Dec 2 2014 5:35pm

First Look: Isabel Cooper’s The Highland Dragon’s Lady (December 2, 2014)

The Highland Dragon's Lady by Isabel CooperIsabel Cooper
The Highland Dragon's Lady (Highland Dragons #2)
Sourcebooks / December 2, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

Regina Talbot-Jones has always known her rambling family home was haunted. She also knows her brother has invited one of his friends to attend an ill-conceived séance. She didn't count on that friend being so handsome... and she certainly didn't expect him to be a dragon.

Scottish Highlander Colin MacAlasdair has hidden his true nature for his entire life, but the moment he sets eyes on Regina, he knows he has to have her. In his hundreds of years, he's never met a woman who could understand him so thoroughly... or touch him so deeply. Bound by their mutual loneliness, drawn by the fire awakening inside of them, Colin and Regina must work together to defeat a vengeful spirit - and discover whether their growing love is powerful enough to defy convention.

In The Highland Dragon's Lady, the sequel to Isabel Cooper's Legend of the Highland Dragon, tomboy-ish Reggie Talbot-Jones ends up revealing much more about herself than she intended to Colin MacAlasdair when she misjudges the window through which she is attempting to berate her brother Edmund about his romantic choices. Reggie lives a somewhat less-than-conventional lifestyle and makes for a compelling heroine; Colin is an excellent foil for her.

Cooper adds a chilling ghost story to her historical paranormal background for the romance. The relationship between Colin and Reggie plays out amid their investigation of an unfriendly ghost at Whitehill, an estate recently purchased by the Talbot-Jones family. Reggie’s father had invited a host of interested parties to help solve the mystery; Colin is the guest of Reggie’s brother at the gathering, which has elements of a house party.

I especially liked how Colin’s attraction to Reggie is shown—he sees her as more than just a pretty face from the beginning, but it’s a slow build as he learns more and more about her. He first sees her as she would behave with her brother, dressed comfortably in male garb and free with her opinions of his behavior. He’s attracted first to her appearance.

The intruder shimmied off a branch, grabbed the edge of the balcony, and swung herself up to sit on the railing. Herself was the definitive pronoun: the girl in question was wearing a man’s shirt and a pair of trousers, but both were rather small even for the average stable boy, and she…wasn’t. Athletic and limber, yes; boyish, definitely not. This evening was definitely looking more interesting. Nonchalantly, with the air of having regularly occupied exactly such a seat, Colin’s visitor slid forward on the railing, twined her legs around the marble bars below her, and made herself comfortable. In the darkness, from Colin’s distance, a mortal man would have seen only her figure and the braid of dark hair trailing behind her.

Soon after Reggie has determined that she is alone with Colin, they share a kiss and, with it, their deepest secrets: Reggie sees visions if she touches someone, and Colin is a draconic shapeshifter. This early reveal gives them an unusual intimacy that is also uneasy, because they must trust each other to keep those secrets.

Later, Colin sees Reggie’s polite social face, but is at the same time becoming aware of the layers of personality beneath; he can already tell when she is concealing herself, though he’s still distracted by surface appearances.

Colin’s first thought, when he looked at the woman next to him, was something incoherent about masks and butterflies and buried treasure. Met—well-met, he would say—by moonlight on a balcony, in a stable boy’s clothing and with braided hair, Reggie Talbot-Jones had struck him as a pretty girl, more so because of her obvious daring and the unconventional way she spoke. Now she stood a few feet from him, glowing in peach satin and gold net, slim arms emerging from fashionably puffed sleeves, panels of gold flowing up over her hips to wrap around her waist. Gold combs gleamed in her dark hair, which had been gathered into a soft knot. She wore it low, but still showed plenty of both her graceful neck and the gold and amber necklace encircling it. The central stone, a large amber oval, rested just above her breasts. “Miss Talbot-Jones,” he said, and met her eyes for a long moment when he smiled. “A pleasure.”

Being jaded and many decades older than Reggie, however, it takes Colin some time to realize that he doesn’t just like her, and isn’t simply attracted to her physically. There’s additional plot tension while Colin, who ought to know himself better given his advanced age, figures out what he’s feeling. Meanwhile, Reggie is refreshingly herself and very self-possessed, which balances well with Colin’s age advantage.

If you’re looking for a romance ensconced in a gripping secondary story, why not check out The Highland Dragon’s Lady?


Learn more about or order a copy of The HighlandDragon's Lady by Isabel Cooper, available December 2:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

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Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. She also reads a lot. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.

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