Book Review: The Will of the Darkest One, by Sean Poindexter

WillofTheDarkestOne_SeanPoindexterThe Will of the Darkest One (The Dragon Blood Chronicles Book 2), by Sean Poindexter

Crescent Moon Press, (December 5, 2012)

New alliances are formed between unlikely allies as the dragons try control the damage unleashed into the human world. The bond between Garrett and Meg is crystallized, but as their worlds collide there are repercussions. Aoni’a and Meg try to help Yvonne with her impossible secret with the unlikely assistance of a curious human sorcerer. As Garrett and Ardeth undergo a dangerous journey to save Yvonne’s new child, Meg continues to explore her own secret.

Darker motives surface as the vampires seek revenge. Max becomes a target in a retributive strike by a pack of vampires hoping for advancement, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew. The dragoness Gruda seeks vengeance for the death of Xyus, while Veles Fraise collects allies for his coming war against humanity. Shades of his ultimate plan are revealed; the ancient dragon Fraise may serve a higher, darker will than even his own.

The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles pick up where The Shadow of Tiamat leaves off. Megan Crunk’s best friend Yvonne is nearing her second trimester of a bittersweet pregnancy. Knowing that the child growing inside the human female isn’t human, Meg’s dragon boyfriend Garret Terago, and his friend Aoni’a, act immediately to mitigate the dangers of the woman’s condition. First thing, Yvonne only knows her baby’s father as the sadist that raped her, so Aoni’a takes her to a clearing on Garrett’s property and shifts into her dragon form, opening the human’s eyes to world in which she’s become entangled. Yvonne responds by promptly passing out. Luckily, Aoni’a has fast reflexes and catches the delicate woman before she hits the ground.

Dragons come about two ways. Typically, a female mates with the intention of spawning. The hatchlings grow to be reasonable creature. They have all the knowledge of their mother. They build out of the way lairs in which to hide their beautiful treasures. And they establish human identities and go out of their way not to attract attention. Aoni’a is unusual in that she enjoys the company of Hollywood’s elite, but all of Megan Crunk’s dragon acquaintances are otherwise typical.

Nigel Xyus, the dragon who impregnated Yvonne, was spawned the other way. A human sorceress magically impregnated herself for the purpose of creating a dragon that would serve her, and her son inherited her evil nature. Half-dragons are only half in that they have human mothers. Had Yvonne not become pregnant, Xyus’s human mother would have gone unnoticed.

Yvonne’s delicate condition drives several plot arcs of The Will of the Darkest One.

Firstly, dragon mothers carry their eggs for 12 months before laying them, after which the spawn will continue to mature for another three months. Yvonne cannot carry the egg longer than nine months. It will tear her apart from the inside, and being premature, the dragon will also die. So, the egg must stay inside Yvonne as long as she can carry it, and then it must come out. That requires the services of an arcanist to magically transfer the egg from Yvonne to Aoni’a. Enter Fred, a squat, smelly slob of man who would attract no attention at a comicon whatsoever but somehow manages to steal a few scenes from his dragon co-stars.

Unrelated to Yvonne’s pregnancy, Aoni’a knows something about Meg, that she won’t tell her and Garrett. She guides Meg, but insists that the human must find many of the answers leading to the secret on her own. This sub-arc contributes to some vampire action in this book, but is meant to set up action in the next book.

After reading The Shadow of Tiamat, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. I was left with such in incredible feeling of euphoria, I found myself unwilling to read another book for a week. Meg and Garret are endearing characters and their romance is sexy and beautiful. Like I said, this book picks up right where Tiamat left off. Meg and Garrett had been separated for a few months and just reconciled, so it should come as no surprise that make-up sex happens in the opening chapters. And, Sean Poindexter’s writing, so it’s hot steamy, Meg clawing at the shower walls and screaming at the top of her lungs, sex. Given his handling of sex in Tiamat, I expected there to be this scene, and then references to sex here and there.

No.

Garrett, as it happens, was the exception among dragons in regards to interest in sex. Most of the dragons in this book are quite active in their human forms. Aoni’a, in Meg’s words, is a ‘magnificent whore,’ having alluded to trysts with everyone from Marc Antony (and Cleopatra) to Rick Moranis. The one person she’s desired sex with but was never able to seduce was Garrett. In The Will of the Darkest One, we see dragons sharing intimate-but-non-sexual company. We hear of threesomes with human swingers. We see sadistic torture-fucking. And back in Garrett and Meg’s bedroom, the initial five-orgasm make-up session is just these two getting warmed up. The hottest of their scenes comes in around the two-thirds mark, when Garrett comes home after a long, dangerous trip in the effort to save Yvonne. He throws Meg down on the floor of their balcony, in the rain. Sex between them is something he enjoys, though not simply because it’s pleasurable. It makes him happy because it makes Meg happy, but he’s always in control, releasing himself usually upon her command. The beauty of the balcony event is in Garret losing control while making up for lost time. For the first time ever, Meg fears that he’ll hurt her. He doesn’t, but he does give her everything, which is all she’s ever wanted from him. Seriously, it’s the most incredible sex scene I’ve ever read.

It wouldn’t be a Sean Poindexter book without violence and there’s lots to be had. Due to limitations of sorcery, Garrett’s major fight of this book is in his human form, so we get to see him battling demons with a six-shooter owned by Jesse James, and the sword that belonged to a Frankish knight he ate a few centuries back. The vampire slaughter in this book then is left to “Meg” and her former boss, Max, who has a few of the funniest lines in a book laced with humor.

My one complaint about the book is that the ebook is littered with text and formatting errors. The paragraph tabbing is one, maybe two characters. Several scene breaks are missing, jumping the action from Missouri to a fortress in Europe without warning. There are Frankenstein sentences that somehow survived editing. I am notoriously bad about them in my own writing, so I found no difficulty reading through them, though a reader may be jarred from the narration by them. This story is so good, I couldn’t care less about the typos. Once again, I am left enchanted by Sean Poindexter’s imagination.

If you like paranormal romance, hot guys, snarky girls, and the idea of dragons squeezing vampires like tubes of toothpaste, The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles are for you. I’m actually a little pissed off that The Elohim Legacy (The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles, Book 3) isn’t on my Kindle right now, but at least you don’t have to wait for the first two.

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Liebster Award

So, a while back on a Six Sentence Sunday post, I mentioned a snag with the publication of January Black. Well, that snag may have been sorted out with the help of Melissa Robitille, a writer/freelance editor. (You can follow her on Twitter.) I’m all sorts of amazed by her, not least of all by the fact that she gave me an award. The Liebster Award. For blogging. Which, if it weren’t for SSS, I’d be totally failing at.

Liebster is an award bloggers give to introduce blogs you might not have found already that we think are completely awesome. Here’s how it works. You post the picture of the award to your blog:

Liebster Award

You give 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you. Then you think up 11 new questions and nominate 11 new blogs – and you can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you.

Eleven Random Facts About Wendy S. Russo

  1. I was a premie. I was born 8 weeks early in an air force hospital and spent 11 days in an incubator. As the story goes, there were three pre-term babies born that week at that hospital, but I was the only one who went home.
  2. I love sarcasm, but it’s sometimes lost on me.
  3. I’m fascinated by machinery. I once picked up a cam shaft from a friend’s dining table and said, “It’s so pretty.” Half-a-dozen people looked at me like I had two heads.
  4. It took me 2 1/2 years to read Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum,” the first time. The second read took 10 days. (The secret is accepting that most of the details are important to world, but not the plot.)
  5. My husband and I were THIS close to naming our son “Hiro Protagonist.” We thought his English teachers would get a kick out of it. But, Hiro Russo is hard to say.
  6. I can engage myself in a repetitive task for months on end. My boss doesn’t get it but seems to appreciate it.
  7. I don’t understand “cute shoes” or “cute bags.” My husband picks out my outfits because I’m that fashion impaired.
  8. I do get “mean cars,” though. I’m partial to American muscle cars, particularly ’60’s Camaros.
  9. I’m bad at math, but I rock at Geometry proofs…which I’ve found practically useless in my adult life. Go figure.
  10. My favorite way to eat mashed potatoes is fried.
  11. I can’t golf. At all.

Answers to Melissa’s Questions

  1. What motivates you to write when you don’t really feel like writing?
    Music. For example, NIN “The Hand that Feeds” invokes a pretty, slender girl in a muay thai-esque street fight. (That WIP was shelved.) Skid Row’s “Breakin’ Down” gave birth to a scene where a young boy is pleading with a father figure not to leave. (A scene from that WIP became January Black.)
  2. Do you prefer being alone, in a group of people you know, or anonymous in a crowd?
    I don’t like being the center of attention. I like being in small groups, or anonymous in crowds. And I do alright alone.
  3. Do you ‘people watch’, and if so what’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen other people do?
    I think the thing that grabs my attention is when people wear something that defies explanation. Like…who wears flesh colored spandex pants to the mall? Who wears sparkly letters across the seat of their yoga pants? I’m not a fashionista, or even qualified to judge most outfits, but there’s some surprising stuff out there.
  4. How many books (a rough estimate, don’t go count them) do you have in your house, and what kind of books are they (yes, eBooks count as books)?
    A few hundred, I guess.
  5. What are your hobbies?
    Baking, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, gardening (none of which I’m particularly good at.)
  6. What are your three favorite songs?
    Queensryche “Someone Else”, Lee Ann Womack “I Hope You Dance”, and Tori Amos “Winter.”
  7. What’s the biggest, best, and shiniest dream you have for your writing career?
    I got published! Everything after January Black’s release is a bonus.
  8. If you could take someone’s place for a day (modern or in history), who would you be and why?
    I would like to be Joseph Smith on a particular afternoon in April 1820.
  9. If you could have a re-do of some point in your life, what would it be and what would you do or say differently?
    I am where I am today because of life as it’s been. I wouldn’t change a thing.
  10. Which family member has been most supportive of your writing and in what way?
    My husband. I respect his opinion so much, I’m almost too embarrassed to let him read anything. *facepalm*
  11. What part of the writing process (writing, editing, querying, submissions, etc.) is the hardest for you?
    Blurbs. OMG, I hate writing blurbs.

And My 11 Questions

  1. What is your oldest memory?
  2. What did you want to be when you grew up? (Assuming that you ever actually did.)
  3. What’s the image on your computer desktop?
  4. Do you exercise?
  5. Which actor is ‘James Bond’ to you?
  6. Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?
  7. Do you prefer books, or ebooks?
  8. White walls? Or do you need color on your walls?
  9. What character do you think you are most like?
  10. Which character would you like to be more like?
  11. How long did it take you to put together this blog post?

For the Liebster Award, I am nominating:

Book Review: The Shadow of Tiamat, by Sean Poindexter

The Shadow of Tiamat (The Dragon Blood Chronicles Book 1), by Sean Poindexter
Crescent Moon Press, (December 5, 2011)

On a dark Ozark highway, two souls meet in tragedy and find their lives are connected to things bigger than them both. Megan Crunk, a social worker from Joplin, uncovers vampires preying on a small community. That same day, she meets Garrett, a fascinating stranger who is clearly more than he seems. But, as Meg slowly learns, so is she.

Garrett Terago is an ancient dragon. Until now, he’s been content with the secluded Ozark Mountains. Disguised as a human, but rarely paying them heed, until he meets Megan. He offers her love and protection from the vampires but can he keep her safe from his own kind? War looms between the dragons. Some long for a time lost to prehistory, when they were worshiped as gods, masters of the world. Somehow, Garrett is instrumental to their plans and Megan is in their way.

To start, I will say there are vampires in this book. They do wicked things. They walk in the sunlight. They don’t sparkle.

Tiamat opens with the main character, Megan, explaining to Garrett her reasons for thinking he was a vampire. He confirms that vampires do exist, but he’s not one. Then he confesses that he’s a dragon.

The second chapter rewinds a few weeks. Megan is a Joplin, Missouri, social worker, and there’s a recurrent head lice case in the nearby town of Scottish that she needs to follow up on. There she finds strange marks on the necks of the young girl and her mother’s live-in boyfriend. She takes a picture with her cel-phone. After seeing nothing to indicate additional problems in the house, she leaves. On her way out of town, she is pulled over by the chief of police, who expresses his disapproval with her unannounced visit to his town. She’s shaken when he lets her leave, attempts to pass a vehicle on corner, and plows into an oncoming motorcycle.

She is pulled out of the car by the rider, Garrett, who later offers her a $10,000 settlement for her injuries and the loss of her car. She invites him out to dinner. He reciprocates by flying her to Chicago for dinner. His attention is lavish, which she revels in, until her follow up on the Scottish case brings up information on vampires. She suspects one has been feeding on people in Scottish, but the information fits her new boyfriend as well.

After Garrett admits that he’s a dragon, and Megan doesn’t run away screaming, he takes her to special pair of doors in his massive mountain home. The doors open up into a cave and Garrett drops into the abyss, picking her up off the ledge after he shifts. Megan thinks the dragon is incredibly hot and the pair spends the next two days in bed.

Elsewhere in Tiamat’s world, vampires discuss the Meg problem. The chief of police in Scottish has been using his power of thrall to make humans forget things for years. He tries it twice with Meg, to no effect. Under normal circumstances, he would just kill her, but the other vampires make it clear to him that killing her is no longer an option. They, however, do not tell him why. Instead, he must publically discredit her before she can cause trouble.

And in an African desert, a number of dragons meet to talk business. An old dragon, Morrígu, refuses to take part in their plans to destroy mankind, and the others kill her. During the next few scenes, the very different personalities, and loyalties, of the dragons becomes clear…as does one’s need for Garrett Terago to be part of their plan, and the confusion others as to why.

Dragons are vain creatures, Garrett tells Meg. They are also prideful, and like snarling Rottweiler, very protective of things that are smaller and more fragile than they are. These three storylines collide with heavy consequences for Meg, her roommate Yvonne, and the little girl in Scottish.

Sean portrays Meg perfectly as a 20-something social worker with a frustrated sex life. She uses her feminine hygiene products twice, (which is twice more that I have included such a detail.) She bawls herself puffy and vomits at something utterly vile. She repeatedly compares her body to other women. When she’s injured, the effects last for days, even weeks. Meg is a grounded character that interacts with a tangible world, which helps balance out how amazing and unreal Garrett is.

Sex in this book goes on for pages. I decided to spend some time on the subject because some reviewers have found it excessive in terms of detail, length, and frequency. I found the language contemporary of erotica, a genre about which I am very picky. (I will warn you that Meg is very fond of her F-bombs.) I preferred his shorter scenes to the longer ones. However, the sex has an important purpose. First, as I mentioned previously, Meg’s sexually frustrated. Garrett appreciates beauty, but cannot create it. It’s a trait among dragons that leads them to hoards things that they find pretty. Meg is the newest beautiful thing he claims as his own; protecting her and making her happy become his reasons for living. The dragon can’t write poetry, but…he can curl her toes with a look, and he can climax on demand.

Second, the prolonged scene defines the nature of sex between these two characters in such a way that, afterward, Sean is able to maintain the passion between the two leads with the short scenes and simple mentions. So, even though I prefer shorter scenes, I can’t complain that much. Sean’s a multitasker; the scenes participate in character development and world building. For example, Garrett’s explanation to Meg about procreation and recreational sex among dragons is part of a getting-to-know-you-better conversation. But it also serves as a primer to behavior and interactions between other dragons in scenes all over the book that humans would find odd.

For readers who prefer violent battles to sex, Sean’s got your back, too. There’s spewing blood, breaking bones, ripping open of skulls to expose brain matter, and acid eating away flesh. When a guy hands the bartender an envelope of cash and tells him it’s for the mess, I expect someone to end up with jukebox pieces tangled in entrails, and I was not disappointed. All this together, plus an interesting supporting cast, stitched together with fluid prose, and The Shadow of Tiamat is one magnificent beast. The sequels are set up like little duckies at the carnival and I can’t wait to read them.

Guest Blogger Alert: Author Sean Poindexter at Wicked Romance

Sean Pointdexter, author of The Shadow of Tiamat, is guest blogging at Wicked Romance today. The post goes live at 8 am. Seriously, check him out!

While you’re at it, you should stop in on his blog, too. Every so often, Thor commandeers the blog to talk about a movie. Here’s the cat’s opinion of Conan the Barbarian.