Channon McRae is a medieval history scholar who is trying to unravel the mysteries behind an ancient dragon tapestry. One night while she is studying it in the museum, a handsome stranger approaches her, introducing himself as Sebastian and telling her stories about the tapestry. Channon thinks he is just joking around to charm her, but she feels herself being inexplicably drawn to him in spite of herself. When Sebastian invites her to dinner, she can't seem to resist, and when he drives her back to her hotel late that evening, neither of them want to break the connection they've made. The two share an intense night of passion together, but even though Sebastian feels things for Channon that he has never felt before, he knows he must leave. He is a dragon shifter on a mission to steal the tapestry and return it to his own time in the Middle Ages to save his brother's life. It soon becomes apparent to Sebastian that Channon is his mate, and when he realizes this, he is torn between his duty to his brother and his duty to her. If Sebastian leaves Channon behind, she will be in danger from his enemies and he will spend eternity alone. Yet, staying in her time will endanger his own life and his brother is certain to die.
I found Dragonswan to be an interesting departure from Sherrilyn Kenyon's usual writing style. I admit that I have only read a handful of her stories, but of the ones I have read to date, her style seems to be a combination of humorous and touching. Dragonswan had a little of both of these characteristics, but seemed much more serious in it's presentation of the mythological angle. It is related to the Dark-Hunters series, and I think that perhaps it is meant to present some extra history of that fantasy world. I'm a very detail-oriented person and consider myself to be pretty good at following complex story lines, but there were many names of characters and species that seemed to come out of left field when they were first mentioned, leaving me dazed and confused. Admittedly, a second read-through of certain passages cleared up some of my befuddlement, but I still finished the story feeling like there were gaps in the narrative and more questions yet to be answered. Perhaps some of these issues will be addressed in future Dark-Hunter installments, but I came away from this story with the feeling that they probably won't.
I liked both Sebastian and Channon, but felt like their characters were not fully developed. I am usually quite accepting of the concept of paranormal creatures falling instantly in love with their soulmate, but it didn't really work for me here. I think there were several reasons for this. One is that I am simply not a big fan of the hero and heroine falling into bed with one another at the first available opportunity, unless they have some prior relationship (e.g. friends, co-workers, etc.). Another reason is the previously cited lack of character development, which made it difficult for me to grasp their love connection, especially for Channon who was human and as such still had the free will to choose. That's not to say that Sebastian wasn't appealing. He certainly was, at least on a physical level, but I just didn't feel like I had enough background on him to form a deep emotional bond with his character. Lastly, Sebastian was initially not happy when the mating mark appeared, even though he had experienced more peace and pleasure with Channon than any other woman in his very long life. I also don't recall him ever telling Channon that he loved her, which is usually a must for me. On the plus side, Sebastian and Channon's scenes together were fairly romantic and the love scenes were spicy, but just seemed to lack Ms. Kenyon's usual flair for combining steamy passion with heart-stopping tenderness. Overall, I thought that Dragonswan was a good story that I mostly enjoyed reading, but I thought that it would have been much better as a longer novella or perhaps even a full-length novel, where more details could have been added to fill in some of the blanks.
Dragonswan used to be considered the third book in the Dark-Hunter series, and I read it in that order. It has since been reclassified as a related novella. Dragonswan was previously published in the anthology, Tapestry, was reprinted in a single-volume format, and republished again in the Other Worlds anthology. As such it is a very short book at only 86 pages. No characters from the first two Dark-Hunter stories appear in Dragonswan, and at this point, I am not certain whether any Dragonswan characters appear in future Dark-Hunter installments. I have the feeling though, that there are no carry-over characters in either direction, and Dragonswan is really more of a stand-alone story that is simply part of the Dark-Hunter world. There are currently a total of 17 full-length novels in the Dark-Hunter series and quite a number of related novellas and graphic novels as well, with more still to come. For a complete listing of all the books and the order in which they should be read, check out Sherrilyn Kenyon's website. Even though Dragonswan didn't quite capture my attention like the first two stories I read in the Dark-Hunter series, I still look forward to continuing it soon. Sherrilyn Kenyon also writes historical romance under the name Kinley MacGregor.
Note: Ms. Kenyon changed the ordering and organization of her Dark-Hunter series twice in 2009. We will endeavor to keep up with any future changes as well, but readers are advised to check her website for the most up-to-date information on the series.
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