Fire and Valor: The Prince’s Dragon – W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns
The last place Lord Tristram Radcliffe ever expected to find himself was right hand to the Llangardian throne. His parentage should have seen him banished, but he managed to keep his draconic secret. Now, King Reynold is dead. Long live King Roland.
The boy ascends to rule a kingdom in chaos, and Tristram must undo the damage of the last king’s reign to save his people from lean winter and wolves in the palace itself. Reynold’s former shadow, Bet Kyston, is determined to root out King Roland’s enemies, but his version of help may cause as much harm as good.
There remains a traitor near to the throne, and when the king falls mysteriously ill, Tristram’s strongest ally is forced to leave court. As his enemies move closer, the strength of Tristram’s regency is more precarious than ever. Abandoned and friendless, Tristram must sacrifice everything to protect his homeland or risk not only Roland’s life, but his own.
The story picks up immediately after the events of The King’s Dragon. The new king, Roland, was poisoned and now lies in his sick bed. The Regent, Lord Tristram Radcliff, with help from his lover, Bet Kyston, does his best to balance court duties and going toe to toe with traitorous Cavendish relatives hungry for power.
Meanwhile dragons are attacking dragons and holding captives. Among those captured was the young dragon Hafgan. The summer clan suffered severe losses, and are moving south to somewhere near the court. (I have no idea how to spell the names of places since I’m audiobooking this so I will not attempt)
The book is still in multiple POVs, with new ones introduced. Now that I am familiar with the Fire and Valor world, the shift in POVs didn’t hinder anymore. I was able to focus more on the narrative and enjoy the tale as it unfolds.
This time, the different POVs worked better at giving us the bigger picture and a more detailed look at the world, especially outside the court, connecting different faraway characters.
Lord Regent Tristam Radcliff – not interested in the throne, never will be now that he knows first hand what a headache it is to run a kingdom. But as the only person King Roland trusts to be his proxy, Tris takes his duties to heart and will defend king and Llandgard, and a certain half-elf, to death. His big scene in the ending was BAM!
Bet Kyston – ninja elf, a.k.a. assassin, a.k.a. king’s shadow, became my favorite character here. I felt sorry for how he was abandoned by his mother. I loved how his character grew. Bet has no problems sticking a knife to whoever hurt the boy king, legalities be damned. That he loves sticking things in the lord regent, is an ongoing bet in knightly circles.
Rhiannon – currently healing in the special pool in the monastery. The fierce dragon is surprisingly shy, or is it vain, to show herself to Sidone while she’s recuperating. Struck a bargain with Princess Gillian while there. I’d love to see Rhiannon in battle once more.
Sir Sidone – this knight stuck with her lady through thick and thin. Not much going on with her in this installment, but I’d love to see her in action in the future astride her dragon because that would be so cool!
Bowen – a grizzled old stone dragon forced to sell his fellow dragons to slavery. That his hoard is pretty delicate flowers might be a sign that his tough exterior hides a marshmallow heart.
Hafgan – our sweet sunshine dragon who might just win the heart of an old warrior like Bowen.
Lady Elinor – Tris’s beloved mom is in for a surprise reunion with a long lost love, who is a mild-mannered bookworm, or should I say, bookdragon.
Princess Gillian – learned more magic and found romance outside the castle walls. I’m counting on her for spectacular displays of magic. It’s unfortunate that the plot is about lost magic so there’s barely any spells here. Gillian on the tower protecting the city is the most we got.
Maddox – was pretty surly at first, but this summer dragon turned out to be a great love interest for the princess. His internal thoughts, a.k.a. grudges with Tristram, whom he has yet to meet, were amusing. Turns out they got along splendidly.
Dragon – a cinnamon roll dragon in captivity. Rescue this sweet little soul now!
This series gets better with each installment. The pace here is faster, the tension is tighter, and overall, more dynamic as new secrets are revealed and various groups are in motion, either as enemies, fugitives or rescuers.
Woven through the already potent mix of court politics and dragon action are the romantic threads that give us more things to get hooked on. And there’s something for everyone. The main couple are Tristram and Bet, and their romance is giving me LIFE! Rhiannon and Sidone took theirs to another level. Gillian and Maddox are fantastic together after their initial antagonistic encounter.
Overall, Fire and Valor hit its stride with The Prince’s Dragon. It had me in its grip from beginning to end. The intrigue, the romance, the adventure, this is more than just slow burn magic. This is a thrilling dragon ride!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Fire and Valor should be read in order. Witness royals come and go, and dragons in and out of scales in The King’s Dragon.
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of The Prince’s Dragon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
Fire and Valor: The King’s Dragon – W.M Fawkes & Sam Burns
Lord Tristram Radcliffe has a secret—he is the only dragon at the king’s court in Llangard. It’s a secret he’s kept from the knights he’s fought beside, from the ladies who bat their lashes at him, and from his closest companion, Prince Reynold. If it were to get out, he’d be banished to the Mawrcraig Mountains along with the rest of his kind, but the kingdom of men is the only one he’s ever known, and his heart lives in the stone halls of those who’d count him an enemy.
When the old king dies and Prince Reynold takes the throne, two visitors from the north throw Tristram into the middle of the ancient conflict between dragons and men. They put him on a collision course with the king’s shadow, Bet Kyston, a dangerous assassin who may want him dead or may want more of Tristram that he’d ever thought to give.
With the eyes of dragons upon him and a threat from the north creeping toward the home he loves, Tristram must weigh his allegiances before his dual legacies tear him apart.
As a lazy reader, high fantasy books are challenging for me, particularly the world-building. I am not keen on reading info-dumps about grimy taverns, the default euro-centric medieval settings, nor am I impressed with knights in their clunky tin can armors. The magic, though, is always fun!
So it was no surprise that I struggled with The King’s Dragon, Book 1 of Fire and Valor by writer duo W.M. Fawkes and Sam Burns. But then, the book slowly but surely entangled me in its gripping plot, awesome characters, and daring rescue missions.
The plot is a very intriguing blend of kingdom politics, lost magic, family drama, and, of course, dragons! A dead king just buried, a new king celebrating in a kingdom once filled with magic, but now, the only royal magician and sister to the king, Princess Gillian, can barely perform a spell.
It’s a particularly precarious situation for the kingdom of Llandgard, whose enemies from the north might be making a move. These enemies are stopped only by the dragons in the mountains, the dragons who once enslaved humans, the dragons the king and his people reviled and banished through magic. Unknown to them, dragons are currently in their midst during the celebrations.
The story is paced too slow for me. It is in multiple POVs, a whomping seven on my count. It took a while for me to get the lay of the land. I got whiplash, shifting from one POV to another, never knowing which character you’ll get next. This further slowed the narrative for me.
So it’s lucky that the authors picked the perfect narrators for their series because they kept me engaged. Greg Boudreaux is always a pleasure to listen to, and new-to-me narrator Lessa Lamb played the enchanting females perfectly with her Disney princess voices.
Another plus, is that the world-building didn’t drag or info-dumped too much. It is a medieval Euro-centric setting with none of the religious fanaticism, with equal opportunities for anyone, and lots of queer characters.
Halfway, I became fully invested. Everything slowly came together. The pace finally picked up as the thrilling buildup set several things in motion all at once, leading to the explosive climatic scene. I loved how the ending resolved things satisfyingly while also dropping me off a cliff so suddenly I was left with my mouth hanging open.
This series has an ensemble cast and they each stand out.
Lord Tristram Radcliffe – knight and cousin to King Reynold. Rumored to be a bastard, secretly a half-dragon, hoards pointy objects, notices the king’s shadow, Bet, far too much for his liking. Righteous, loyal and conscientious especially about his duty to Llandgard. Basically Captain America, knight version.
Bennet Kyston – an open secret known as the king’s shadow a.k.a. assassin a.k.a. doer of dirty deeds. Agile, deadly, and loyal to King Reynold who gave him a home. Secretly crushes hard on Tristram but knowing he’s too low-born for such noble knight, could only look and not touch.
King Reynold – the new king celebrating the start of his reign with a party and tournament. Seemed okay at the start but later was acting a little too paranoid and cruel for anyone’s liking. A hint was thrown casually as to why this is that will be picked up in later installments.
Sir Sidonie – a high-ranking knight in the king’s guard, she was from a peasant family but rose in ranks through skills and hard-work. A friend to Tristram and just as loyal to the king, she couldn’t help noticing the new Lady Rhiannon who’s lavishing her considerable charms on the king
Lady Rhiannon – a lady on a mission and a dragon with a plan. She came to court with her foster son, Hafgan, to change the king’s mind about dragons. She might flirt with the king, but a certain female knight is more to her taste.
Princess Gillian – sister to the new king and the only Cavendish left with magic. She has no interest in the throne and Reynold crowned gave her freedom. She is Tris’s friend and one of the few who knew his secret. The tumultuous court events led her outside the castle walls and I am excited to see where her adventures take her.
Hafgan – a young dragon whose entire clan was wiped out. Rhiannon found his egg and claimed him as her own ever since. Didn’t play too much role in the story but I expect bigger things from him in the following books.
Prince Roland – the nine year old heir to the king who barely bothers with his son. Frequently overlooked and underestimated, Roland plays his cards close to his sleeves and has some surprises of his own that might shock his father. He considers Tristram and Bet as the only people in court who acknowledges him as a person.
I always say this, it’s a testament to the authors’ characterization that I could name their side characters. The main couple here is Tristram and Bet. These two played their intense enemies-to-lovers game so deliciously! Usually, they would be all I care about, but I remember the supporting cast quite well.
Rhiannon and Sidonie’s romance blossomed parallel to the main romance. These two were a breath of fresh air in the dank atmosphere of royal madness and paranoia. They have the most bombastic escape scene! Hoping for more of these badass women in the next books.
The King’s Dragon deftly wove multiple POVs, twist and turns, secrets and lies, magic and dragons, knights and assassins, and a royal family fighting for their legacy and future. It’s slow-burn magic from two skilled authors. Before I knew it, I went from meh to HELL YEAH!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of The King’s Dragon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
Mytho: Lust and Other Drugs – T.J. Nichols
Police officer Jordan and dragon shifter Edra might have to work together, but they don’t trust each other—even if sparks do fly between them.
If anyone finds out Jordan’s a mytho sympathizer, it could kill his career. No one can know that he frequents the satyr dens and uses the drug Bliss. A dead satyr might not get much attention, but two dead humans who appeared to overdose on Bliss? That shouldn’t even be possible.
And it might not be an accident.
Edra, the Mythological Services Liaison, has been covering up mytho crimes to protect the community’s reputation. With a mayoral election looming, the last thing his people need is a scandal.
To get a murderer off the streets, Jordan and Edra will be spending a lot of time together, and it won’t be easy to keep up with their deceptions… or to keep resisting each other.
Book 1 in the gay urban fantasy series that follows Jordan and Edra as they solve crime and figure out how to improve Mytho and human relations. For readers who like dragon shifters and forbidden romance.
Lust and Other Drugs is the first book of Mytho Investigations and my first book by T.J. Nichols. It’s part dragon shifter romance, part police procedural, part commentary on humanity.
The book opens by explaining how mythological creatures, a.k.a. mythos, came to be in our world. The mythos are from a world called Tariko which imploded into ours when physicists fucked up their hadron collider. At first, it was pure chaos, and then slowly, some European countries came to recognize creatures who can communicate as people and the mythos gradually integrated into society.
It’s been ten years since the collapse. In the US, some states and cities are mytho-friendly, and many are not. Jordan Kells lives in San Francisco, where the current mayor is anti-mytho, and many crimes against the mythos are swept under the rug. Jordan is the rare police officer who acknowledged mythos are people and he is determined to work their cases seriously.
A case involving satyrs and their infamous drug, Bliss, had him crossing paths with Edra Tendric, a.k.a. Knight Tendric, the mytho liaison. Edra piqued my interest immediately. At first blush, he’s nothing more than a glorified social worker, helping mythos integrate, find schools and jobs, and help them with their cases.
The mythos greatly respect Edra. They call him by his title, Knight. And he really is a knight! He’s no longer allowed to carry a sword, which is a pity because he would cut a fine figure in complete regalia. Apparently knights can do lots of things, from protecting dragons, making sure people follow the rules to super secret black ops missions.
The world-building here could be info-dumpy. Understandable as many things needed to be explained, from satyr culture to what happened to Atlantis to Edra’s backstory. It’s a fantastic world to get lost in, the kind where you can create an infinite number of stories.
As much as I love the fantasy and lore, the circumstances surrounding the murder mystery was painful. The story showcased the worse side of humanity: the bigotry, xenophobia and violence towards those who are different. Some mythos could pass as humans, but some, like satyrs, were seen as nothing more than animals.
The story is in dual POV. In Edra’s POV, we see insights on mytho nature versus human nature, particularly religion, culture, and sex. The scenarios in the book reminded me a lot of what’s happening in some countries. There is even a side plot about the imminent election, and it’s a close fight between the pro and anti mytho mayoral candidates.
One key theme of the series is how no one cares about mytho cases, especially if the perp is human. And this is one fight Jordan refused to give up. Our boy set out to investigate the satyr deaths with everything he got. Sadly, said investigation and the conclusion of the case wasn’t well-executed. This is on the writing itself rather than on Jordan.
The scene that touched me the most was when it hit Edra that Jordan was indeed genuinely determined to get justice for the murdered satyr. Our dragon knight almost burst into tears. They, the mythos, matter to a human!
The romance was a slow-burn second chance, especially for Edra, who lost his mate in the collapse. It’s a good enough start, but my interest was more on Edra and Jordan doing their jobs and navigating the fragile trust they built with each other and the other human and mytho characters. Although, I am curious to see how they fare when their secret relationship becomes public, so I’ll be reading the rest of the series.
Lust and Other Drugs is a well-conceived urban fantasy. It’s a very fascinating world, even if it’s a troubled one, with intriguing characters I’d love to read more about. All in all, a tale worth a dragon knight’s loyalty!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Lust and Other Drugs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
Shifter Scoundrels: Dangerous – Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake
New Paranormal Romance from Bestselling MM Authors Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake.
A grumpy lion shifter duke with secrets, a sassy human who knows nothing of the shifter world, and a fiery arrangement neither of them expected.
Cormac Donegan, Duke of Everard, is all too familiar with the perils of his shifter world, especially as a Dahlia, one of the dragon king’s elite spies. After a mission nearly costs him his life, Cormac is sidelined, healing and grieving his heavy losses. Then a different kind of trouble shows up on his doorstep, a human claiming to be his fiancé.
When Jason Reaves is nearly killed in a house fire, it becomes clear that someone is trying to murder him. With his already fragile health deteriorating, Jason’s only hope is to call in the debt a stranger owes his father– a favor that promises safety, protection… and marriage.
Jason’s escape leads him and his service dog, Mouse, to an impressive country estate. He’s expecting the older man who’d made the promise, not his ruggedly handsome son–who happens to be a Duke, as in rich and royal.
Will this Cinderfella find his happily ever after in the arms of a dashing–if somewhat irritable–duke? Or will Cormac’s secrets prove to be more dangerous than the shifters hunting him?
Dangerous is the second installment of Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake‘s highly entertaining paranormal series, Shifter Scoundrels. After shocking the ton by bringing a human to the ball in Book 1, Notorious, the Duke of Everard, Cormac Donegan, and his fiance, Jason Reaves, set expectations high.
And they delivered!
The plot is an arranged marriage trope between the shifter duke and a human after a pledge by the old duke to Jason’s father years before. I have yet to experience the charms of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, but if comparisons between him and Cormac made Jason blush, well, I have to meet the guy ASAP.
Duke Everard is a black lion shifter whose bite is deadlier than his growl, and boy, does he love to growl. He’s secretly working as a spy, a member of the Dahlias, the king’s eyes, ears, and claws in the kingdom. He’s an honorable man and a stickler to duty. So much so that when a complete stranger showed up his doorstep claiming to be his fiance, with the old duke’s letter in hand promising protection, he was immediately determined to see it through.
Sad to say, Jason was my least favorite thing here. The man has to learn to shut up. His brand of sunshine and babble failed to charm me. His service dog Mouse, on the other hand, was adorable! Jason has Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and throughout the story, when his illness manifests, he requires Mouse’s aid as well as the duke’s and his staff.
But our boy is no damsel in distress. A very admirable thing about Jason is that he’s very good at keeping his head even under extreme pressure. He might hyperventilate and be hypertensive, but our boy can still strategize, helping Cormac in the key parts of his mission. And he won the hearts of the two deadliest Dahlias, Lady Alia and Lady Marmont(?), as well as the rest of society.
The book delves deeper into shifter world, looking at it through human eyes via the Cinder-fella trope. Cormac is the type who would spoil his beloved Jason rotten, so I wished the authors laid on the luxury and opulence thick. Also, the leap from friends to lovers happened too quickly. We are just told they spent some time together before taking the leap. I wished we were shown these scenes more.
My gripes aside, Dangerous is another one-sitter. The romance was sweet and heartwarming enough, but like Notorious, it’s the rest of the story and the cast that really made my day. And with storytelling that kept me glued to the book, this sequel is a worthy addition to the magical alt-Regency paranormal world.
The series over-arching thread overlaps with some events from Book 1. This is a very intriguing mystery of who is behind the murder of the prince. The crimes keep coming, but we barely have clues. I have sworn to see this through the end.
The supporting cast was a riot, and I loved seeing familiar faces helped saved the day. The plot had most of the action at the last part, and this was full on mayhem and chaos! Thrilling car chases, explosions, and Cormac with the swag of Colin Firth in suit and umbrella.
Overall, this story of dangerous dukes, sassy humans, and royal shenanigans is well-written, fast-paced, snarky, and super fun! Definitely the talk of the town!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Beau’s book is next!
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Dangerous. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.