Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dragon Rose

Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms, #1)Dragon Rose by Christine Pope
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Dragon Rose, but I did come out of it feeling like I was a little led-on by a synopsis that sounded darker and more exciting than the story actually turned out to be. The blurb on the back isn't misleading at all, it's just that the meat of the story doesn't really start happening until the last 15-20% of the novel. The first 80% features an optimistic Rhyanne adjusting to her new life at Black's Keep.

Between Pope's beautiful world building and an irresistibly compelling storyline, I struggled to put down the novel in the beginning. But after awhile, the story started to get a little tedious and repetitive. Every day seemed to feature the same events for Rhyanne: Wake up, choose in detail what dress to wear, eat breakfast, paint, eat lunch, paint some more, eat dinner with Theron, experience disturbing dreams at night, rinse and repeat. If there was some progression between her and Theron, either emotionally or physically, that would have lent itself to a more engrossing story. But she and her cursed husband never move forward in their relationship until the very end. I'm a huge fan of slow-burning romances, but when it's this agonizingly slow it's not much more exciting than watching grass grow.

I was really craving more from Theron. In some ways I liked his gentleness, but he was almost too mild-mannered and passive. I felt like Pope was playing it too safe with his character. Sometimes Theron's politeness bordered on dull indifference. (view spoiler) Plus his lack of involvement in Rhyanne's daily activities made for a lot of missed opportunities from the reader's point of view. It would have been awesome to have Theron find Rhyanne at the graveyard and witness that whole volatile exchange. Or for Theron to follow Rhyanne to the previous bride's chamber and flounder to explain why that bride wrote down such chilling words. Shoot, it would have been awesome to have Theron burst into Rhyanne's chamber even once in the story just because he couldn't stop thinking about her. By the end of the novel it's clear why Theron kept Rhyanne at bay, but it's still frustrating, and in my opinion, unnecessary. The tension in the novel would have been much more heightened if Rhyanne had brought out the selfish parts of Theron. He was already "nice" with his other brides, Rhyanne should have been the one to drive him to madness and make him forego his altruistic motives. He should have demanded to spend more time with her and constantly tried to be closer to her, and then, knowing the costs, been tormented by his obsession. Ultimately, Theron does such a good job pretending not to care about Rhyanne that even now, having finished the book, I'm still convinced that he isn't overly interested in her.

Pope does a wonderful (though rushed) job of tying all loose ends by the end of the novel, which is something I greatly appreciate. And I really love Rhyanne's character, and Theron's, when you take out the mild-manneredness aspect. Overall I enjoyed the book a lot, hence the four stars and way-too-long-review (I only ramble like this when a book has left an impression on me). I just feel like the author missed some great opportunities to turn this novel from a good little read to an unforgettable one.

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