I Dream of Dragons
Paranormal romance doesn’t have to be serious but I expect an author to take their work seriously. I Dream of Dragons never claims to be a dark and brooding story about dragons considering its too cute title; however the humor and the character quirks intended to keep the atmosphere light all fell flat. Add to that mix an overwhelming number of secondary characters and what you get is a disjointed mess that barely qualifies as a romance.
Along with the other supernatural creatures of Ireland, The Arish clan of dragon shifters has made their home peacefully in the town of Ballyhoo for thousands of years. Rory Arish and his two sisters are full members of the community, playing music at the local pub, keeping close friendships with some of the locals, and generally enjoying life to the fullest. Their carefree lifestyle is suddenly interrupted when one of the local leprechauns loses his pot of gold and suspicion turns immediately to the dragons. Without so much as an investigation into the missing gold the Arish siblings are banished from Ireland along with their possessions. The leprechauns use their magic to block the siblings from returning until the gold is found. To protect his sisters Rory makes the choice to travel on to America hoping they can blend in with the large Irish community of Boston, a city well known in supernatural circles as being welcoming to creatures of all kinds.
Of course the humans living in Boston have no idea that they’re living side by side with creatures out of myth or legend. Amber McNally is one of them, perfectly mortal, making a living as a flight attendant and licking her wounds after a brutal break-up with her slimy ex. Working her last flight before an extended break, Amber is surprised when a passenger seems to be watching her extra closely as she goes about her tasks. After landing she runs into this same passenger in the airport restroom. Their conversation changes from polite small talk to something a lot more puzzling when a second woman appears and takes the same focused interest in Amber. Confused by the whole encounter, Amber goes back to her apartment only to find she’s being evicted so the building can go condo. Things go from strange and upsetting to completely mental when the second woman from the airport suddenly appears in the apartment and introduces herself as Mother Nature. It seems that Amber has all the qualifications to become a modern-day Muse, specifically the Muse of Air Travel, and the job is hers if she wants it.
Skeptical of an offer presented by an overbearing goddess with a warped sense of humor, Amber takes her time to accept the job but does accept Mother Nature’s suggestion about a new place to live. She meets with a co-manager of a large apartment building on Beacon Street that seems full of colorful neighbors. The one bedroom apartment she’s shown is perfect for a single woman and best of all, it’s immediately available! Unfortunately the ink on her deposit check is barely dry before more complications are thrown at her. The other manager of the building also promised the apartment to someone and they’re just as motivated to move in immediately. When the managers can’t decide who has the best claim on the space they suggest that “Possession is 9/10th of the law” and whomever remains in the apartment longest without leaving gets to keep it.
As bizarre as the arrangement is, Amber suddenly finds herself co-habiting with sexy Irishman Rory Arish who matches her in both wits and stubbornness. Learning how to be a Muse and fighting off her attraction to her roommate makes life for Amber as unusual as the neighbors who all seem to be hiding something.
I Dream of Dragons has the potential to be a cute story about Girl Meets Dragon but it keeps getting weighed down by all the supernatural elements. The apartment building Amber and Rory move into is populated with all manner of creatures like vampires, witches, ghosts and shifters. To better explain to a reader how so many supernaturals have come to live in one place, the pace of the story gets slowed down with large info-dumps. At times a reader could use a flow chart to understand the varied relationships and magical beings that populate Boston or cross paths with Rory and Amber. The introduction of Mother Nature and her modern-day Muses was completely mishandled, more confusing than entertaining and with a lot of throwbacks to an earlier series by the author. Considering that becoming a Muse is a major element to Amber’s character I think this is where things should have been slowed down a bit rather than when we meet all the residents of the building. As each new neighbor, Muse, leprechaun or other side character is brought into Rory and Amber’s story it takes away from their development and the problems they’re facing.
The time between Rory and Amber’s inauspicious meeting and their falling in love with each other is filled with so much nonsense that I couldn’t believe in their relationship. They switch from being opponents to friends to something more intimate within a manner of days and all without either of them really revealing much about themselves. This lack of communication is due to a fundamental rule of the paranormal world; they are forbidden to talk about it for fear of revealing too much to the mundane world. This excuse for their discussion deficiency was a crutch used by the author to manufacture tension. Without that secrecy adding dimension to their conversations I could almost argue that Rory and Amber are completely flat characters within their own storyline. Everything happens around them but with the exception of Amber’s elevation from mortal to minor goddess, they don’t change or grow a lot from their experience.
While I Dream of Dragons is technically the first book of Ashlyn Chase’s new Boston Dragons series it reads more like book seven of a greater Boston Paranormal world. A new reader will get enough explanation in this story to understand the basics but there will still be a learning curve about who’s who and how everything fits in the larger picture. For me, I’m willing to forgive the confusion of piecing together back stories if the central characters and their romance are treated as the main element of the book. Unfortunately I didn’t get that sense while reading so in the end I was disappointed with too much of the book to be able to recommend it.