cover image Dragon Soul

Dragon Soul

Katie MacAlister. Grand Central/Forever, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-4555-5927-5

MacAlister’s third Black Dragons supernatural contemporary (after Dragon Storm) starts out looking like an endearing and quirky entry in a well-established universe, but it quickly becomes an irritating recitation of paranormal romance clichés. Tour guide Sophea Long’s husband was killed in an accident just after they spoke their vows. She’s hired by his cousin to escort a hilariously scandal-prone old woman from her home in California to a Nile River cruise that’s leaving from Cairo. Flames of the literal and metaphorical varieties get started when Rowan Dakar, an alchemist turned sociologist, rescues Sophea from the demons who want to rob the elderly woman and informs her that the man Sophea married was a dragon, meaning that she has the powers of a dragon’s mate. The amusing and quirky whirlwind tour of the Amazon bogs down into a tedious and often obnoxious slog as Sophea’s oblivious ignorance breaks its comic limit. The plot consistently answers her brash assertions of competent badassery by turning her into a damsel in distress whose only consistent achievement is managing Rowan’s unhinged masculine lusts. Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary. (Apr.)