(Las Vegas Dragons #3)
Author: Susannah Scott
Length: 225 pages
Publication Date: December 15th, 2014
Rating: 4 Stars
A paranormal category romance from Entangled's Covet imprint…
How To Claim Your Dragon...
As the head of security of Vegas's Crown Jewel casino―and its hidden dragonshifter sanctuary―ice dragon Darius Dachien commands respect. Unfortunately, that respect isn't always reciprocated. In fact, when it comes to the stunning Mei Chen, hostility might be a better word. Which makes things even harder for Darius, since Mei is his dragon mate. Without her, his dragon form is fading fast... and once lost, will be gone forever.
Mei can't deny the fierce chemistry that simmers between them. If Darius were ever to discover who―or rather, what―she really is, she wouldn't just lose him, but her place with the dragonshifters. The moment Mei's past comes crashing into her present, she realizes her time for secrets has ended. Now she must reveal her true self... and risk both her life and her heart with the one man who could destroy her. -Goodreads
Dragon Her Back
by Susannah Scott Copyright © 2014 by Susannah Scott. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
It occurred to Darius on Tuesday that his strategy with Mei was flawed, yet again.
By Wednesday, he’d read five relationship-guru bestsellers, re-read the psychology masters, and studied the top ten love blogs. He drew the line at watching a chick flick to help him find his inner empathy.
Over the years, he’d tried many different approaches to impress Mei: waiting, cajoling, attempts to make her jealous. Nothing swayed her. Asking his friend Alec, the King of the dragons, to talk to her on his behalf had failed so epically that after Alec’s chat with her, she wouldn’t stay in the same room with him. Although Mei was an ice dragon, like him, and loyal to the king, private relationships were private.
And enough was enough. It had been five years, ten months, and twenty-eight days since she’d been in his bed. He was determined to not hit the six-year mark without their bond completed. His dragon form was starting to wane
without his bond with Mei, and he didn’t want to risk losing his dragon form forever.
Hence, the new approach.
Darius strode to his office on the catwalk of the Crown Jewel Casino’s high-tech surveillance center. His notes from his online research on winning over Mei sat ready for him to parse in digital folders on his computer.
He frowned as he sat in his leather chair, picked up his stress ball, and squished it between his fingers. On his computer, he reopened a popular blog on love. It was mostly useless drivel: all love-is-the-answer, love-will-set-you-free, yada, yada. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in love. His parents had been mated for over fifty years. Their partnership was solid, based on compatibility and mutual goals.
He wanted that with Mei, but also with the back-in-his- bed part thrown in. After their one night together, he knew they had the hot sex part covered. So hot, the memory of it still scorched the back of his eyelids when he dreamed.
He scanned to the blog’s comments section. One poster, FoundMyTrueLOVE—obviously a woman—went on and on about how she’d tried an online dating service and found her True LOVE!!!! Whoa. Someone should tell her caps and four exclamation points just made her seem…unstable.
His interest perked at the description of an online service written by a more literate poster. Supposedly, for a small fee, the fine folks at LoveMatch used an algorithm to calculate from sixty questions with whom in their database their clients were most compatible.
Interesting. He should have thought of it himself.
Mei was compatible with him, whether she admitted it or not. She had his dragon mark on her hand to prove it,
which meant she was his destined mate. She covered it with makeup, but everyone knew she was his. If she remained unconvinced, maybe he could put her preferences into the algorithm and figure out the best way to approach her— become her perfect match.
Brilliant new plan.
He liked it.
Ten minutes later, he used his NSA-ready-computer skills to hack into the LoveMatch mainframe and found the questions and the mathematical weights given to each answer. As expected, the questionnaire funneled the responses, with the first questions carrying the highest weight.
How would Mei describe herself in five words?
How would he describe her, no problem: sexy as hell, secretive, and ambitious. Those choices weren’t listed, and none of the typical answers fit Mei.
He squeezed his stress ball until it oozed between his fingers. Would she consider herself dragon or human first? It was an existential question long argued by their people, the whole which-came-first: the reactionary dragon or the rational human. No one really knew the answer.
It galled him that he’d never seen her ice dragon form. There was nothing a dragon loved better than the dragon form of their mate. Mei stayed away from all the dragon- focused social events at the casino and kept to herself when she was hunting. He figured she withheld her dragon from him on purpose as a punishment—or because she worried she couldn’t resist him in her more bestial form.
Right. Keep dreaming.
He looked at the next question.
What is the first thing people notice about you?
Her lips. She wore red lipstick that accented her bow- shaped mouth. He loved her lips. He could imagine them wrapped around his cock even now, leaving a red circle…a brand. A red brand on his cock.
God, he was bad at this.
He was going to need some help.
Darius tapped on the executive office door, not surprised to find Leo’s wife, Tee, at work there. “Hey, you got a minute?” Tee straightened from her perusal of building plans on the conference table. She was Paiute Native American, and when she smiled, her angled cheekbones softened. “Sure, Come on in.”
“How’s the new site coming?” He entered the window-lined executive office and peered over Tee’s shoulder. The new site was a joint venture project between the Crown Jewel Casino and Tee’s Paiute Tribe. While the Crown Jewel was located on the swank Vegas strip, and secretly housed a dragon sanctuary in its top floors, this new site would be on tribal land and wholly human. The added revenue would do much to help the reservation’s depleted infrastructure.
“Good.” Tee smiled. “The tribe’s in agreement with the placement of the golf course, and we’ve found a low-impact builder. We should break ground this spring.”
“That’s great.” He rolled the paper with the list of questions he’d written from LoveMatch in his right hand, unsure how to ask about Mei.
Tee shifted her gaze to his hand. “What’s that?”
Darius sat in a conference chair, swiveling on his heels,
back and forth. Tee was one of Mei’s best friends despite being a human and not a dragon. But, after the fallout from the time she’d advised him to try and make Mei jealous, she’d maintained a strict you’re-on-your-own attitude to helping him with Mei.
Tee put her hands on her hips. “What is it? One of my old players acting up?” She referred to the impressive list of casino high rollers she used to hostess before she married Leo, the king’s right-hand man and the casino’s CEO of Operations.
“No. It’s Mei.”
“Lord have mercy.” Tee threw her hands up. “Not this again. I’ve told you a million times, talk directly to the woman.”
“I’ve got a new strategy.”
“Uh-huh.” Tee turned back to the plans, giving him her profile. Her long black hair swept a curtain between them, which he guessed was deliberate.
“I’ve just got a few questions about her that I can’t answer.”
“Why don’t you ask her yourself?”
“You know why. I haven’t actually seen her, in person, in months.”
Not since Alec had tried talking to her. She hadn’t even given Darius the satisfaction of a big blow up. She’d just gone ice princess on him. As an ice dragon himself, he knew something about frigid.
Mei made frigid look like a balmy day on the equator.
“Whose fault is that?” Tee met his gaze, and her dark brown eyes were solemn.
“Just a few questions.”
“All right,” Tee said. “Fire away.”
Relief coursed through him. “What five words would you use to describe Mei?”
“Loyal. Tidy. Focused. Driven. Funny.” Tee rattled them off without glancing up from blue prints for the Paiute Tribe development.
He compared his mental list. “Funny?” He supposed driven and ambitious could mean the same thing, but he never would have said funny.
“Yeah. She’s hysterical. You didn’t know that?”
He shook his head. He tried to remember if he’d ever heard her laugh.
Dismay that understanding Mei was forever beyond him coursed through his system. He had to change her mind. Failure was not an option. His strength was fading in a way that spoke of waning and not just a bad day at the gym. If he didn’t connect with his mate—Mei—soon, his dragon would disappear forever, leaving him mortal, weak, and alone.
He had to keep trying. “Her favorite food?”
Sushi. Had to be sushi. He’d watched her order it from the casino chef direct tons of times on the surveillance cameras.
“Yellowtail tuna sushi.”
He smiled wide. “What does her dragon look like?”
“I’ve never seen it.”
“What?” Surprise made him look up from his notes. Tee gave him her full attention. “You haven’t, either? I just figured it was because I was a human and all.” She shrugged. “You could ask Jane.”
Maybe it wasn’t that odd for Tee not to have seen her
dragon form. It was discouraged for them to shift except on the casino’s rooftop dragon sanctuary. They didn’t want the humans to guess the “mechanical” flying dragons that circled the fifty-two-story casino weren’t mechanical at all.
“I’m not one to give relationship advice…” Tee gave him a concerned look.
Classic. People always said they weren’t something—as if it nullified that they actually were the very things they disavowed. Tee was most definitely a busybody. It was why he came to her instead of Mei’s other best friend, Jane. Jane, a storm dragon, was the Fort Knox of sisterly solidarity. Tee was too soft to let him suffer in silence.
“Those questions,” Tee said. “They don’t tell you anything about Mei that really matters.”
“Thanks.” He stood, anxious now to add the information to the algorithm. “I’ve got it from here.”
“Sure you do.” Tee’s voice was sarcastic. “How many billions of people are there in the world?”
“A little over seven,” he answered easily. He also knew the exact breakdown of humans versus dragon-shifters country by country.
“I bet at least a hundred thousand people would answer your questions the same way I just did, but they’re no where close to being the same as Mei. People are complex. I know you’re used to dealing with codes and numbers that add up, but people aren’t a zero-sum equation.”
He nodded, straightening the edges of his paper before re-rolling it. “Thanks for your help.”
He headed back to his office, ready to feed the answers into the hacked algorithm to see what kind of man was Mei’s perfect match. When he opened the door to the security center, his hand shook, stopping his forward momentum. He stared for a second at the offending tremble, fury at his waning form making him clench his fists and stride forward. There was no option this time. He would win Mei over or lose his dragon form forever.
The dragons of the Vegas strip are back for a third tale and ready to roar.
Darius and Mei have a relationship that makes the term "rocky" seem like the understatement of the century. Things between these two have gotten so bad in fact, that they haven't slept together in almost six years.
The fact that these two not so 'lovebirds' have not been making sweet music together for so long is not only one that could spell the death if their young marriage. It is also one that could prove fatal to Darius' dragon form.Mei plays her role as 'ice queen' to the hilt, even though the mere thought of her mate's touch is enough to puddle all of her most private places.
You see, it's not that she doesn't want to be with Darius. She would love nothing more.
She simply can't; due to secrets about herself and her past that are earth-shattering enough to change the Dragon societal structure forever.
Making matters worse for Mei is the knowledge that a mysterious group of dragons belonging to a shadowy faction and with tenuous ties to recognized members of the Dragon hierarchy is due to make an appearance at the fabled Snow Gala.
This is a very high energy and fast paced read. The story is very cohesive and flows will except for a very few hiccups here and there.
It is very clear that this read is meant to be more about the story and less about the sex. That is why it is very surprising that more attention isn't given to the history and details surrounding the secrets and details of the all important rogue dragon faction. Leaving readers hungry to know more!
This lack of detail leads to a very sweet, but very hastily tied 'happily ever after' bow for Mei and Darius...and a rather convenient solution to what threatened to be a war making problem for most of the read.