Deven has found himself in and out of trouble — and in and out of his share of beds. If that annoys the town elders, then so be it. But Deven also loves his aunt and uncle and cares about others. So when the town council approaches Deven to seduce the local dragon in order to obtain one of his scales, Deven agrees. The scale is meant to help a young boy recover from a life threatening illness. Plus, Deven is intrigued by the dragon, who is never seen in town, and figures it will be a bit of an adventure.
When Fiora gets a letter from the local town council telling him they are sending him the gift of someone pure and innocent, he isn’t much interested. The days of dragons looking for young maidens as a sacrifice are long past — not that Fiora has ever been interested in maidens in the first place. But to keep the peace with the town, he reluctantly agrees to accept the gift. When Fiora sees Deven, he realizes the man is not quite the virgin sacrifice he had anticipated. But Fiora is pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous man and finds himself quickly charmed by Deven.
However, Fiora is suffering under a curse that will kill him if he sleeps with someone who doesn’t love him (and kill his lover if Fiora should bed someone he doesn’t love himself). So as much as he is growing to enjoy Deven’s company, Fiora knows nothing can come of their friendship. Fiora is also suspicious of just why Deven has agreed to come stay at the castle. He knows there is some ulterior motive, he just doesn’t know what it is.
As Deven gets to know Fiora, he begins to develop genuine feelings. As much as he wants to save young Peter’s life, he also can’t bear to hurt Fiora or to risk him thinking Deven is merely using him by stealing the scale. Both men have truly come to care for one another, but with the curse hanging over them, the wrong move could see them dead.
Deven and the Dragon is really a delightful story. It is fun and sweet and sexy and I found myself thoroughly entertained. Eliot Grayson has a light touch here, bringing some humor to this fantasy/fairy tale. Deven is quite aware of his reputation and his faults, and is bold enough to say what he thinks. This passage gave me a bit of a giggle as Deven talks to the town council:
“We’ve sent a letter, and we’re awaiting a reply. And I’m sure it will be affirmative, because what dragon doesn’t want gifts from humans?”
“We’re going to send you along with a nice bottle of wine,” Holling put in, his tone conciliatory. “To make you more welcome.”
Deven stared, fighting the urge to rip out his own hair with both hands. A hysterical burst of laugher welled up.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he choked. “Are you completely barking mad? You’re going to send me to be possibly eaten by a fucking dragon, and you’re including a wine pairing?”
Fiora himself is a delightful combination of wealthy and aristocratic, but also not very self assured. He is sure he is unattractive (given his pale blue skin) and has trouble believing in Deven’s attraction. He is also just the right amount out of his element with Deven, a frank talking commoner who comes from a totally different world. Fiora could have come across as snooty and annoying, but instead Grayson has made him just adorable. His secret thrill in Deven finding him appealing, the way he gets drunk on strong ale, and the way he delights in experiencing simple things to which he has never been exposed make him so endearing. That touch of vulnerability gives him great balance and I just loved these two together.
The crux of the problem is the curse Fiora faces, and how to balance his growing feelings for Deven, while knowing they will bring him certain death. This comes together with some excitement, as well as some really tender moments. Deven and the Dragon nicely combines a swoony romance, with some humor and fun, making it a wonderful fantasy that kept me engaged throughout the book.