Series: Dragon Lords #3
Published by Self Published Genres: SciFi
I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
A tormented dragon shifter encounters his greatest temptation in this sizzling new Dragon Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Kiersten Fay.
Aidan never intended to enter Phase Nine, a deadly race through the universe that had once cost him everything, but he’d made an impossible bargain. While gearing up for the challenge, he is surprised to find two extra crew members aboard his ship, one of them a mysterious female named Onnika who tempts him beyond reason.
Onnika’s special brand of magic has always been the key to her survival…and the reason she and her sister Caryn are constantly on the run. While escaping a ruthless band of outlaws bent on exploiting her powers, she entangles herself with a dangerously handsome dragon shifter named Aidan and an infamous race that could ultimately lead her home. With everything on the line, she must use every devious trick in her book to gain Aidan’s trust while concealing her true identity.
A scifi Amazing Race with a very interesting cast of characters.
Trusting anyone beside her sister has always been Onnika’s downfall. Every time she and her sister have shared their abilities with others, they have been turned into tools to gain riches, even going to far as to being sold to slavers for profit. Onnika and Caryn have vowed never to let anyone know that Onnika can tell what decisions someone has made nor that Caryn has the ability to chose the right path.
When they escape from the men holding them enslaved, what Onnika and Caryn want most is to find their way back to their home world, Evlon, a world kept hidden and off the galactic maps. They come upon ships about to leave on the Phase Nine race, they decide to join a crew since the Commission gives each of the racers detailed maps of the galaxy. They hope to steal one of these maps and find their way home to safety.
Caryn’s feelings lead them to the Dragoon but after Onnika realize the captain of the ship is the man whose purse she just stole, for the first time Onnika begins to question her sister’s ability to lead them true.
Captain Aiden Chase wants to get the trespassers off his ship as soon as possible but since they signed up as crew, he has to at least leave the starting line with them, but he is dumping them at the first planet. At least that was his plan, but Aiden isn’t so heartless as to dump them onto some of the more dangerous or deserted planets this race takes them. And before he can find somewhere suitable, his crew has become too attached to the sisters, everyone including himself. Onnika fights his decisions at every turn, but verbally sparring with her has raised his blood like nothing has done in way too long.
Onnika is the protector of her more shy sister, Caryn, but Onnika is brave to the point of reckless. She risks herself every time to protect her sister. Even after Aiden and Onnika admit their feelings for each other and she learns that losing his wife and child nearly broke Aiden, she still rushed into danger to protect her sister. I believe that the one place the author fails in this story is that in the final challenge after solidifying her relationship with Aiden, Onnika once again runs in to protect her sister and I think the relationship would have been better served if she had risked her life for Aiden rather than once again risking her life for her sister. In once again risking herself to protect Caryn, this simply proves that Aiden will always be second to Caryn in Onnika’s life. And knowing that once again losing someone else he loves would destroy Aiden, Onnika still risks her life to protect her sister. I think the author should have shown that Aiden meant as much to Onnika as her sister that she would not hesitate to risk her life to protect him as well.
The author’s note states that this is a “bridge” story between series. This story is a race through the stars but more of the excitement comes at the check points long the way where the contestants fight for vouchers to cut hours off the required docking periods. As this was my first book, I don’t know which characters we have met before but the secondary characters were well fleshed out as well as quirky and interesting. We had good character development, as well as very interesting secondary characters. I really like Onnika, who faced Aiden’s wrath fearlessly with a mixture of flirt and snark which always knocked him off balance but also winning his admiration. These stories might be interesting to check out.
Aiden shifts into his dragon form to get them a lead in a race for the vouchers they desperately need.
Mouth agape, head tilting back to take in the sight of him, all she could think was, He’s magnificant. Maybe she said it out loud, because in the next instant, he trained that cold, reptilian gaze on her.
Too late, she realized she should have asked if he remained cognitive in his dragon form, but she knew he’d never do anything to put her in danger, so it must be so. Still, apprehension fluttered through her belly.
She approached cautiously, extending her hand the way tone might do with a stranger’s pet.
He puffed and rolled his eyes, which made her laugh. Then he lowered his head and body flat on the ground as though to put her at ease. Her hand made contact with his massive snout. It was warm to the touch and had the consistency of textured leather. He held still, allowing her to explore his face and neck with trembling fingers. She had always imagined dragons had scales, and they did, but these scales were covered in a layer of soft, silky fur.
Next to his ear, she muttered, “You are so beautiful.”
He grunted as though insulted, and a poof of hot air shot from his nostrils.
“Oh, pardon me. I mean handsome. Is that better?”
He rolled his shoulders in what could be construed as a shrug. Then his head came around so that he could urge her onto his back with the tip of his snout.
“All right, all right, give me a second. It’s a lot to take in.” Leveraging herself on Aiden’s front leg, she climbed onto his back and settled her legs on either side of his lower neck. Not surprisingly, they had gathered a crowd. Some people cowered behind booths and tables. Others stood frozen in befuddled awe.
As soon as she was securely in place, his great wings unfolded from around his body and began to flap. The motion blasted a current of air over her, whipping her hair. She gripped the ridges of his spine with white-knuckled fingers, feeling the first spark of reservation as adrenalin coated her system But there was no time to entertain doubts. Aiden’s wings churned harder, and she felt him push off hard against the ground. Then they were rising and moving through the air with greater and greater speed. The arena was quickly left behind, the jungle now passing beneath them. As they soared, Aidan’s spine rolled along with the flapping of his wings, but it was an easy, fluid motion that she adapted to swiftly.
Through the thick jungle below, she caught glimpses of their competitors’ vehicles vying to pass each other.
Suddenly Aiden banked right, heading away from the mountaintop.
“Where are you going?”
Of course he didn’t answer. Onnika peeked ahead to see the marsh below. She caught sight of the suspicious dark spot under the water. If that conspicuously shaded area was anything to go by, the thing was huge and boasted three or more monstrous tentacles. When Aiden’s head sung around toward the shadow, he let out a great roar that vibrated his entire body. She felt it through to her bones. Apparently alarmed by the sound of an even larger predator, the other creature slithered away in the opposite direction, deeper into the marsh.
Onnika laughed. “You just had to show off, didn’t you?” Maybe far fewer people would perish now, at least until the creature returned.
Aiden glided for a moment, swaying this way and that, and she suspected he was enjoying himself. She was, too, hardly caring that they were in the middle of a race. He took her up to the cloud line and she put her hand out. Amorphous wisps shifted through her fingers. The world from up here, flying so freely, with no noise, no worries, nothing but her and Aidan, felt exhilarating.
Regretfully, she called out to him. “Remember, we have a race to win.”
He chuffed out a sigh, and she felt like a wet blanket. He banked to the left, finally heading toward the mountaintop. It took only a minute to reach it. There was still no sign of the other contestants. She couldn’t even hear their vehicles.
Aidan made a feather-light landing. Quickly she slid off his back and approached the egg, keeping her eyes on the sky. There was no sign of that bird.
The egg had been returned to the pedestal, sparking in the light. She had assumed it would be made up of glittering stones. Instead the shell was painted in brightly colored jewel tones and wasn’t quite smooth, but roughly textured by many small facets that caught and reflected the sun. Still, it was a beautiful thing to behold.
The instant she lifted it off its platform, a screech erupted from deep in the jungle. The bird shot into the air from behind a nearby tree line and dove for her, and she realized it was just as enormous as Aidan, and probably just as deadly.
Aidan was quick to place his big reptilian body between them as he let out a terrifyingly loud roar. Onnika felt certain they could hear the raucous sound back at the café.
The bird squawked in surprise and lost its coordination, trying to back track into the air with wings that suddenly moved out of sync before it managed a midair turn and soared away…but not for long. It quickly circled back and shot toward Aidan, its razor-sharp talons bared.
Aiden’s lips pulled back, revealing his fangs, looking ready to do battle. The thought of him possibly getting hurt sent icy terror up Onnika’s spine.
But she saw another option, and she had no time to doubt herself.
With the egg tucked under her arm,, Onnika raced toward the cliff. Putting two fingers between her lips, she let out a high-pitched whistle. “Aiden! Catch me!” Then she left off the edge and felt herself falling…falling…