierre a near impossible task as punishment for burning dinner because his sister needed him, a task that will take him all night, Bartholomew seems to push for the sexual interaction he wants:
I intended to leave, but I found myself captivated as I watched him contemplate the nearly impossible task I’d given him. He frowned down at the duster, then surveyed the room, obviously not knowing where to start.
“There are other options, you know? Was last night’s punishment really so bad?”
He shook his head. “I can’t.”
“And that decision is entirely up to you.”
He looked up at me, lips slightly parted, chest rising and falling rapidly. He smelled even richer and more potent than he had the night before. His heat was definitely near. I could seduce him, but I wanted him to come to me. I wanted—needed—it to be his choice.
“If you’re determined to do this the boring way, then get on with it. As you said, it might take you all night.”
Let me be totally clear, there is absolutely nothing sexual that happens without consent here. In fact, not just consent, but eagerness. So it isn’t that I felt like Pierre was forced into anything. I just felt uncomfortable with the early dynamic between them and the way Bartholomew uses his power over someone who is clearly not an equal partner. Pierre is physically weaker, emotionally vulnerable, and financially dependent on Bartholomew and has little choice but to agree to their arrangement (even though he ultimately finds himself enjoying it). It is presented as a romantic and playful build to their relationship, but it just didn’t feel that way to me.
All that said, once we get past the early interactions, the relationship felt much more solid to me and I felt things worked much better. Pierre is very eager to be with Bartholomew and they have a nice connection. For all his earlier toughness, Bartholomew is caring and doting on Pierre and is willing to stand up for him, even in the face of his friends’ displeasure. There are some sweet moments, like when Pierre rides on Bartholomew’s back, and it is clear that Bartholomew is caring and generous with others. I also enjoyed the way this story circles back to Roman and Laszlo and all the lonely dragon’s gang. We get just a bit of our final dragon, Desmond, here and I am really eager to see how things come together for him.
So I found this one a bit rockier than the others, but still an enjoyable story and I liked seeing Pierre get his redemption. I am looking forward to the final story in the series coming out soon.