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Review: The Dragon’s Bride

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Please welcome new, part-time reviewer, Nissan Mama, aka “Nima.” She brings you today’s review. For more info about Nima, click HERE

The Dragon’s Bride
Author: Jo Beverley 
Release Date: August 2, 2011 (re-release)
Publisher: NAL
The Company of Rogues #7
ISBN: #978-0451233400
Genre: Historical Romance
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Con Somerford, Viscount Amleigh, is not pleased to have inherited the Earldom of Wyvern and the monstrous house that goes with it. He’s even less pleased when the first person he encounters there is Susan Kerslake with a pistol in her hands. Susan and he have a past, a bitter one. The years in between, however, have been years of war. That must, surely, have armed him so he can resist her, and deal with the smuggling with which she is clearly involved.
What Nima is talking about:
The Company of Rogues” is a band of twelve friends who met at Harrow School in their youth and bestowed this title upon themselves.  They came from different backgrounds and prided themselves as anti-bullies, “opposing oppression from all quarters.”  As I understand it, each book in this series is the romance of one of the Rogues, except two who died while on active military duty.  Other books in this series have been written as spin-offs utilizing the same Regency time period and background of established characters.
I preface my thoughts with the disclaimer that I have not read the previous six books in the series and this was the first work of Jo Beverley that I have ever read.  My first impression was that The Dragon’s Bride wasn’t bad.  It also wasn’t great.  It’s been my experience that as an author gets to know her characters and the rules of the world she creates well, either her writing improves with each book because she can build what she’s already written OR the writing slacks off, taking the reader for granted.  The Dragon’s Bride felt to me like the latter.  
In fact, this particular book read like a “B” movie of Hollywood’s Golden-Age.  I never mentally pictured a rich, layered countryside with a dark and brooding castle…I pictured Bing Crosby and Rhonda Flemming dressed up in modern fabrics and hairstyles, designed to look not historically accurate, but the way a modern audience would expect them to look, bowing to every stereotype.   How do you have multi-generational smugglers and rogues, but still make everyone friendly and nice about it??  The only true “bad guys” in this story are rival gangs who are little more than mentioned in passing.  I have to confess that I do like old B movies, but I can’t believe that’s what Beverly was setting out to accomplish.
Those of us discovering this series are coming late to the party.  The Dragon’s Bride was originally released in 2001 as book seven in The Company of Rogues series, although Beverley’s own website lists it as book six while clearly placing it in the seventh slot of fourteen on her book list.  This seems to be the kind of basic editing error that popped up throughout the book.  Small errors were distracting and required re-reading because they disrupted the flow of the story.  Signet Eclipse, under parent Penguin Company, has reissued The Dragon’s Bride this month, apparently without fixing the errors.  
Another oddity was Beverley’s use of random vocabulary words, almost as if she had a Word of the Day calendar sitting on her desk and she was trying to work the day’s word into the manuscript.  While technically accurate, it’s not often that you come across words like “chiaroscuro” and “concupiscent” in the narration of a romance.  Bing would never use those words.  

The one love scene tried to be explicit without being explicit.  All romances certainly don’t need to be detailed, but in this case, it failed at both.  The scene felt rushed, disjointed, and not especially romantic or passionate.  If you’ll excuse the pun, it didn’t quite rise as one of the climaxes of the book. 
Although this is a RITA finalist, I can’t get excited about it.  The Dragon’s Bride took its readers for granted.
Nimas Rating:
Finished it – take it or leave it (C)
  • Nice review. I admit I’ve never gotten past the covers on these books. They just don’t appeal to me.

  • I know, cheesy, right? I know the cover isn’t the author’s fault, but you’d think someone in marketing would bother to read the book.

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