Book Review : Dragon Bound

Book Review : Dragon BoundDragon Bound (Elder Races, #1) by Thea Harrison
Published by Berkley on May 3rd 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 338
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Alternate Cover Edition can be found here
Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.
As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.
Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.

Any romance book with a dragon is an automatic read for me. So when I saw Dragon Bound was on sale for $2.99 on the Kindle, I snapped it up. Sadly, I was disappointed. I really couldn’t stand the similar troubles that plague Dragon Bound and many other paranormal romances–a severely unlikable, possessive male lead, instant lust/love between the characters, a special, but weak damsel constantly in distress that needs saving by her man, constant assurances that even though the main guy is a monster he does it because he *has feelings* for the main female. Will I ever read a paranormal romance novel where the main heroine can take care of herself? Oh wait, I have, it’s Illona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. If only it were about Dragons and not werelions.


“After a long nightmarish week, she had just committed the crime. She had stolen from one of the most dangerous creatures on Earth, a creature so frightening that just imagining him was more scariness than she ever wanted to meet in real life.”

I had hoped that like Kate Daniels, Dragon Bound’s Pia Giovanni would be a veritable badass. After all, the novel begins with her stealing from arguably the most powerful Wyr in the existence of Wyrmkind–the dragon named Dragos Cuelebre. (Honestly my first hint about how little I would enjoy this book should have been that the Dragon was unimaginatively named Dragos, of all things). Instead, Pia finds herself smitten with the dragon shifter who wants to kill her from stealing a penny from his hoard–petty, much? The two of course, fall in instant lust, despite his predisposition to killing her, which is forgotten in the face of his overwhelming attraction to her, his special snowflake. 


“‘He held up a finger. ‘First, you’re the only one who’s ever successfully stolen from me.’ He held up another finger. ‘Second, I am not a forgiving creature. In fact, you’re the only one I’ve ever forgiven before.’ He put up a third finger. ‘And third, I like vengeance. I’m looking forward to ripping apart the person who gave you that charm and who ended up with my penny.’”


Pia has mysterious powers that allow her to heal with her blood (insert burn my blood trope here) and open any locks and Dragos is determined to figure out what type of Wyr she really is. Despite being a centuries old being, apparently Pia is the only creature in existence that does not bore Dragos–this is probably because she’s constantly getting herself kidnapped, maimed, threatened, etc. Apparently a dragon loves to feel needed and strong.


“’I think you’re my hero,’ she said. Only half kidding. He stared at her, the picture of incredulity.

 ‘Most people,’ he said, ‘think I am a very bad man.’ She studied his eyes to try to find out if that bothered him. He didn’t seem bothered by it. He seemed discomfited by her. 

‘Well,’ she said at last, ‘maybe you’re a very good dragon.’


The problem is that Dragos never quite feels like a dragon to me throughout the entirety of Dragon Bound–he just feels like a bad man. Yes, he’s rich, incredibly jealous and possessive–I should have counted how many times he utters the words “you’re mine”–admits to having a past of eating humans, and has a secret hoard of treasure that makes everyone on the planet jealous.  Despite his shifting and roaring, Dragos just feels like your typical toxic romance novel male that sees his girlfriend as something to be owned–it heavily reminded me of The Smoke Thief. This is discussed in great detail in Dragon Bound to try to constantly reassure the reader that Pia wants to be in this god-awful relationship.  Given that the author establishes that Pia has only had one other relationship due to her secret Power, (and that ex-boyfriend blackmailed her and ended up dead), and that she’s incredibly lonely since the death of her worshiped-by-everyone mother, it all feels like a centuries old being taking advantage of an vulnerable and naive woman. 


“‘Yes, that.’ The words started tumbling out of her. ‘We’ve known each other a matter of days, and he’s taken over my life. He demands I trust him, claims that I’m his, like I’m some piece of property. He doesn’t even know what I am and it’s driving him crazy.’”


Plus the entirety of their romance escalates at a bewildering speed, something even Pia recognizes on multiple occasions–even though she makes no attempts to alter the relationship. Pia steals from Dragos, is almost killed by him, is kidnapped by him, rescued by him, brought home by him to his Penthouse, has sex with him, becomes his Mate, and is impregnated by him in a mere week. As a fan of a slow burn relationship, this was pretty much my worst nightmare. They don’t even know each other! And their relationship is fraught with misunderstandings from every standpoint possible. Dragos is a carnivore, Pia is a herbivore, Dragos is a centuries old dragon with years of experience and Pia has never had a successful relationship, Dragos is monstrously wealthy and Pia has 30 dollars in her checking account, Dragos’s Power is infamous and feared while Pia has trained her who life to disappear at the drop of the hat to prevent people from finding out what she is. It’s a disaster. 


“‘I want you to tell me what and who you are, not just because I want to know but because you want to tell me.’ 

‘Why?’ she whispered. ‘Because you’re mine,’ he snapped. ‘I’m not just a possession, like you’d own a lamp.’  She pulled back and glared at him. He just looked back at her, face hard and eyes unapologetic. She sighed. ‘I guess that’s the possessive and territorial bit, isn’t it? You know, I don’t want to fight with you.’

 Like any efficient predator, he scented weakness and acted on it. ‘Then don’t,’ he said. He gave her a coaxing smile. ‘Just give me everything I want.’”


The entire time I was reading Dragon Bound, I felt guilty, like I was somehow contributing to the fall of feminism just from reading the novel.  I felt like someone needed to rescue Pia not only from Dragos, but also from herself. As a result of these feelings, most of the banter between the two romantic leads and attempts at humor fell ridiculously flat for me. I also couldn’t bear to read any of the intimate scenes between Pia and Dragos because it just felt so wrong the entire time. I couldn’t stop seeing Pia as a victim and Dragos as a preternatural manipulator. I think it’s definitely worth noting that there is a fundamental challenge in writing and establishing a male lead who’s simultaneously a believable powerful, centuries old predator and making him a decent boyfriend and person. Sadly, Dragon Unbound does not succeed at doing either of those things successfully. 


Though I didn’t find the romance to be at all something I could support–kind of important in a romance novel–I did think the world-building in Dragon Bound was pretty interesting. I liked the idea of Wyr, Elder Races, and powerful creatures like Faeries and Dragons living in a skyscraper in New York City with a hierarchy and all. I also found the mystery surrounding Pia’s Wyr identity to be very interesting–until her true nature was actually revealed. View Spoiler » Perhaps in the future novels of the series, Pia will come more into her own Power and the series will expand more on the interesting hierarchy and world-building, but I don’t intend to find out unless I can find them for a steal.


Ultimately if you love paranormal romance novels, especially with dragons and all types of supernatural creatures, you might really enjoy Dragon Bound. To those who seek more assertive heroines who can exist without having a man to give them a reason for living and to protect them, look elsewhere.

Book Review : Dragon Bound - Blogging with Dragons

Posted March 8, 2020 in Book Reviews, Romance

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