Heart of the Dragon
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I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi shows (which is a huge perk for my husband, who pretty much worships at the altar of Shatner) so when I saw Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter I had to give it a shot.

While searching the Amazon for her missing brother, Grace Carlyle wanders into a cave and suddenly finds herself in a strange foreign land, about to be killed by a tall, dark, and handsome stranger. It seems she’s somehow stumbled into the lost underwater city of Atlantis. Showalter’s Atlantis isn’t an advanced civilization as the legend originally says; instead, it’s sort of like the “Island of Misfit Toys” for the Greek Gods, the place where they sent their “mistakes.” This Atlantis is home to any number of mythical creatures, including vampires and nymphs, and is guarded by a race of shape-shifting men who can turn into dragons. Darius en Kragin is one of the dragons charged with killing anyone who discovers the entrance to his homeland—including Grace. The problem is that he falls in love with Grace, and rather than dispatching her, he teams up with his “mate” (remember: he is a dragon) to find Grace’s brother and uncover the mystery of who has invaded Atlantis via another portal and is plundering Atlantis’s riches.

Darius is the most intriguing character in the novel. As a child, he witnessed his entire family being slaughtered by invaders, and from that moment on he became a killing machine, ruthlessly slaughtering anyone unfortunate enough to wander into his domain. Over three hundred years later (remember: he’s a dragon) Darius has become so detached he doesn’t think of anything other than the kill; he’s lost the sense of smell, of taste, and even of seeing in color. He throws himself into his job, so to speak, as a way of escaping the pain and guilt he feels over his family’s deaths. Grace and Darius would be more compelling as a couple if she had a similar back-story, but we don’t learn much about her other than she was originally from the south and is a virgin. The sex scenes between the two were nice and hot, but few and far between, unfortunately.

When reading a book about the lost city of Atlantis, you have to suspend your disbelief a good amount, but as the novel went on, said suspension got to be a burden. Grace accepted the existence of Atlantis far too easily, as well as her lover’s little quirks of breathing fire and growing scales. Conversely, Darius falls far too easily into the modern world—he takes to the idea of guns and Kevlar vests like a fish to water, for instance. I think I would have found the story more believable if there was more tension—sometimes a little disbelief is necessary in order to believe. The plot is thin and needs more nuance—plain old “greed” is behind the invasion of Atlantis and the kidnapping of Grace’s brother; somehow it seems too simple.

Showalter isn’t the worst writer in history, but she needs to embrace the concept of the comma—there are far too many short, fragmentary sentences. I know she was probably going for a tense, somewhat edgy style of writing, but instead it seemed like she just needed a good editor.

Heart of the Dragon is part of a whole series involving Atlantis, and even though the book itself was entertaining, I don’t think I’ll read it again. If I want to get my Atlantis fix, I’m sure they have Stargate: Atlantis reruns on Sci-fi. I recommend you all do the same.

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