Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel Cooper
Series: Dawn of the Highland Warrior #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
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Legend claims When Scotland fell to English rule The Highland dragons took a vow: Freedom at any price.
The war may be over, but so long as English magic controls the Highlands, not even a dragon laird can keep his clan safe. What Cathal MacAlasdair needs is a warrior fierce enough to risk everything, yet gifted enough to outwit an enemy more monster than man.
What he needs is Sophia.
Alchemist Sophia Metzger traveled to Loch Arach in search of knowledge. She never dreamed she'd learn to do battle, ride through the stars on the back of a dragon, or catch the eye of a Highland laird. But as her quest turns to sizzling chemistry and inescapable danger, she'll soon discover the thrill of being caught in a dragon's claws...
Dawn of the Highland Dragon Series: Highland Dragon Warrior (Book 1) Highland Dragon Rebel (Book 2)Highland Dragon Unleashed (Book 3)
What People Are Saying: "The mix of hard-headed realism and fantasy in this novel is enchanting..."--Barnes and Noble Reviews for Legend of the Highland Dragon "An outstanding read! ...fast-paced, smartly written...impossible to put down."--RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 Stars, Top Pick! for Legend of the Highland Dragon"Smartly written, fast-paced, and brimming over with magic and surprises, this is exactly what readers crave."--RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 Stars, TOP PICK! for Night of the Highland Dragon
Cathal MacAlasdair is the youngest in a long line of dragon shifters. He’s currently managing the family’s lands while the rest of his family is away at war, but he’s unhappy. He kinda wants to be back fighting but also kinda doesn’t, and he is feeling the immense pressure of being responsible for the entire clan. When alchemist Sophia Metzger arrives seeking a favor, he thinks she may be able to help him solve a particularly painful crisis involving his childhood friend and some dark magic. Sophia has to work to figure out how to save Cathal’s friend, which ends up being a more dangerous task than anyone anticipated.
This book was kind of a mixed bag for me. One thing that definitely worked was Sophia. She had a confidence that was just wonderful to read about. She’s very, very good at her profession, and while she isn’t afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something, she’s confident in what she does know and isn’t afraid to trust herself. Even better, Sophia was just as self-assured in her personal life as well. She is honest and open with Cathal once she decides what she wants, and she isn’t afraid to make decisions about what is best for her life. This kind of confidence could easily stray into cockiness or impetuousness, but instead Sophia is extremely thoughtful, never making decisions without first turning the problem over her mind and examining it from all angles. It’s her intelligence, instinct, and bravery that save the day in the end.
She and Cathal were a lovely pair, too. He has learned to develop that same confidence in his decisions as a leader of armies and son of a lord, and while he doesn’t relish leadership he does what must be done. Most importantly, he trusts Sophia. While he wants her to be safe and worries that he can’t keep her that way, he still lets her make her own choices about dangerous situations and respects her authority. They had some great chemistry too, and the slow build up of their relationship ensured lots of steamy tension. I kept thinking these two were going to make a really dynamite pair in whatever they choose to do with their lives in the future.
But some things definitely didn’t work for me. Probably the biggest was the magic system, I guess you’d call it. It was kind of a mix between physical potions, woo-woo spiritualism, and some undefined “magic”. I was mildly intrigued, especially by the way it tied into religion in some places, but the descriptions of things like brewing potions were intense and overly detailed. (First book info dump? Perhaps this problem will be resolved in future books in the series.) Frankly, I was bored with most of it and by the end I was skimming some of that stuff, especially because there were so many long, draggy stretches of time where it was just Sophia working. There were also a lot of real historical details thrown in, and my knowledge of medieval European history is minimal at best. While I was interested in the bits about Jewish history (Sophia is Jewish, which is so rare in romances), overall I found the history tedious. To top it off, I also was not a huge fan of the writing style. It’s not technically flawed, but I found the writing to be dense and more of a slog than I prefer.
While I liked reading about Sophia and Cathal, I was probably not the ideal reader for this book. If you’re a fan of medieval romances with some magic thrown in and don’t mind denser prose, this might work even better for you.
Grade: 3 out of 5