HOT BLOODED – Donna Grant
Dark Kings , Book 4
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Scotland – The Present
John Campbell owned the land next to Dreagan, the secret refuge of the Dragon Kings. John's family have held the land, and protected the secret door that allowed entrance into Dreagan to anyone who knew about the access, for ages. John was murdered. His only heir is his daughter Iona, whose mother dragged her from their Scottish home twenty years ago, and Iona hasn't seen her father since.
Iona works as a photographer for an organization called the Commune, a company about which she knows precious little, yet the Commune pays her exceptionally well and allows her to travel the world on work assignments. Recently on an assignment in Afghanistan, Iona experienced a near-death adventure that made her decide she needed to talk with her father. Unfortunately, before arriving in Scotland, she learns her father has died. Once at his cottage, childhood memories return, and listening to his friends and neighbors eulogizing him, Iona realizes her father was far different from the man she remembered. She experiences some uncomfortable situations at the cottage, which she attributes to memory lapses, yet there is one place where she feels comfortable, the local pub, and talking with the captivating pub owner Laith.
Laith is King of the black dragons, and since sending his dragons to another realm for safety, he finds solace and purpose in operating his pub. The locals do not know he is a Dragon King. Constantine, the King of the Dragon Kings, knows that Iona, as the only heir of John Campbell, must learn of her family's duty. Laith has avoided relationships since the Dragon Kings killed the human lover and betrayer of the Dragon King Ulrik. Iona changes that. He feels a strong physical and mental reaction to the lovely human woman.
While Iona is in danger from sources who seem to know about the secret door, the story's focus is on the romance between her and Laith, two people who want to avoid the very situation they are in. However, more is going on. The problems of the Dragon King Rhys, wounded by a mix of Dark Fae and Dragon King magic in BURNING DESIRES, continue as he becomes increasingly attracted to Lily, an employee at the Dreagon Industries. A dangerous situation continues to build with the Dark Fae, Ulrik, and other unknown sources targeting the Dragon Kings, Warriors, Druids, and Light Fae. These attacks might lead to war and public exposure not only of the dragons but also all those holding magic. All of humanity is at risk.
While this series has great characters (many of them!), emotional love scenes, and very dramatic sequences, one thing always pulls me from the story -- the timeline of the dragons. The creator gave the Dragon Kings the power to change to human long before the war between dragons and humans. Since the war, the Dragon Kings have held a few of Ulrik's silver dragons asleep in the caves at Dreagon. The story claims this event happened a million or more years ago, which always leads me to questions about human evolution. That said, the fantasy involving these mythological groups who keep secret the fantasy of magic from humans remains intriguing.