Author(s): Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Karen Harbaugh, and Barbara Samuel
Contains: Four short stories
Notes and Thoughts:
"The Dragon and the Virgin Princess" by Jo Beverley:
Princess Rozlinda is the longest standing SVP (Sacrificial Virgin Princess) in the record of her kingdom--seven years. Normally there are eight years between visits of the dragons from Dorn, who do not eat the SVP though some sacrifice is required. What happens when the dragon comes a year early--and what happens when Rouar, a man of the enemy Dorn, claims her hand in marriage through an old tradition?
I really enjoyed this story. Though short, the world building is rather well done, and I liked the characters and the way they evolved a little. Even the little mystery involved was resolved to satisfaction at the end. The only drawback for me was the occasional use of very modern slang/informal words.
"The Dragon and the Dark Knight" by Mary Jo Putney:
Sir Kenrick of Rathbourne made his life as a knight, never earning quite enough to claim land of his own and therefore a bride he could fetch with his own land. Faced with the approaching winter, his squire tells him that Lord William of Penruth is hiring knights in an effort to rid his lands of a marauding dragon. But the dragon is not all he is reported to be, and neither is the maiden residing upon the dragon's island. Can Kenrick, with the help of the dragon Magnus and Ariane, set everything to rights?
This was an engaging story with a different slant on dragons and a strong character in Kenrick. Some of the backstory was cliched but overall I liked it quite well. I would take a Kenrick any day!
"Anna and the King of Dragons" by Karen Harbaugh:
Anna Vanderzee's parents have just died, leaving her, a Dutch girl, stranded, alone, in Japan in 1650. The practical sort of girl, Anna starts making a plan to get back home, but she doesn't calculate meeting a dragon in a pool, or the help she gets from him. Nor does she calculate on meeting the highborn samurai, Nakagawa Toshiro, whose clan protects the area she is in. As her plans move forward, she spends more time with Nakagawa-sama, finding him both mysterious and a good companion. Her plans do move forward, however, though she honors her obligations to the dragon as well as to her protector. But is going home what her heart truly wants?
This was perhaps my favourite story in the entire collection, only rivaled by the first story. The setting was keenly rendered and I really did love the characters. My only disappointment was the ending, though it ended well, it was just a little bit abrupt. Definitely one I'll come back to revisit from time to time!
"Dragon Feathers" by Barbara Samuel:
Penny Freeman, famous quilter and now widow, decides to change her life by moving to Santa Fe, where the esteemed weaver Senora Maria Lebelula has consented to take her on as a pupil. Penny finds a house for herself, near the Senora's house, and starts a new life for herself. But the house is full of surprises--beautiful if odd feathers and a smell that is quite attractive. The senora's son, Joaquin, is another surprise--a very handsome and alluring one, at that. The feathers and the man are a mystery that unfolds in dangerous turns Penny could never have expected.
This was the weakest story of the bunch. The premise is great, but I believe it could have been much better executed. In the end, some of it felt quite trite, though it's enjoyable enough, I suppose.
Rating: 6 / 10, as the first three stories were definitely worth reading.
This was quite a find, considering I found it at a flea market for only $1! I do recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good romance with dragons invovled!