Title: Darkfire Kiss
Author: Deborah Cooke
Copyright: 2011 (Signet); 394 pgs.
Series: Dragonfire #6
Genre: Paranormal Romance
**** Review contains SPOILERS ****
From the back: Rafferty Powell has exchanged challenge coins with his arch-nemesis, Magnus Montmorency, and their next battle will be their last. But Rafferty never expects to meet a woman whose desire for Magnus’s downfall matches his own — and whose presence sparks Rafferty’s long-awaited firestorm. Since facing her own mortality, investigative reporter Melissa Smith has resolved to live without fear. She’s determined to make the seemingly untouchable Magnus pay for his role in ending her friend’s life — no matter what the price to herself. When Melissa’s quest entwines with Rafferty’s, she finds herself risking more than she ever thought possible. Because the heat between them unleashes the darkfire — an awesome force of Pyr legend, one that won’t be sated until everything they know has been tested and remade.
What I liked.
I still love the world of the Pyr. New characters were introduced in this book, paving the way for the next wave of adult novels. It also set up important pieces of the story arc of her Young Adult series, the Dragon Diaries, featuring Zoë. I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes us next.
I also enjoyed learning Rafferty’s back story. Eileen, Erik’s mate, must love talking to him. He can confirm what parts of famous legends and stories are truth and what are poetic license. This is my favorite part of the novel. We also learn how he met Magnus and how their lives are intertwined.
What I didn’t like.
Melissa Smith, the heroine. I tried very hard not to compare her to the others and keep an open mind about her thought processes, but she annoyed me to the point that I nearly put the book down for good. I was able to finish it because of the things I liked about the story (Rafferty, the darkfire itself, what Rafferty was protecting, the setups for the other books, etc.)
Before I go into what I didn’t like about her, I’ll mention a few things that worked for me, up to a point: she was determined to find justice for the young woman she felt personally responsible for getting killed. And like the others, she kept her head in dicey situations and didn’t have a major freak-out fest over the existence of dragons.
Melissa is a journalist. She knows that Magnus is responsible for the death of her friend and she knows he’s not a good guy. In fact, she’s sure he’s an arms dealer. To prove it, she decides to break into his home and steal his appointment diary. Not the smartest thing to do, but she’s motivated by her sense of justice. She finds what she’s looking for, but she also encounters Rafferty and Magnus. They shift into dragon form and Rafferty ends up having to save her life — he doesn’t know yet that she’s his mate, the firestorm hasn’t begun. Life in danger or not, Melissa doesn’t pass up the chance to snap some pictures of the dragons.
That’s when Melissa started to annoy me. She decided that the world must learn the truth, that there really are dragons out there! Melissa wants to be the one that breaks the story. She’s looking to get back into the field and feels this is the story to make it happen. Frankly, I don’t know how she could rationalize that. Wasn’t she the least bit worried that she might be ridiculed and written off as a hack? And some investigative journalist she is, she doesn’t do any further research! She decides photographic proof is good enough. For half a minute, she thinks about not publishing the pictures, but then she realizes that Rafferty took the diary from her and in a fit of self-righteous anger publishes the picture on her blog. She’s mad because Rafferty stole something she took, yet she deceived him about the pictures (though he doesn’t know that either — yet).
The part that almost had me tossing the book aside was how she misleads Rafferty after he explained what a firestorm meant. Rafferty, being the most romantic and most beta-like hero of the Pry, believes in the partnership — the companionship — that comes with the mating; having a child is just an added bonus. He’s been patiently waiting for this woman for centuries.
Once she learns that satisfying the firestorm means conception, she doesn’t bother telling him she can’t have children. She just agrees to sate the firestorm. She already knows what it’s like to make love to Rafferty — they got all hot and steamy after he rescued her, but before the firestorm — and wants one more round of hot sex before she tells him the truth and he rejects her for it: she had uterine cancer and is unable to have his child.
Here are some thoughts going through Rafferty’s mind after she agrees to state the firestorm (Rafferty has a very formal internal voice):
He told her about the firestorm, fully anticipating that such an independent woman would refuse the burden of bearing his child. He’d been certain that his firestorm was doomed and that the darkfire would burn long and vigorously.
And. . .
On the other hand, he appreciated that Melissa was forthright and that she didn’t shirk from the hard truths. He’d known he could tell her the full story and she would rationally decide how to proceed. Even if he guessed what her answer might be, he owed her that explanation.
Oh, Rafferty. If Melissa had been as forthright as he thought she was, she would have been up front with him. It’s only after Erik practically rakes Rafferty over the coals for failing to do his duty that Rafferty finally get the truth from her. As an aside, how did Erik miss hearing them — they find him in Rafferty’s kitchen, mere minutes after they had sex.
All the other mates have been pretty direct about their reasons for not satisfying the firestorm — leaving it up to the dragon dudes to win them over. Heck, Melissa could have just told him no and left it at that, without further explanation. But she said yes. . .because she wanted him to make love to her again. I couldn’t respect her for that. It seems so cowardly and deceitful.
I was a little disappointed in Rafferty. His defense of Melissa made me grit my teeth. But I realized that was just what made Rafferty, well, Rafferty. He’s so old, he has a different perspective about relationships. He believes in the firestorms and the destined mates. He would never betray or purposely hurt Melissa. He’s such a wonderful guy and I hated her for not seeing this. Granted, she’s hasn’t known him long, but she knew enough about him to know he was a very conscientious person.
One last thing. I said earlier that I admired Melissa’s quest for justice — up to a point. Her goal was to bring Magnus to justice. Human justice. She pursued that line, even after she learned he was a dragon. I couldn’t see the logic in that. No law enforcement organization in the world could hold him, yet Melissa still does a story. I can understandit if it was just to tell Daphne’s story to the world — but the impression I got was that she was aiming for his arrest.
Despite my ranting here, I enjoyed the majority of the book. I would even say that I would re-read it at some point.
Start: 25 May 2011
Finished: 29 May 2011