Heart of the Dragon
by Gena Showalter
(HQN, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-77057-X
*****
When it comes to the books I receive to review, I enjoy getting a variety of subgenres. But if all paranormal romances were as good as Gena Showalterís Heart of the Dragon, I would gladly switch to a steady diet of paranormals.

Darius en Kragin was selected to be a Guardian of the Mist. As the title of the book suggests, Darius is a dragon. He looks human most of the time but can transform when needed. His mission as a Guardian is to kill anyone who tries to enter the world of dragons. He was young when he accepted the responsibility, but he has grown accustomed to it and to killing anyone who enters the mist.

Three hundred years after Darius became a Guardian of the Mist, Grace Carlyle searches for her brother in the Amazon jungle. She was abandoned by her guide, and now isnít sure where she is. Her wanderings lead her into the mist and to Darius.

Darius is poised to strike but is surprised when he sees that the person who has entered the mist is a woman. He knows that killing her is his duty, but finds that he is reluctant to do so. Everything changes when he sees that she wears a Ra-Dracus, a talisman given only to dragon warriors. Since she is not a dragon, she shouldnít have the talisman. He decides to keep her alive long enough to find out why she has the Ra-Dracus.

Heart of the Dragon presents an interesting world, one that Showalter describes vividly. The world-building is excellent, with many wonderful details, such as how they are able to understand each other after Darius recites a spell. Other points in the story have equally intriguing explanations, such as the Ra-Dracus, which gives its holder interesting abilities.

Dariusís journey from cold and indifferent to warm and feeling is fascinating to watch. He is not a perfect hero, but that makes him all the more compelling. One scene late in the book where Grace makes him laugh by telling a joke is both sexy and touching.

Grace is a terrific heroine who stands up for herself and takes action rather than sitting around and letting things happen to her. There is one moment where she puts herself in danger unnecessarily, which was slightly frustrating. However, itís understandable why she does it.

If youíre looking for a unique and memorable story, try Heart of the Dragon. Gena Showalter is a rising star in paranormal romance. I canít wait to see what she writes next.

--Alyssa Hurzeler


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