Tour’s Books Blog

October 10, 2009

Book Review: Dragons Prefer Blondes by Candace Havens

  • Title: Dragons Prefer Blondes
  • Author: Candace Havens
  • Type: Chick-lit Paranormal Romance; Series
  • Genre: Kick-ass fashionista heroine; Caruthers Sisters Book 2
  • Sub-genre: Paris Hilton does Mercy Thompson
  • My Grade: C+ (3.3*)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Where Available: Everywhere books are sold
  • FTC disclosure: Purchased book on Amazon; I receive no compensation of any type for hyperlinks in this post

After The Demon King and I, not my favorite book, I felt oddly compelled to read the next book in this series in hopes I end up liking the next sister, Alexa, better.  Overall, I found Dragons Prefer Blondes a classic first-person, light, breezy book of the chick-lit genre, but the heroine remains remarkably dumb, or more correctly, blindly unobservant and not a critical thinker.  Dragons Prefer Blondes did have some of the annoying elements from The Demon King and I –  fighting first and thinking last and the supposedly less intelligent other species showing far more intelligence than the Guardians do!  The problem with chick-lit is the chronic faulty logic of the genre.

Alex Caruthers is a jet set club owner who is also the Guardian for the dragon world.  The current leader of the dragons is Ginjin and he’s decided that to escape his arranged marriage, he will marry Alex.  There’s the little problem of his trying to kill her, several times.  And the fact he isn’t exactly fond of her, nor she of him, but he needs a powerful wife to keep his intended away so he can save his planet and she’s his best bet.  Alex lies through her teeth and claims she has a serious relationship.  Odd, the whole time she was talking about her non-existent boyfriend, she was thinking of the good-looking head of Caruthers security department, Jake, a total hottie.  Ginjin isn’t thrilled by her refusal.  Alex is worried about what dear old Mom, who is all about the ‘greater good’, might do to keep peace and decides she needs a ‘pretend’ boyfriend – like Jake.

But Alex has bigger problems.  Dragons are stealing human females for the other-world slave trade.  For some reason the action is centered in Montreal,  Alex is convinced that Ginjin’s intended bride, Jene, is part to the illegal activity, but there’s no proof.  That the evil is leaking through a club in Montreal is a fact.  And that evil is the Manteros that she and her sisters fought against in the first book.  The evil Manteros are back and disguising themselves as humans to pass through the magic that confines in the club run by Graves that is actually a lure to confine the ‘illegal aliens.’ Her mother and the council has set these clubs up deliberately to attract wayward denizens from other planets that are illegally on Earth.

Threaded through this shallow story is an occasional appearance by an over-the-top spoiled rich girl ‘friend’ of Alex’s who is marrying an English lord and wants Alex to plan the wedding and receptions, several people from her clubs, and naturally, her sisters.  The story is face paced and void of substance.  I’m not opposed to mindless enjoyment, lord knows I watch action movies and love them!  But seriously, the Caruthers sister barely seem to share a brain, which makes no sense at all given their individual successful careers.  This story is mostly Alex fighting, getting badly injured, healing, and fighting some more.  In between she fumbles her way through trying to act on her attraction to Jake, does a damn fine job of leaping to conclusions, acts before thinking things through – in one case it’s the dragon she so disdains, Ginjin, who explains the whole thing is a trap to kill them both – and just generally  losing her temper and acting like more a teenager than an established and competent business woman.  On the whole, Alex is short tempered to the point of being self-destructive and seems to rely very heavily on the extraordinary healing abilities of a Guardian rather than intelligence.  I’m a big fan of strong female leads, but not dumb ones.  And therein is my main problem with this series, tough, kick-ass heroines who behave like immature, spoiled trust fund babies – only in this case, it’s their Guardian gifts.  With great responsibility at a young age normally comes great maturity and wisdom beyond age, but not here.  No wonder Mom scares them, they’ve grown older but not grown up.

My other problem is the set-up makes the reader think Jake would be a major character.  He isn’t.  He’s wallpaper.  Even the loss of his wife cancer is never fully explored, just a sort of an old and still painful wound.  The most interesting male characters are Ginjin the dragon leader, Graves the half faerie-half demon Death, and Mr. McMurphy the old Montreal pub owner mage.  Arath had a major role in The Demon King and I, and he was the saving grace of that book.   As a result of no single male lead, the book tends to be The Alex Story.  Despite all these short-comings, the story was better done than The Demon King and I.  Certainly Alex made a better narrator than Gilly, who dropped designer names constantly.  The story takes place within a week of the first book, yet there is a feel of much great time lapse, especially with the Gilly/Arath relationship, which confused me.  Credibility short comings stay the same, especially the whole public visibility of the Caruthers sisters vis à vis there Guardian responsibilities.

The sisters, highly trained and deadly warriors, appear to have a problem with thinking things through, seeing past the superficial to the hidden agenda.  Who trains a warrior’s body without also training their minds? A trained body has very limited use.  They rather conspicuously lack the kind of visceral insight and understanding needed for a true leader and a valuable warrior.  I am surprised a trained agent and former Marine like Jake didn’t see that conspicuous deficit and start training the woman he loves himself?  Despite imbuing the sisters with all these extraordinary healing abilities (they need them thanks to their blind stupidity) and great wardrobes, not to mention making them talented and successful business women, the plot has them repeatedly allow their emotions to over run good sense and reasoning ability.  The whole Paris Hilton does Mercy Thompson routine just drives me nuts.  I’m sure Ms Havens intended these character traits to be cute and endearing, but it didn’t work for me.

Now before all you chick-lit fans come after me with stakes, I know reality has no place in chick-lit romance, especially the paranormal ones.  It’s all about the vibe.  But I can only suspend by disbelief for so long and then that creepy little part of brain that has been snickering in the background breaks free and it’s all over.  The fundamental absurdity of the plot and characters just overwhelm the entertainment value – which is pretty limited for me.  Perhaps more to the point, as a romance, this didn’t really work for me.  Alex and her running around kept her relationship with Jake a slight secondary story and Jake himself relegated to a virtual bit player.  A lose-lose.

In an interesting note on continuity breaks between The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes is the hair color of the sisters.   One alert reviewer on Amazon noted that somehow Alex had a hair color change between Book 1 and 2.  I had been wondering about the apparent disconnects between the two books.  Several times I thought, “I don’t recall it being like that in the first book.”  Now curious soul that I am, I dug out the first book and checked.  Keep in mind, in Book 1 the hair color was emphasized to distinguish between the sisters – Gilly has light brown hair, Mira has bright red hair, Claire is blond, and Alex has (drum roll please) long black hair and brother Bailey has red hair.  LOL  There were other disconnects with the Gilly/Arath characters, but at least I knew it wasn’t just me that felt a half beat off the story.

Dragons Prefer Blondes has shallow characters running around in a threadbare story doing over-the-top fight scenes and generally living large, but nor wisely.  Sex in the City meets Die Hard.  As mindless entertainment it worked to a limited extent.  Ms Havens worked in TV and is a huge fan of the man who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It shows.  The fast, breezy, casual style makes for very easy reading short on logic and depth.  Just entertaining enough to be some fun, but NOT worth the insane price of the trade paperback – $10+ on Amazon.  Buy it used or borrow it from a friend.

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