by Donna Grant
Published on December 31, 2013 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Romance
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The Dark Kings are sworn to defend an ancient legacy of dragon magic. But their fiercest challenge lies in the modern world, where a woman’s love conquers all. These are their stories.
This book contains the first 3 Dark Kings prequels + a bonus story, "Passion's Claim":
Fueled by ancient magic—and enflamed by human desire—the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love...with a mortal woman.
The dark immortal warriors were never meant to experience human desire. But when Guy, a member of an ancient order of shape-shifting warriors, meets Elena—a mere mortal whose beauty and blind ambition shakes him to his core—all bets are off...
For centuries, the Dragon Kings have hidden their shapeshifting powers from the world. But when a mortal enemy threatens to expose them, the warrior Banan must leave his secret lair in the Highlands to risk his life for the dragons within—and resist the temptations of human love.
Banan has been waiting for centuries for someone like Jane. Guy knew it was love at first sight with Elena. Can two Dragon Kings commit to two immortal women for eternity? Or does fate have something else in store?
Not realizing that these three prequel novellas, bound in one book Dark Heat, existed, I read Darkest Flame first and was very confused about a few of the characters. So I held off on my review of the first in the series so I could fill in the gaps. We get 3 of the Dragon Kings in this one, as well as some of the events that happened before the first book in the series, though I still need to read the Dark Warriors books to flesh out the world even more.
THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS OH MY GOODNESS.
Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of novellas. I loved being able to get insight into some of the Dragon Kings that don’t get their own full-length novels.
Hal’s story is first. The emerald Dragon King catches sight of Cassie, who’s staying at her brother’s cottage on the land near the Kings’ domain. To be honest, there wasn’t much of a story here beyond the romance which, for a novella, was very well written. I see now that the main books in the series feature a lot more of the world and other going-on’s than these novellas do and I both like and dislike it.
From what little we get of Hal and Cassie, I already like them both. Hal cares a lot about his fellow Kings and it makes the decision of what to do with Cassie even harder. And she’s had her whole life blow up but manages to find something good in it all which I’m glad for. I do wish a little more of the tension of her initial arrival and the fact that her brother has disappeared would have impacted the story more, just to build the world with the romance. But overall, I liked that Grant was able to condense the story to a shorter length without compromising the relationship. I’m already over the fact that it was a lust-to-love deal because that seems to be how the Dragon Kings work with the whole mate thing.
Next up is Dragon King Guy. This time around I saw a bit more of the world and the story starts to lead into a future conflict, especially how this novella ends. He stumbles upon Elena after she and her boss trespass on the Kings’ land for a big of caving. There’s a lot of the romance and their instant attraction turning to love within a couple days. But several details are sprinkled throughout that suggest Elena will be playing a larger role in the lives of the Kings beyond being the mate of Guy.
I’m not sure how this will play out since this book actually falls in the middle of the Dark Warriors series suggesting a time gap between the end of these stories and the start of Darkest Flame. I don’t know where this story is going to fit into the grand scheme of things just yet but should (hopefully) find out in the next novella, as well as the accompanying short story in the bind-up.
This one felt shorter than the first two. Elena and Guy return, but it’s Banan’s story as he meets Jane, another employee of PureGem (where Elena also works). It picks up directly after the end of Night’s Awakening so I definitely recommend reading them back-to-back. Much of the interactions between Banan and Jane are the result of their investigation into who is trying to discover the Dragon Kings’ secret. And I liked the added tension of the world and story starting to come into play since it takes a larger role in the first book.
I’ll say, though, that I didn’t like the ending to this one. The novella before this flows right into this one and that was alright because the characters had their ending, but this one doesn’t really conclude quite the same. Dark Heat includes a bonus short story at the end that is several chapters long so if you read the novellas separately, you might miss out on the ending to this particular story arc and (likely) the lead-in to the next one.
Now this was the conclusion I wanted from the last novella(s). The story is split into two parts that are sort of multi-chapter epilogues for Banan/Jane and Guy/Elena. Everything wraps up on the romance end of things for the three couples featured in this book, but there’s a lot going on in the background that I have a feeling will be leading to something bigger.