Only Couples Need Apply

Shadow on the Moon

 
The Dragon Hour by Connie Flynn
(Onyx, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-451-40909-4
***
It’s 1672 and the people of Lochlorraine, Scotland, find themselves in fantastical circumstances. The Earl’s brother, Ian, has finally achieved his dream: the Philosopher’s Stone, an object that turns metal into gold. But his dream comes at a great price: Lochlorraine is ripped from Scotland and is trapped in a bubble that floats through time. To make matters worse, the time bubble comes with a resident dragon, Omeskirk, that terrorizes the kingdom. While Ian desperately works on reversing his actions, he turns the kingdom over to his sister-in-law, Lady Caryn.

Twenty years later, modern day Luke Slade finds himself trying to save the life of his cousin, Randy. Luke and Randy are involved in an armored car heist gone terribly wrong, and with Randy seriously wounded, Luke is looking for escape. That’s when they find a secluded grove in Central Park, where they are transported back in time to Lochlorraine.

Lady Caryn meets up with Luke and Randy at the portal gate. She immediately believes Luke is Sir Lucas, the Dragon Slayer and the rest of the people heartily agree. While she cares for Randy with herbal remedies and primitive surgery, Luke tries to come to grips with their new circumstances.

Luke has no desire to slay the dragon and only wants to find a way to get home and get Randy to a modern medical facility. However, there’s not much waiting for him back in New York, and he finds himself drawn into life in Lochlorraine, and to the beautiful Lady Caryn.

Not only do our heroes have to contend with a time bubble and a dragon, but when Luke traveled back, he brought some unsavory characters with him. Marco, Hub, and Ralph get drawn into a military coup that plans to overthrow Ian, and the “wench” in charge, Caryn.

Will Luke slay the dragon? Will Lochlorraine be freed from the time bubble? Will the military coup and the dastardly Marco be stopped? Will Caryn and Luke live happily ever after?

There’s a lot of going on in The Dragon Hour and I admire the author’s ambition. However, with so many plot details and conflicts the characters suffer. For instance, while I really enjoyed the fantasy element, I never felt connected to Luke and Caryn. I was more interested in the dragon and time bubble than I was in their romance. I never got a sense of growing sexual tension between the two, only a lukewarm attraction.

In fact, Luke and Caryn spend a good part of the novel fighting with each other, and they’re both irrational. Caryn is not only pressuring Luke to slay a dragon he has no interest in killing, she’s also hiding a very big secret from him. She was a little too deceitful for my tastes, and of course she tries to explain her actions through a sense of duty and love. In the meantime, Luke is too busy being disgusted by the living conditions in 1692, worried about Randy, and trying to find a way home to really explore his feelings for Caryn.

All the conflict ensures an action packed novel, with an entertaining and imaginative fantasy element. The pace is sometimes dizzying, and at times I found this book hard to put down. However, by the end of the novel I did find myself a little frustrated. For a climatic finish, not all of the conflicts were solved, with one nagging loose end left dangling.

While The Dragon Hour was an entertaining novel, I found it more fantasy than romance. While I enjoyed the fantastical story, I was less satisfied with Luke and Caryn’s romance. For readers hungry for fantasy this may be worth a look.

--Wendy Crutcher


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