The Smoke Thief (Drákon #1)
by Shana Abé
Summary: For centuries they’ve lived in secret among northern England’s green and misted hills. Creatures of extraordinary beauty, power, and sensuality, they possess the ability to shape-shift from human to dragon and back again. Now their secret—and their survival—is threatened by a temptation that will break every boundary.
Dubbed the Smoke Thief, a daring jewel thief is confounding the London police. His wealthy victims claim the master burglar can walk through walls and vanish into thin air. But Christoff, the charismatic Marquess of Langford, knows the truth: the thief is no ordinary human but a "runner" who's fled Darkfrith without permission. As Alpha leader of the drákon, it's Kit's duty to capture the fugitive before the secrets of the tribe are revealed to mortals. But not even Kit suspects that the Smoke Thief could be a woman.
Clarissa Rue Hawthorne knew her dangerous exploits would attract the attention of the drákon. But she didn't expect Christoff himself to come to London, dangling the tribe's most valuable jewel—the Langford Diamond—as bait. For as long as she could remember, Rue had lived the life of a halfling—half drákon, half mortal—and an outcast in both worlds. She'd always loved the handsome and willful Kit from the only place it was safe: from afar. But now she was no longer the shy, timid girl she'd once been. She was the first woman capable of making the Turn in four generations. So why did she still feel the same dizzying sense of vulnerability whenever he was near?
From the moment he saw her, Kit knew that the alluring and powerful beauty was every bit his Alpha equal and destined to be his bride. And by the harsh laws of the drákon, Rue knew that she was the property of the marquess. But they will risk banishment and worse for a chance at something greater. For now Rue is his prisoner, the diamond has disappeared, and she's made the kind of dangerous proposition a man like Kit cannot resist.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.
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I absolutely love Shana Abé’s YA historical paranormal romance set in the 1900s involving dragons, The Sweetest Dark. The series is one of the most beautifully written and enchanting books. I wanted more of it/like it and I noticed she had an adult paranormal dragon series set a few centuries earlier than The Sweetest Dark. I don’t typically read adult paranormal romances, but I fell in love with the author’s writing and I knew I had to at least try it out.
The Smoke Thief was set in the late 1700s. The tribe of drákon lived away from the city of London and were ruled by a leader who was also the Alpha. Women could not shift or Turn for some reason. The drákon could shift from person to smoke to a dragon. In London, a thief was running rampant, stealing important jewels, and the drákon immediately realized that the thief had to be one of their own. What they didn’t expect was for that thief to be a woman who could turn.
I loved the premise of the novel and I absolutely enjoyed the way it began, with a legend and backstory to set the scene. Shana Abé is a superb author who has this magical way of writing and drawing the reader into the story. I am NOT the biggest fan of historical novels that are set before the 1900s. For some reason, the 1900s are incredibly intriguing and everything before that just makes me yawn. I don’t care about gowns and balls and counts and jewels and drama, which is typically what romance novels set in that time period are all about. Some sort of shallow drama. However, The Smoke Thief still grabbed me and held my interest throughout, proving to be more complex and intriguing than I would have originally thought.
The Alpha leader of the drákon knew that the woman thief, Rue, as the only woman to Turn, would be his Alpha mate. It was the way of the tribe. Rue, however, left the tribe as kid because as soon as she Turned, she knew she’d be mated and it was her worst nightmare to be mated to someone who didn’t care about her in any other fashion. I loved the layers of the conflict and the way that the two Alphas were forced to work together to find the true thief of the stolen diamond important to the tribe. Kit, the leader, was trying to woo Rue, while Rue was just trying to find a way out of her predicament.
Rue was a wonderful character who was multifaceted and genuine. I liked her as a person and I rooted for her the entire time. I even liked Kit, though he was definitely one of those “alpha male” characters at some times. He wasn’t as bad as I thought and I saw him genuinely falling for Rue because of who she was, so I started to really like him as a person as the story continued. I was skeptical about their romance because the alpha male persona is the most commonly used one I see in romance novels and I was so afraid this would be another book filled with unrealistic sex meant to dominate the weaker female lead and ends up the same as every other romance novel with little in the way of actual plot. Fortunately, I was wrong. There was plenty of plot, actual exploration of connections rather than swift falling into romance and bedrooms, and tons of conflict.
I liked The Smoke Thief enough to purchase the sequel and I intend to continue the series. I do not like it as much as The Sweetest Dark, but there are two reasons why. One, I truly do prefer the 1900s to any previous time period. Two, I prefer the way the romantic connections unfold in YA novels. There’s a certain beauty in the way the characters come of age, shed their innocence, explore, and learn to trust and love one another that is rarely captured as well in adult romance. However, if you did enjoy The Sweetest Dark, you’ll love The Smoke Thief, even if YA is your preferred age category and even if historical novels aren’t your thing. And if you’re not picky about either of those, then perhaps you’ll love The Smoke Thief even more. It was certainly written elegantly.
On a side note, I am VERY glad I read the book on Kindle. I was surprised by how beautiful the language was. The author used so much archaic English that flowed perfectly with her style. I had to highlight many words to grab a quick definition to ensure I was correct in what the meaning was based on context, so it was really handy to have that option instead of assuming or wasting time grabbing a dictionary.
Labels: paranormal romance, Review