Darius en Kragin, a dragon of Atlantis sees no colours and feels no emotions, he desires nothing from his immortal life other than the protection of Atlantis from those humans who live on the surface that would see his underwater city pillaged of its treasures and his people brutalised. Since his families violent death at the hands of such people Darius has protected one of the few portals into Atlantis viciously and without remorse, killing anyone who passed through whether they be innocent travellers or hardened soldiers or indeed man, women or child. But when a women emerges who carries with her a Dragon Medallion, something that only a dragon warrior possesses and a treasure forged by the very gods who banished the creatures of Atlantis to their city so long ago, can Darius kill her when she posses so many questions and seems to be able to lift the greyness that has been his existence and reawaken his deadened senses?
There is something missing in Grace Carlyle life. To fill the void she has become an adrenalin junky but nothing works for long. So she jumps at the chance to travel to the Amazon jungle after receiving a strange necklace from her myth investigating brother Alex. She begins to regret her decision when she finds herself lost in the middle of the jungle, with no water after her guide legs it and no sign of her brother Alex. Well a bad day turns into a horrendous one as she stumbles into a truly bizarre land and gets accosted by a sword wielding hulk of a man with the promise of death in his eyes!
I've wanted to read this book for awhile now but have waited for it to be rereleased. I think it's important to say that if you're like me and have read some of Showalter's later books before reading this that the quality of writing here isn't as high as her `Lords of the Underworld' books. Her work has clearly improved a lot since this book. There are a few things that annoyed me when reading; first is the how the dynamic between Grace and Darius is written, there are passages and passages of the two characters just DESCRIBING each other as they fight their mutual attraction. It's lessened when they finally get together and seems to be born from their sexual frustration and growing lust but still it really bugged me. Also I didn't warm to Darius, I found him incredibly patronising and a little dull, he's one of the more classical alpha males I've read in a while or in other words a bit of a you know what! Also I know Showalter has a tendency to do this, but why make Grace a virgin? It doesn't fit into the plot let alone her characterisation, this formula bugs me because I don't get it but it appears in so many romance novels! Also Atlantis itself wasn't fully realised and with enough flare to really sparkle but this is partly to do with the plot itself and the fact that much of the time it is Darius finding wonder in our world and as a result we don't see or learn much of Atlantis.
I'd still recommend this book, it's the beginning of what I think (or hope) will be an ever improving series, I'll likely read the others as I'm really looking forward to `The Vampires Bride' which is out in March (2009). The highlights in `Heart of the Dragon' are Showalter's witty and quirky style with a healthy dose of silliness - the villain sits on a throne made from the bones of his enemies for crying out loud! - and her ba-boom-chush humour, which I love. Also I really got into the book by the last hundred pages, the characters had really grown and the story started to pick up momentum. There are also some well placed and intriguing sub stories and secondary characters that I am excited to know more about, Showalter definitely has a talent for creating a diverse and individual cast of characters for her books and in this case species too, with all the different beings here and the interesting burgeoning mythology I say bring on `Jewel of Atlantis'!