Title: Dragon’s Bounty (Dracula’s Love: Book One)
Author: S. Joy P.
Pages/Word Count: 299 Pages
At a Glance: This author’s imagination and delivery of the unique and unexpected continues to impress.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: In the fifteenth century Wallachia, the self-serving boyars will do anything to advance their own positions while the interests of the Hungarian king and the Ottoman sultan tear their country apart. One interest is shared by all. A weak prince on the Wallachian throne. A prince who bends easily.
But a fierce and spirited man rules the land – Vlad Dracula, and he would rather break than bend. Murderers robbed him of his closest family. Pretenders lay claim on his titles. A noose of intrigues reaching beyond the borders of his realm tightens around him. Undaunted, he fights for his ancestral rights and for the defense of the whole Christendom. In all struggles, Love known as The Englishman stands true and faithful by his side.
Only… Love is not an English mercenary as he says he is, but the god of love who accidentally used his magic on himself, and fell for the only one who claims not to have use for love – Vlad Dracula.
Turbulent events drag them both into a brutal clash of honor and duty against treachery and ambitions. Into a sword dance in which a single wrong step can bring death.
And only one of them is… immortal.
Review: Sometimes the difference between a good book and a not so good book is the difference between the unexpected being made believable, and the expected being made unbelievable. Any author who succeeds at the first, something S. Joy P. has proven for the second time she can do with excellence, is an author whose books will make it onto my Must Read list every time.
Once again, the author has culled the annals of history and come up with our unexpected hero in Dragon’s Bounty. Vlad Dracula, the Prince of Wallachia, whose legacy earned him the epithet Vlad the Impaler, and who it is said was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s own Dracula, is (in what may seem impossible odds, given the chronicling of his deeds) a convincing and sympathetic hero, as the author does an excellent job of weaving hints of Stoker’s canonical themes into her novel of the real man’s legend.
A blend of mythology and history, this novel belongs in the category of an epic saga more so than a romance; though, if you broaden the definition of romance to include S. Joy P.’s obvious love of her subject and the setting, then a romantic saga Dragon’s Bounty is. It is also, at least thus far, a story of unrequited love that in all its metaphorical beauty brings Love personified directly into the life of Vlad Dracula, the man who has no use for the emotion but does have use for the god who has disguised himself in the mortal role of an English mercenary. We watch as a love spell backfires on Love, and we follow his journey as he is sentenced to torture and slavery and survives only with the help of his brother Death, and through his willingness to adapt to the most horrific of trials.
Written in a language that not only invokes the imagination as we picture the landscape but also gives this novel its texture, the author deftly weaves into the narrative what feels like a wholly organic tone within the 15th Century setting. S. Joy P. holds nothing back in her developing of the characters, the depiction of the brutality or, to our modern senses, showing what is nothing less than barbaric customs and practices which were native to Wallachia at the time.
Dragon’s Bounty is a story of sacrifice in the name of Love and love, both the man and the emotion. It’s the story of what happens to a god when he’s flung into the mortal coil and gains his humanity while, at the same time, we see him commit inhumane acts in the name of love and loyalty. It’s an allegorical tale of love, the emotion, and Love, the man, which builds a sense of sensual intimacy without being intimate in a sexual way. When love states, “Make no mistake, love can be brutal,” we see two sides to the declaration, that he himself is becoming as brutal as the emotion of which he speaks, and in another lovely contrast, we watch as the man who does not want or need love, call Love to him time and time again, keeping Love close by as the god acts as both narrator and author of his story.
Dragon’s Bounty is not a quick read. It’s a story rich in history and detail, one to be savored as S. Joy P. slowly and with an impressive skill draws her readers into the time and place and treachery of revenge and political affairs, and then leaves Love and Dracula’s story unfinished, much more of this saga left to be told, and I can’t wait for the rest.
You can buy Dragon’s Bounty exclusively at Amazon.com: