Review: Dragon's Maid

Dragon's Maid was another one of the book deals I took advantage of for National Fairytale Day. It's the 9th book in a series called Love's Enchanted Tales by Kimberly A. Rogers. In't that the most princessy name for a book series ever? I was able to jump right into the story without feeling like I missed eight books worth of content, so it definitely works as a standalone. It's a romance between a human girl and a shapeshifting dragon who takes on the form of a human man. Judging by the descriptions of the other books on Kimberly's website, most of the ones from this series are about human girls falling in love with shapeshifting dragons, so I'm not sure how much variety it has aside from each book drawing inspiration from a different fairy tale. That said, if Dragon's Maid is any indication of what the other Love's Enchanted Tales books are like, I would strongly recommend anything from this series.

To say that Dragon's Maid is a retelling of "Cinderella" as Kimberly A. Rogers does on her website is misleading. The book contains some small elements of the famously overexposed fairy tale, but it's an original story at heart, which is a good thing. Kimberly A. Rogers does an amazing job at building a unique fantasy world around the strained ties between humans and dragons. It starts out with the familiar-sounding tale of an abused girl named Damaris living with a wicked stepmother and less wicked stepsister, but she quickly gets sold off as an indentured servant and becomes a cinder maid not for her own family but for an estate owned by an earl named Tancred. I found Damaris difficult to relate to at the beginning of the book because she was such a passive character, but once she meets Tancred after an unnecessary three-year time jump, I was barely able to put it down. Damaris's humility upon earning the earl's favor when she learned his secret was just as admirable his Tancred's desire to protect her and give her a better life.

The thing that stood out to me the most about Dragon's Maid was the love interest. Paranormal romance often forgoes giving the love interest a personality in favor of expanding upon the supernatural aspect. For me, the most attractive quality in a prince is honor, which Tancred has in droves. The dragons in this world are loyal and honorable creatures who would do anything to protect the ones they care about. When Tancred asks Damaris to be his companion, the first thing she assumes is that he wants her as a concubine, and she refuses with the proper level of outrage. What made Tancred so adorably innocent was that it took him several more chapters before he finally realizes how Damaris had interpreted the request. Even after the misunderstanding was cleared up, he still had trouble comprehending how such an arrangement between an earl and a maid would be perceived by the rest of the staff at the estate and expressed concern about Damaris's reputation like a true gentleman.

Most of the conflict in the story revolves around other people living in Tancred's estate that are jealous of the attention he gives to Damaris and the nature of their relationship, which is beautiful and pure. Unfortunately, the end of the book makes Damaris into an even more passive character, but by that point I cared so much about Tancred that it didn't matter anymore. The best parts were the romantic moments that they shared together as their romance blossomed. There was also a political subplot that I didn't have much interest in, but it never detracted from the main plot enough to be cumbersome. It was touching to see how much Tancred trusted Damaris with his secret and how passionate she was about keeping it due to the rising tensions between humans and dragons. Their devotion to each other in such trying times was heartwarming.

Overall, I enjoyed Dragon's Maid way more than I expected to, and I'm curious about the other books in Love's Enchanted Tales. If you are expecting a traditional "Cinderella" retelling, prepare to be disappointed. However, if you love sweet paranormal romance, this book will not let you down. Damaris is a humble and honorable protagonist with a mind of her own, and Tancred is adorably naive and honorable. Many of the other books in the series sound similar to this one, so I doubt there's a wrong book to start with if a different one piques your personal tastes more than this one does.


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