Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Length: 6 hours, 22 minutes
Danica is so not like other girls. It’s not just the natural beauty, or how good she looks in leather pants and a corset, or her knee-length copper hair. Mostly, it’s because she’s a dragon. The first female dragon born in a very long time, and once the other dragons find out she exists, it will be an all out war to own her. The race of dragons is dying, with the males unable to guarantee their lineage. A child may or may not be born from a dragon and human union, but the chances of that child being a dragon? Slim. Very slim.
Danica is clever and cunning and ruthless, as any good dragon ought to be, and with her bonded family — her protectors, Xander, a bear shifter, and Aiden, a wolf; other members of her bonded pack, Matthew, Kenshin, and Aiden — she intends to reveal herself to the world only when she is strong enough to defend herself. But time is running out because Kollin Olsen, the Glacier, a powerful ice dragon, has reached out to her.
SYN Consulting is the first book in the Dragon War Chronicles and, as such, has a great deal of heavy lifting to do as far as world building and character building. And none of it would work without Danica. She’s playful and ruthless, indifferent to the world around, her but eager to own the parts that are to her the shiniest. Danica is all sleek power and confidence, sly humor and caution. Revealing herself too soon makes her a target, but she will not deny who she is or what. Most of what we see of her, though, is through the eyes of her harem — and, on occasion, Kollin — and they adore her.
Xander is a bear shifter, stoic, and protective and … honestly, he’s a bit of a would-be-alpha. Due to actual reasons explained in the book (magical and genetic tinkering by the ancient dragons), Xander feels an instant need to worship, serve, and love Danica. He’s … very un-woke. To him, Danica is the epitome of “not like other girls.” Xander thinks that every mood is a different type of woman she can be. Laughing, she’s like a child; angry, she’s a powerful woman. If she’s eating ice cream, she’s confident in her body. If she’s working out, she’s hot and taking care of herself. To be honest, Xander’s thoughts reminded me of those early paranormal romances and, while it was amusing at times, it did get a bit wearing.
Xander, along with Aiden and, on occasion Matthew, helps Danica through her lengthy heats, but it’s not romantic love between them. It’s the love of family and the enjoyment of sex. There’s laughter and comfort and companionship. Xander, despite his devotion to Danica, is in love with Matthew, but the two of them keep their relationship quiet so as to not worry or concern her. Xander doesn’t mind giving Danica what she needs or wants, because he loves her, and what he has with Matthew is different. And Matthew doesn’t object because he, too, loves Danica. All of the boys in Danica’s harem have their own lives, their own relationships and loves, but there’s no jealousy, there. What they give and get from one another (and others) is different from what they give and get from their dragon queen, and it’s nice to see such low-stress and low-angst loves.
The plot is interesting, with more of a focus on cleverness and guile than fight scenes — though the book has those, too — but half the book, at least, is dedicated to how Danica got her harem, and all the sexy times she gets up to with them.
I was given a copy of the audio book to review, and I have to say, full marks to Michael Ferraiuolo for his voice work. Danica’s French accent, Kollin’s Norwegian, and all the others scattered through sounded effortless. And while I, at first, had my doubts about the Danica sections, as she is one of the prime points of view in the book — not all narrators are equal when it comes to female voices — Michael Ferraiuolo was just flawless. He gave her voice personality and playfulness, making scenes that could have been played shewish or snarky seem more calculated and intelligent.
I’ll confess, I already reviewed this ebook and didn’t care for Danica. But hearing this different take on her voice has completely changed my mind on both Danica and the story. I cannot stress enough how good Michael Ferraiuolo was at making Danica come alive, or how much I enjoyed his version of the character.
If you’re interested in dragons, found family, shifters, and paranormal romances — especially those that fully embrace and poke fun at the earlier tropes of black leather trench coats and brooding, kick-ass heroines — consider giving this one a try, especially the audio version.