by Emma Hamm
Book 1 in the Dragon of Umbra series
They handed her a sword and bid her to take a throne...
Lorelei is half elf in a kingdom where that bloodline is synonymous with "slave". The Umbra King holds everyone captive with his pet dragon who knows no mercy. She hides in the shadows and steals to stay alive, until a rebel group gives her an offer she can't refuse.
The King seeks a bride. If she can get close enough, she could drive a dagger into that wicked man's heart. But the bridal games are more difficult than most. Lorelei must prove herself not only beautiful, but talented, poised, and deadly as the king. However, the closer she gets to saving her kingdom, the more she realizes a singular problem stands in her way.
The King's bodyguard is more than a slathering beast. He's a man. And the longer she's near him, the more she realizes that perhaps the king isn't the most dangerous person in the kingdom. Perhaps she had to guard not only her body, but her heart. For a dragon mates for life, and they're hard pressed to give up their treasures.
Fire Heart by Emma Hamm is the first book in her The Dragon of Umbra series, and centers around two characters: Lorelei, a half elf/half human, hiding her elven heritage from the humans who slaughter her kind, and Abraxas, one of the last dragons in existence, who is enslaved by the King of Umbra. Lorelei makes do with little, and the little she has, she steals. It's a meager existence, but at least she is alive. When it is announced that the King will be looking for a wife, and rebellion forces Lorelei's hand to enter the race. Lorelei will be forced to hide herself even more, and dress and act like the lady she is not, all for a chance to get close enough to the King to kill him, and free her people and other beings from persecutions. But it's not as easy as the plan makes it out to be, with the King's dragon protecting him. A dragon. A man. And the longer Lorelei and Abraxas are around one another, the more Abraxas won't want to let her go.
So I will be honest and admit I had never heard of this book until it showed up in my adult Bookish Box subscription. But I'm a sucker for fantasy and romance, and when there are dragons, and fierce heroines? Hell yes. So I was excited to read this one. So, of course, when I ended up DNF'ing it 53% in, I was bummed. Hell, I wanted to love this one. Not just because it has the elements I mentioned above. I liked that this book had a rich, diverse range of species. I liked the plot, and the characters. I enjoyed it was dual POV. But there were some things working against it. For one, its in third person. It's hard for me to get into a third person narrative. Secondly, I didn't feel much chemistry between Lorelei and Abraxas. Third, I felt the story wasn't as ... fleshed out as I would like. It felt a bit rushed, and juvenile. The King is a ridiculous villain. And I felt like I was reading a young adult instead of an adult.
So yeah. I'm bummed. But thankfully, there are places I can sell these beautiful limited edition books that end up in my subscriptions if I don't like them, which eases the pain, when you consider as a Canadian these boxes with the goodies are over $80. So while the book didn't work out for me, it did work out for another lovely reader out there, who now gets my copy. And while I found myself bored while reading this, it obviously is a well loved series, as Bookish Box has continued the limited edition prints, and just released the second book for those who want a complete collection.
Abraxas: “I must ask that you not slap me again, lady.”
Lorelei: “I didn’t,”
she replied with a glint in her eyes.
Lorelei: “You slapped yourself, sir.” He grinned.
Abraxas: “My name is Abraxas, if you’re wondering.”
Lorelei: “I wasn’t.”
Abraxas: “I would have your name, lady. If only so that I might think of it in the night while I dream.”
He waved the net in the air.
Abraxas: “I plan to capture myself a power for the evening and then plan our wedding.”
Lorelei: “As if I would ever fall for a man like you.”
She crossed her arms over her chest, and her jaw jumped.
Lorelei: “My name is Lorelei.”
He clutched his chest as though an arrow had pierced his heart.
Abraxas: “A beautiful name. One I will surely never forget.”
Lorelei: “It would be hard to forget the name of the woman who ruined you for all others.” He might be the last dragon and he might be in a contract with a horrible king who wanted to destroy the very realm they all lived in. But a woman like that still existed. He could feel the power of her soul calling out to him. There was unfinished business between them. He could only hope to see her again. Lorelei: “Did you compare me to a rose?”
Abraxas: “Oh, no rose could compare to you. For a rose is beautiful, Lady of Starlight, but it has no secrets to uncover. No mysteries to unfold. You are a thousand questions and a million truths just out of my reach.”