To balance all the young adult reviews, I’ve got a couple of adult books coming up, as in R-rated. These are clearly meant to be fan-pleasers and not literary award nominees. The first one is by Shana Abe, and is billed as a “fantasy romance.”

The drakon are a race with magical powers. Some of the men are very powerful and can shape change through a smoke phase to dragons, but the women seem to have lost this power. The group has a community in the English countryside about a nine-hour carriage ride from London, and the ruling council strictly controls the activities of all the drakon to make sure they aren’t discovered. Rue is half human and thinks she is unwanted in the community because of this. She fakes her own death by drowning and runs away to London. Years later she has learned that she can make the change to dragon form, and uses the smoke phase to become a successful thief. When she tries to steal one of the drakon diamonds, she is discovered by Christoff, the current lord of the tribe, captured and taken back to his manor house. Although the council would like to execute her for running away and risking their safety, she makes a deal to help them find another smoke thief who is operating in London. She and Christoff set off to spend a fortnight looking for the thief. During their time together, they remember how attracted they were to one another as teenagers. Christoff thinks Rue is his natural mate because of the way she can change, but she wants her freedom. Eventually they have to work out these different desires.

This has a fairly common romance plot with little in the way of surprises. Rue has managed to overcome her early self-esteem issues and established a free life for herself. She has to make a decision about whether she wants to give this up for love. The introduction of the drakon is a nice addition here, and London and the English countryside have their charms. It’s generally well-written with believable characters, but it’s definitely an adult book. The sex is minimal, but the whole thing reads like erotica. Every encounter between the main characters is dripping with lust. I’m not a huge romance fan, but this is well-done for what it is. Three stars.