Forever / December 17, 2013 / $6.00 print, $5.69 digital
They are the Hidden.
Not quite human. Far from normal.
And never, ever safe . . .
Ruby Salazaar wants answers . . . and revenge. Her uncle has just been murdered before her eyes and the name he utters with his final breath - Cyntag - leads Ruby into a world beyond her wildest imaginings. She soon learns that the dark, sexy Cyntag Valeron knows more about her than she does herself.
Ruby changed Cyn's life before she even knew who he was. Now she charges into his life, a beautiful woman full of fire and questions. Cyn knew this day would come, yet he couldn't foresee the danger - and desires - Ruby would bring with her. He can teach her how to harness her newly awakened powers. But there is one force neither of them can control . . .
Until I read Jaime Rush’s Dragon Awakened, the only dragons I could recall from pop culture were Smaug and the mindless animals in Reign of Fire (granted, the main draw for Reign of Fire is dirty, scruffy Gerard Butler and Christian Bale—but there are also dragons).
Paranormal and supernatural stories aren't always my go-to genres, though when I read them, I love them—anything from Molly O’Keefe’s charming and lighthearted How to Seduce A Naked Werewolf, to the darker, brooding Dark Hunter series from Sherrilyn Kenyon. Heck, I’m a way-back fan of the vampire Lestat. But dragons?
You betcha. Rush’s dragons are super sexy. They drive the underlying, animal nature of Cyntag Valeron, and the newly established supernatural powers of Ruby Salazaar. The dragon half recognizes its mate far before the human half.
Dragon Awakened isn’t a bright, sunshiny story. It’s dark and brooding, with dragon energy crackling in the atmosphere, meting out Fringe justice, prophecies, a hidden dragon society, and my favorite: revenge.
When Ruby was a little girl, her parents were killed by a dragon in a violent struggle at sea. She was wrapped in a blanket, tucked away in a corner and overlooked until the dragon shifted back to its human self, Cyntag. The order had been to take out everyone on the yacht, and was intended to include the child.
They must have a good reason for wanting her dead. And he was cold-blooded enough to carry out any task they required.
Fifteen years later, Ruby walks in to find her Uncle Mon, a master illusionist, violently under attack and dangling several feet above the floor—mortally wounded and pinned to the wall by a green lightning bolt through the chest. Her initial thought is to jump in and distract the harmful light, but her uncle warns her, “Don’t let it see you.”
The “it” gives her pause, but she jumps into the fray, determined to help. Before she has time to use any of her knives on the lightning, it formed into a ball of light and shot through the house. Everything will be explained in the letter that’s in the envelope I left you, Uncle Mon conveys, like a stupid packet of stuff can make up for the horror and uncertainty. But it has to, because Mon dies and Ruby has to escape. Fortunately, Uncle Mon and her cousins have spent the better part of the last decade and a half preparing her to survive, by playing a game they called Hunter/Prey. In battling the orb and fleeing the smoke engulfing Uncle Mon’s house, clarity hits her like a ton of lead.
Orb. She’d heard that word before, in the stories Mon created for her when she was a child: a hidden world of magick, with angels and people who turned into dragons. Magick, with a k at the end, spelled differently because it wasn’t the illusion type. The sorcerer-like Deuces could make orbs, instilling an intention like spy or fry.
Hot damn! Sorcerers, dragons, angels, illusions—this ain’t your mother’s David Copperfield, that’s for sure. This is paranormal romance, and in Jaime Rush’s creative world, she’s built a hidden dragon society that polices its own kind, battles good and evil, metes out justice, and produces some pretty sexy freaking dragons. It’s inevitable that Cyn and Ruby will meet years later, and that a prophecy is involved in their coupling.
Rush writes Cyntag’s physical dragon form in the classic European dragon style, as a water lizard; but the mystical powers of his kind, the magick that transforms him from man to dragon, alludes to the legendary Chinese dragons that symbolize potent powers and strength, and a control over the elements. The subtle nod to classical mythology, intertwined with her own world building is beguiling.
Ruby is nearly irresistible to Cyn, particularly to his dragon, which has a mind of its own where she’s concerned. Not only does Cyn have to fight his guilt over past actions and his attraction to Ruby, but he has to battle his basic animal nature. Damn the dragon!
“Don’t say you can’t do this. Being my protector doesn’t exclude you from loving me. I’m not a child. It’s not our Dragons, as you just admitted. There’s no reason we can’t act on our feelings.”
He sat up, tension in his expression. “There is a reason we can’t act on this.”
… He rubbed his forehead. “I can’t let this happen until you know the truth about me.”
The terrible secret of his actions is agonizing, knowing that he was the cause of her parent’s death. He may not have ordered it, but he certainly carried it out in the form of his dragon. “It was me, Ruby,” have to be the hardest words Cyn ever spoke.
Sometimes doing the right thing sucks, because despite how much he wants Ruby, and how much his actions bother him, history cannot be changed or erased. By easing one agony, he created another: how can Ruby ever forgive him. This is good stuff, y’all!
I can’t wait to read more of Jaime Rush’s Hidden series.
Learn more or order a copy of Dragon Awakened by Jaime Rush, available on December 17, 2013:
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and this year her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.