Dragon on Top

By: G. A. Aiken

Series: Dragon Kin (Author's Recommended Order)

Book Number: 4.5

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Ghleanna the Decimator is a warrior dragon who knows no fear, but ever since being unceremoniously dumped by a jerk of a dragon in front of her own troops, she's been holed up in her cave, drowning her sorrows in ale. Then the queen summons her to court, where she tasks Ghleanna with protecting and escorting Bram the Merciful through dangerous territory so that he can negotiate a treaty. Although Bram is easy on the eyes, Ghleanna feels that bodyguard duty is beneath her skills, until their party is attacked by traitors to the crown and she nearly dies defending her charge.

Bram the Merciful has been madly in love with Ghleanna from afar for decades, but she barely seems to know he exists. When the queen insists that Ghleanna escort him to his peace treaty summit, he fears it will be a torturous journey, wanting a female he can't have and who practically ignores him. But when Ghleanna is mortally wounded in battle trying to save him, Bram tries to return the favor by saving her the only way he knows how, by taking them to the underwater kingdom of the sea dragons. However, the empress of the Fins isn't entirely happy to see them, and might be more inclined to kill them on sight. If Bram can use his superior diplomatic skills to keep them alive, will he also finally be able to convince Ghleanna to take a chance on him as her mate?


"Dragon on Top" is a long novella that falls between Last Dragon Standing and The Dragon Who Loved Me in G. A. Aiken's Dragon Kin series, as per the author's recommended reading order, although chronologically it's the fourth story of the series. Ghleanna the Decimator is a brave warrior who isn't afraid of anything, but after getting dumped by a jerk of a dragon who thought she was nothing but a whore like her father used to be, she's been drowning her sorrows in ale. Then she's summoned to Queen Rhiannon's court and tasked by Her Majesty to escort and protect Bram the Merciful on his journey to secure an alliance with the Sand Dragons. She enlists the help of her wacky family, but along the way, they're accosted by traitors to the queen and Ghleanna is badly wounded. With her brothers fighting off the attackers, Bram must act quickly to save Ghleana's life, and with their backs against the ocean, he sees no other option but to take her to the home of the Sea Dragons, someplace he never thought to return. The Fins reluctantly help, but their empress demands Bram secure a truce with Rhiannon in exchange for their safety, something that Bram isn't sure he can accomplish even with his superior diplomatic skills. During their sojourn under the sea, Bram finds it difficult to fight his long-standing affection for Ghleanna, while she finally gets acquainted with the dragon she'd previously barely known existed. She comes to realize that in order to achieve the true love she's looking for, perhaps it's time she tries a different kind of dragon. And if they can get out of their situation alive, maybe she and Bram can have a happy ending after all.

Ghleanna is the ultimate warrior woman, a soldier born and bred, like most of the members of the Cadwaladr clan. Since her brother, Bercelak, is the queen's consort, Ghleanna is familiar with the court, but as commoners, she and her family spend most of their time on the battlefield, which suits her just fine. Ever since she was dumped by a dragon who made her look bad in front of her troops, she's been holed up in her cave drinking ale to forget. Then Rhiannon calls upon her to escort Bram to the land of the Sand Dragons. Ghleanna isn't very happy about what she views as a babysitting mission that's beneath her skills, but she can't exactly say no to the queen. Then they're attacked and she's nearly killed, awakening in the Sea Dragon kingdom with Bram as the only familiar face. She can't deny that he's easy on the eyes, but not her usual type. She's always gone for her fellow warriors, while Bram is a bookish diplomat, but after sharing a kiss with him, she starts to think that maybe she's been looking in the wrong places for love all along. Overall, I thought Ghleanna was a pretty good heroine. She's definitely a tough girl, which doesn't always work well for me in a romance heroine, but I like that she actually seemed to want love and didn't fight the idea of being with Bram even though he was different than other dragon males she's been with. She's also happy to relinquish the reigns in the bedroom. I thought it was cute as well how she earned the respect of the Sea Dragon soldiers.

Bram is a high-born noble in Queen Rhiannon's court and her most trusted diplomat who has secured many a peace treaty. He's been head-over-heels in love with Ghleanna from afar ever since he met her decades ago, but she barely seems to know he exists, something that she, in her blunt honesty, keeps reminding him of, until he's about ready to throw in the towel. Because of his attraction and her seeming indifference, he isn't much happier about the queen pairing them together for the journey, and when she includes several of her other wacky family members, he's even less enthused. But when Ghleanna is mortally wounded and Bram is the only one who can save her, he risks everything to go back to the Fins' territory, a place where he had a very bad experience in the past, in hopes of getting her help. The empress isn't happy to see him, but reluctantly agrees to assist in exchange for a truce with Rhiannon. It's something Bram isn't sure he can manage, but for Ghleanna he'll do anything. While there, he's thrilled when Ghleanna finally starts to see him for who he really is. I adored Bram. He's so smart and cultured, and generally all about promoting peace, which makes him about as close to a beta hero as we've seen in this series. He bears some similarity to Ragnar (Last Dragon Standing), but unlike Ragnar who is both an intellectual and a warrior, Bram is mostly just an intellectual. He's not without defensive capabilities that he's not afraid to use to protect Ghleanna, but his brain is his primary weapon. While I wouldn't characterize him as a dominant in the bedroom, he's definitely not averse to taking charge in his own sweet way, showcasing what a generous and thoroughly delicious lover he can be.

I have to admit that "Dragon on Top" didn't turn out entirely the way I expected. I honestly thought Bram and Ghleanna were going to take a trip to the land of the Sand Dragons but then they instead end up in Sea Dragon territory, a place that couldn't be more opposite. It was kind of cool, though, to learn about a new group of dragons. However, I couldn't help feeling like the plot was a little unfocused. A lot happens for a novella, when I thought that tighter storytelling would have been better for this shorter format. I loved Bram and liked Ghleanna, but their characterizations aren't particularly deep. I honestly wasn't feeling a connection between them for about the first third or so of the story. Ghleanna just doesn't seem to have any interest at all in Bram until he saves her life, which kind of put a damper on the romance for me. It did improve later in the story, but they still didn't have many genuinely romantic moments together. While I understand the nature of the Cadwaladr Clan as being slightly crazy but lovable goofballs, I felt like there was a little too much zany bantering and lack of respect for personal space early on. I know it was supposed to be funny, but in real life, it would drive me batty and it wasn't much different in book form. This improved somewhat once Bram and Ghleanna were away from her family in the underwater kingdom, but even then a couple of characters kept walking into their bedroom without even knocking first which was annoying. While there were only a couple of steamy scenes, they were very well done, so those and my love for the main characters helped to keep this novella from falling below four stars for me. It definitely wasn't perfect, but overall not a bad little read. "Dragon on Top" was originally published in the anthology, Supernatural, but was later re-released as a stand-alone ebook.

Note: This novella contains a small amount of explicit language that is typically reserved for the erotic subgenre and which sensitive readers may find objectionable, but the content of the love scenes are on par with most steamy romances.


G. A. Aiken


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