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Review: Betrothed to the Dragon

Betrothed to the Dragon audiobook cover. A bare-chested man with fiery wings. Betrothed to the Dragon by Kara Lockharte.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 3 hrs 46 mins.
Publisher: Smartia Publishing.
🔥Steamy scenes!🔥

Betrothed to the Dragon, Dragon Lovers, Book 1 by Kara Lockharte is an action-packed, steamy paranormal romance that turns its heroine's world upside-down, and tasks the hero with helping her make things right.

(Note: Goodreads list this book as being Book 11 in the Lick of Fire series, and Book 1 in the Dragon Lovers series. Audible UK list it as Book 1 of the Lick of Fire series, but clicking the series link brings up the Dragon Lovers series. Just to make finding it as confusing as possible.)

Audible Summary: "I’m engaged to a stranger, a man-dragon. If I don’t marry him, I’m as good as dead.
I’ve been hiding all my life. Unlike the rest of my once powerful family, I have no magic. The immortal monster that ate them all, still hunts me. And my grandmother thinks that the only way to save me from the monster is to marry me to another monster: a dragon.

Only this monster is perfection in human form: all rippling golden muscle and more gorgeous than anyone who shifts into a scaled monstrous beast has a right to be. His magic calls me, his heat enthralls me and my mind melts at the touch of his inhumanely hot hands on my skin.

There is no way I can marry him. I know what he truly wants: access to my family’s power. But I have no magic, no power of my own. He thinks he knows what he’s getting with me. I don’t play those games. It’s better to run from a monster, than to marry one. I’m no dragon’s treasure. Even if my heart wishes otherwise.

©2018 Smartia Publishing (P)2019 Smartia Publishing."

I haven't read much paranormal romance (PNR) in years, and even then - with a bookshelf full of Laurell K. Hamilton - very little of it contained dragons. But I love Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series, and though that is more steampunky fantasy than PNR, that certainly helped endear me to the notion of dragon-shifters.

I still found that I was unprepared for quite how much suspension of disbelief this audiobook required, though. Some of it was faintly ridiculous, and during an odd finger-puppetry scene in particular, I was torn between laughter and bemusement at a moment when neither were intended.

Once I settled into it and stopped expecting things to make sense (or to obey the laws of physics), I came to quite like the characters and was invested in their race to defeat The Devourer and save the day.

Sophie is as ordinary as Hunter is extraordinary, and though she cannot match his power or confidence, she's no pushover. The disgruntled resignation with which she accepts that she must wait to be rescued was certainly preferable to the traditional damsel in distress, but she often seemed rather inconsistent. Because Sophie was still figuring out who she was and what role she had to play in the fight ahead, I found it tricky to get to know her. Hunter was more reserved, and we learnt less about his background, but that implacable, predatory countenance suited his character. Though they had very little time to become acquainted, their magical bond strengthened throughout their quest. I would have been interested to see where it took them next, had the epilogue not wrapped up most of their story arc while passing the baton to the next couple.

I liked the idea that the Shen can control their descendants' human form, weaving together traits they think will be advantageous. Sophie's average looks and build were designed to help her blend in and stay safe, though it doesn't explain why it was her grandmother who chose hers, not her mother or father, or at what point the choices are made. Is it the eldest living relative at the time of conception who selects the features of the new baby? Are the choices made in utero, during a ceremony prior to conception, or after birth?

Again, this was another thread that I had to try not to pull, for fear of unravelling too much. Perhaps the aspects that I felt needed more clarity have been more broadly explained in the wider series. I chose to listen because it was billed as the first in a new series, but it seems to be tied in to a well established world with ten previous books to its name.

Much of the story felt like YA fiction, especially the epilogue, but the raunchy bits are more adult than that, so I struggled to place it at times. New Adult, perhaps? The hero and heroine certainly ended up naked a lot. Not just in the intimate scenes, but - rather inexplicably - even in the midst of battle when the world was consumed by so much fire that it burnt their clothes off. (There are fourteen year old D&D dungeon masters making notes as we speak.)

The narrator, Victoria Mei, gave Sophie a voice that suited the character well, and remained enthusiastic and lively in her performance.

Though somewhat lightweight, this audiobook was well paced and a quick listen, full of lust, magic, and ancient battles between good and evil that held enough of my attention to be enjoyable.

I'd recommend Betrothed to the Dragon to lovers of paranormal romance who are looking for a fun taster to a new series, and those like myself who need an easy way back into the genre.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in the hope of an honest, unbiased review.

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