Legend of the Highland Dragon
Much as I love good, old-fashioned historical romance, I will admit that every once in a long while I tire of it. I long for something unusual. Sometimes my longing is satisfied simply by reading a contemporary romance. Sometimes I’m driven farther afield, and I look into the non-fiction section of my TBR pile. This month I opened up a paranormal historical romance, and found a very unusual and interesting story indeed.
Mina Seymour does not lead a terribly exciting life. She’s the personal secretary of one Professor Carter, making good money and doing her part to support her large family, when Legend of the Highland Dragon begins. Unfortunately, Mina’s peaceful life comes to an abrupt end when Stephen MacAlasdair walks into her office, demanding to see Professor Carter. One glance at Stephen tells her quite clearly that he brings trouble, and when Professor Carter appears ashen-faced and distressed after his meeting with Stephen, Mina is convinced that something is amiss.
Loyal as she is to Professor Carter, Mina decides she must look into whatever trouble Stephen MacAlasdair has brought. She begins by meeting up with Stephen’s cook, Mrs. Hennings, for a chat, where she’s quickly caught up on all the gossip surrounding Laird MacAlasdair. Rumor has it he’s a murderer or worse, but Mrs. Hennings maintains that the strangest thing about his lordship is the fact that he gives the entire staff two hours off every night, demanding that they all leave his house during that time. Mrs. Hennings has a bad leg and thus is still around in the kitchen when Mina arrives for their chat.
Unfortunately, their gossip session is cut short when a strange ghost-like creature appears in the kitchen. It quickly attacks Mrs. Hennings and knocks her out, then begins making its way toward Mina. Fearing for her life, Mina flees into the rest of the house.
It is there that she discovers a dragon.
Happily, this dragon is, in fact, Stephen MacAlasdair. He quickly kills the strange creature, then transforms back into his human self. The damage is done, however. Mina has discovered his secret, and he cannot in good conscious let her return to her normal life, for fear that she might say something about him to someone. There’s also the pesky problem of the ghost-like creature, which was sent by one of Stephen and Professor Carter’s old enemies. As Mina is now thoroughly embroiled in his problems, Stephen decides the best thing to do would be to hire Mina as his personal secretary until he can neutralize the threat to his and Professor Carter’s lives. Carter is not a dragon, and thus is not as well equipped to protect Mina or handle Cristopher Ward (their enemy who has developed a taste for the Dark Arts.)
Mina, of course, is none too thrilled with Stephen’s idea. She’s a feisty, vibrant young woman who takes her life and loyalties very seriously. However, Stephen convinces her in the end (with the aid of logic and a substantial amount of money) that she really ought to sign on as his secretary until Christopher Ward is dealt with. Mina, being Mina, demands to take part in the hunt for Ward, and so the games begin.
I quite enjoyed both Mina and Stephen as characters. Mina, as I said, is a take-no-nonsense sort of person. She’s sensible and opinionated, and she never wastes and chance to prove Stephen wrong. Stephen, being a few hundred years old, has gotten set in his ways. It’s fun indeed to see him so surprised and enchanted by Mina.
The paranormal aspect of this book also very much intrigued me. Stephen was, in his own words, “born with two shapes in his blood,” whereas Mina has only one. Presumably this means that there are other types of shape-shifters around in the world Ms. Cooper has created, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. I also could not tell you everything there is to know about dragons, as information about them was not exactly plentiful in this book. Yes, they live for hundreds of years. Yes, some do occasionally get caught in one shape or another. Yes, they can marry humans, on occasion. No, I don’t have any details on what dragon society looks like.
I still can’t decide if this lack of information is a good or a bad thing, however. I did feel a little cheated while reading the book, because I felt sometimes that I was missing out on something due to my lack of knowledge. On the flip side, now that I’m done with this book I want to run out to the nearest Barnes & Noble and search for its sequel, which hasn’t been released yet. I guess sometimes you just can’t win!