I first looked at Dragon Rose by Christine Pope on audible.com because it’s beautiful cover caught my attention (rather ironic considering the story topic). The next thing that intrigued me is that it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling, which is awesome because it’s one of my favorite fairy tails. The third thing that intrigued me is that the beast is a dragon. Cool! Solving a curse involving a dragon sounds exciting to me. The funny thing is that I didn’t expect the story to be more romance than fantasy, which is rather silly on my part considering that Beauty and the Beast is essentially a romance. I just wasn’t thinking properly.
A WriterAlina Book Review
Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms Book 2)
Dragon Rose by Christine Pope
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms Book 2) was a nice, sweet story. I didn’t even realize that this was a book 2, it totally reads as a stand alone novel with it’s own beginning middle and end. My feeling is that the Tales of the Latter Kingdoms must be a series of stand alone books that have stories that occur in the same world.
The following summary is from goodreads.com:
The shadow of the cursed Dragon Lord has hung over the town of Lirinsholme for centuries, and no one ever knows when the Dragon will claim his next doomed Bride. Rhianne Menyon has dreams of being a painter, but her world changes forever when a single moment of sacrifice brings her to Black’s Keep as the Dragon’s latest Bride. As she attempts to adjust to her new life — and to know something of the monster who is now her husband — she begins to see that the curse is far crueler than she first believed. Unraveling the mystery of what happened to the Dragon’s Brides is only the beginning…
The Story and It’s Delivery
Dragon Rose is told in Rhianne’s first person perspective and has a lyrical, Jane Austen feeling language, very prim and proper. The musical and sometimes exasperated voice of the narrator pulls the reader into the story, and held my attention all the way through. Even though much of the story is more like telling rather than showing, it didn’t feel wrong; from the beginning, Dragon Rose is Rhianne telling her story. The descriptions are flowery and vivid, especially of the mysterious stranger that Rhianne paints from her dreams, giving the right amount of important descriptions mixed with feelings the reader wouldn’t know if the story wasn’t being told in first person.
The story itself was a bit slow, though the story progression and character challenges fit all the right schemes. When Rhianne stood in wait for the name of the Dragon’s bride to be chosen I had a bit of a Hunger Games moment. I wondered if she would be chosen outright or whether or not he’s sacrifice herself for her friend or her sister. But I was very happy that the outcome that was presented played different enough to be satisfying. I craved to know about the curse and the details of how it was to be solved and was reminded of Howl’s Moving Castle (where those under the curse were physically barred from discussing their curses), but how the characters dealt with discussing the curse felt more like “I don’t want to influence the actions of the bride.” rather than an inability to discuss it, which was a little disappointing. And there was more time spent on developing the relationship between Rhianne and Theran (the Dragon) than there was enacting, dealing with, or investigating the curse. The curse was broached tentatively a few times during the corse of the story, but didn’t really come into play until the story was almost over.
The climax was satisfying, even though it was a little abrupt. I wished that Rhianne’s search for how to break the curse could have taken up more of the story than it did, even though I enjoyed the fact that the workings of the curse was woven expertly into the actions of all the characters involved including Rhianne. I was intrigued in how the curse was broken and found it unique and natural but at the same time a little strange. Though it was unclear whether the curse was broken only by Rhianne or some interesting combination of both Rhianne and Theran. With the way that the curse was explained it seemed to me that Rhianne had already fulfilled her end of the deal half way through the novel, but it seemed that there had to be some sort of recognition from Theran’s part to allow the spell to be broken. I won’t say much more than that since I don’t want to spoil the end too severe.
As a teen I certainly would have liked this book with its beautiful descriptions and physical situations that left a lot to the imagination.
Dragon Rose’s main character, Rhianne, was intriguing as was Theran. Rhianne is spunky, willful, and questions everything though her reactions have been tempered by many scoldings by her mother. She’s brave, kind, and loves people for who they are. In fact, Rhianne is a very nice example of a “strong woman” who doesn’t have to kick someone’s ass in order to stand her ground or get what she wants. She’s clever and resourceful and her heart is open. These are all qualities that allow her to have the strength and wit to break the Dragon’s curse.
I loved Rhianne’s descriptions of Theran, physically mysterious but at the same time genteel and alluring. I enjoyed the cloak and hood with the endless dark shadow inside, it always kept me wondering what Theran looked like and I almost wanted there to be a moment to see him in his dragon form in front of Rhianne. It was kind of cool, the one time we actually got to see the transformation from dragon to man, and it had a Count Drakula feel to it with the dragons wings turning into Theran’s cloak. I kind of wanted to see more of that to instill more fear in the fact that Theran is a dragon and not a man. It happened only 2 times during the course of the story and it would have been even more challenging if it had happened more. But then I guess the story would have been longer than it was. Because Theran was so gentle, thoughtful, and curious toward Rhianne and had the look of someone who was mostly human it was easy to forget that Theran was a dragon.
Theran’s reactions to Rhianne’s fancies and her boldness felt natural and real. It was obvious that he had a caring soul and that he had been hurt deeply. Though the story was in Rhianne’s point-of-view Theran’s natural gentleness and caring nature came through as well has his own curiosity and firmness. It was one of the more well done male costars seen through the eyes of the female protagonist.
The world building in Dragon Rose is not very unique, which is totally fine. Honestly the real point is that the reader understand where the story is being told and what the rules of the land are. Both of these aspects of world building are well established and consistent throughout the story. This is still a horse and carriage society, most likely a society not all that different than that of a Jane Austen novel, but in this land there are hints of magic. Magic was rampant in the Latter Kingdoms and at one point in its history mages and wizards were killed and formal magic was mostly forgotten. Of course there are lingering traces of magic such as the Dragon himself and in the clairvoyant dreams Rhianne has on occasion.
A Word or Two About Romance
Even though this story takes place in a fantasy setting, this story is first and foremost a Romance. We spend much of the story in Rhianne’s mind worrying about how to avoid a suitor she doesn’t want, being haunted by a handsome man in her dreams, and struggling to decipher her feelings for her dragon husband. The romance is filled with yearning for things not understood and dreaming of kisses. Rhianna struggles with her desire to be a wife body and soul, but unable to reconcile the rejection due to being married to a dragon. Her heart and her feelings are strong and life with the Dragon is so different that she had imagined it would be.
I enjoyed this romance because it felt like a real progression of falling in love, especially for Rhianne. She had duty and then she had friendship and then she had love, which motivated her to look into breaking the curse. So many stories are too fast and quick when it comes to love and this book wasn’t like that. But then again, I don’t read a lot of Romance.
If you are looking for a light, quick read with a satisfying ending then Dragon Rose could be for you. Certainly if you are interested in Romance I would recommend it. Note that this is a PG-13 style Romance; in other words it’s not a hot, sexy Romance, but a sweet, yearning one. So I’ll leave it up to you what style you prefer.
Have you ever read Dragon Rose or any other or Christine Pope’s novels? Did I inspire you to pick up this title and read it for yourself? I would love to hear from you; feel free to leave a comment below.
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