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Smoke Thief, The (Drakon) Mass Market Paperback – 26 Nov 2006
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Kit, the young leader of a mysterious tribe possessing the power to transform themselves into dragons, journeys to London to find a rogue dr kon who has been using his abilities to steal a fortune in jewels, but when he sets a trap for the culprit, he comes face to face with a beautiful and enigmatic young woman. Reprint.
About the Author
Shana Abé is the award-winning author of nine novels, including The Smoke Thief. She lives in the Denver area with four surly pet house rabbits, all rescued, and a big goofy dog. Please, please support your local animal shelter, and spay or neuter your pets.
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By 1751, London is abuzz with the news of another successful robbery; the individual dubbed the "smoke thief" has struck again. Only a few people realise this increasingly infamous thief isn't human but drákon. Aware that this "runner" (a rogue drákon) risks exposing the tribe, the drákon Council decree the runner be captured and returned to Darkfrith for punishment. Christoff Langdon (Kit), Earl of Chasen and Alpha male of the tribe heads to London to find the thief, taking with him as bait the most powerful and desirable diamond the gem loving drákon possess, the "herte" (the heart of the tribe).
Catching the thief, Kit is amazed that not only is she a woman, but a female able to Turn. Taking Rue (aka Clarissa) back to Darkfrith, he secures an agreement that should she fail to find the Herte within 2 weeks, she will willingly return to Darkfrith as his wife. What Rue fails to realise is that Kit is fully determined that she return with him, willingly or not and take her rightful place as female Alpha. Rue is equally determined that she not fall back into the life of an ostracised Halfling in Darkfrith, her drákon blood tainted by a human father. On her 17th birthday (left uncelebrated by the tribe) she discovered she could fully shift; the first female in four generations with the ability. Assuming her role of Alpha female of the tribe, she would be forced to wed an Alpha male - Kit. Despite loving him even then, she never wanted an arranged union between them, and knowing that strict drákon code would never allow her to leave Darkfrith, she faked her own death and fled to London, gaining wealth and infamy as the "smoke thief".
With another "runner" thief in possession of "herte", Rue finds herself assisted by Kit, his presence leaving her struggling with both her attraction to the man she still loves and her resolution to not return to Darkfrith as he wants. Kit in turn finds it increasingly difficult to control his inner beast around Rue, a woman he very much wants willingly to return to their tribe. Despite the importance of retrieving the diamond, the pair soon face another problem; when injured, Kit loses his ability to control his shifting, and soon London is gossiping not only of stolen diamonds but also of dragons flying across the Thames.
I happened to stumble across this author whilst browsing, and intrigued by her titles and spurred on by the positive reviews she'd received, decided to give "The Smoke Thief" a read. I'm so glad I did; this is a great book! Although not as dark and action packed as Sherrilyn Kenyon's Darkhunter series, and without the humour of Gena Showalter's fantasy romances, SA wove an entertaining tale and I will certainly snap up copies of her other works. I am also pleased to discover that a sequel to this book, "The Dream Thief" is due for publication in Sept 06.
Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages
Let's talk about the cover first! It's gorgeous! It depicts the story quite accurately: wispy, smoky, green background, a jeweled tittle (new word for me!) and a golden dragon on the cover! Just perfect :D
You can't really categorize this book as it falls into many different types of subgenres: historical, fantasy, romance and paranormal. The characters are very different and the storyline is quite intriguing.
The Drakon are a secret and ancient race of shape-shifting dragons, from the hills of northern England who, walk and live amongst humans in secret. Clarissa Hawthorne (Rue) is a halfling Drakon who is an insignificant speck amongst the tribe's pure blood Drakon. Christoff Langford, Earl of Chasen is the alpha heir to the tribe and Rue has always been in love with him since childhood. Rue fakes her own death and runs from the tribe's oppressive and confining rules, a crime punishable by death according to Drakon law. She lives a secret life as "The Smoke Thief", stealing precious jewels from Georgian England's richest ton. The Drakon suspect the thief is a runner and one of their own and baits "him" with the tribe's most precious commodity:the Langford Diamond. Imagine Kit's surprise when he encounters Rue as the suspected jewel thief and a female Drakon who can Turn (from human to Drakon and vice versa), which hasn't happened in a very long time. Rue and Christoff are the tribes' alphas by default which places them in the predicament of figuring out not only their tribal obligations but their personal feelings for each other under new circumstances.
The book starts off interesting enough with the blurb and draws you into the Drakon world, but one thing I noticed was how heavy it was on the purple prose. I'm usually a sucker for lyrical descriptions but I found the prose too heavy at times and somewhat distracting as I had to re-read sentences to grasp their meaning. The romance is a marriage of convenience theme and is very lukewarm. Towards the end, I didn't feel like the relationship between the characters had blossomed into love despite their professions to each other. I also didn't feel like I had insight into Christoff as I really didn't like him as a hero. He is almost like an anti-hero as he treats Rue poorly, blackmails her, lies to her and says some really nasty things. The sex scenes also always seemed focused on his pleasure rather than Rue's. The romance between them takes a backstep to the diamond quest and the tribal happenings. I don't need a romance to be full of descriptive scenes of love, but I do expect to feel like a couple are made for each other and I didn't feel that depth of complexity or development in this relationship.
I would recommend this book however, even though I didn't enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. I recommend it for those who are timid about foraying into the romance genre, as it has enough elements to classify it as a romance novel. The romance is secondary so it does contain a nice romance novel style taster without being too full on. I also recommend it for those looking for a out-of-a-slump book. That's what I used this book for and it worked to get me out of a historical romance slump. Even though it wasn't the greatest read, it was not the worst and it had a fascinating combination of genres. I do anticipate this book being a hit or a miss with readers, depending on what you are looking for in your reading!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The Smoke Thief is a daring thief that is confounding London police. His wealthy victims say the master burglar can walk through walls and vanish into thin air.
Christoff, the charismatic Marquess of Langford, knows the thief is no ordinary human but a "runner" who's fled Darkfrith without permission. He is alpha leader of the dra'kon, and its his duty to capture the fugitive before the secrets of the tribe are revealed to mortals. But even Kit doesn't suspect that the smoke thief could be a woman.
Clarissa Rue Hawthorne knew her exploits would attract the attention of the dra'kon. But she didn't expect Christoff himself to come to London. He dangles the tribe's most valuable jewel---the Langdon Diamond---as bait. As long as Clarissa could remember, she has lived life as an outcast---half dra'kon, half mortal. She has always loved Kit from the only place that was safe: from afar. She is no longer the shy, timid girl she once was. She is the first woman capable of making the Turn in four generations. She doesn't understand why she still feels the same dizzying sense of vulnerability whenever he's around.
From the moment Kit saw her, he knew the alluring and powerful beauty was every bit his Alpha equal and destined to be his bride. They will risk banishment and worse for a chance at something greater. Rue is his prisoner, the diamond has disappeared, and Clarissa's made the kind of dangerous proposition a man like Kit cannot resist. Great story.
What's the romance about? Rue loved Christoff as a teen but ran away because she didn't think he would love her back. As adults, he says and shows that he wants her as his one true mate, but she continues to avoid the relationship because she believes he does not truly love her. I wanted more relationship development than that.
Sex scenes were there, but nothing memorable. There's a hint of rape in the first scene, but not really. She didn't agree, but she didn't fight. She said "What are you doing?" We weren't in her head to see if she desired sex. He just did it. From her point of view it hurt.
Plot conflicts were not well done. Rue and Christoff are searching for the runner who escaped them earlier. When Rue sees him she sneaks off instead of telling Christoff. I did not understand that. A weak character with no means of defense wants to help and follows the runner without telling anyone. Of course the runner grabs him and uses him as a hostage. These things didn't do anything for me. They felt formulaic.
The story setup was interesting. Drakons are humans who shift into smoke and also into flying dragons. Their mission is to keep their existence secret from humans. They live together in a tribe. If someone leaves the tribe they execute him. Christoff is the strongest drakon and therefore the leader. He must marry the strongest female.
Another reviewer's comment:
I loved the comment by Amazon reviewer Emily Y Teng: "Christoff never made it past that kid in college swaggering around with women leaking out of his ears."
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: 324 pages. Swearing language: mild including religious swear words, but rarely used. Sexual language: mild. Number of sex scenes: 5. Setting: 1737 to 1751 England. Copyright: 2005. Genre: historical paranormal romance.
Sometimes people need the opportunity to escape the the rigors of the world, especially the political rollercoaster under this administration. This book provided that much needed escape!