When his grandfather forced him to choose between love and family, Damien Dracon fled to Europe and left Alicia Stevens behind. Now he’s back to witness the pain he caused for the first time. Will Alicia take him back?
We begin Shattered Magic inside Damien’s head, which will spend the entire novella wedged up Damien’s backside. He returns to Devon Falls determined to show Alicia “the sweetness of love,” as if he is the only man who can do that, a belief to which the women of the world should flip both birds.
Damien doesn’t understand why his abrupt departure years earlier might have hurt Alicia (or elsewhere in the story, his family). He is surprised to realize that Alicia might hate him for dumping her and ghosting. He seems to relish the idea of “a chase worthy of being a dragon’s mate,” as if he is a gift Alicia will be lucky to receive. In an all-too-brief moment of clarity, Damien wonders if he is an ass: “Am I being an utter ass, thinking she’ll welcome me with open arms?”
YES, Damien. A thousand times yes. He ogles Alicia through the window of her business like a sexual predator. He gets a massive erection every time he sees her. He whistles happily at the thought of confronting her, confident that all the situation needs is tears and a pretty speech. He has the nerve to say to Alicia that it pains him to see her hold onto the hurt he caused her as a shield against him. It pains him. It pains HIM. Damien is self-absorbed, gross, and not too bright.
I’m not sure anybody in Damien’s family is a terribly deep thinker. The reason for Damien’s departure, his family’s obsession with protecting their secret (they are shapeshifters), raises some fairly basic questions. Has no member of the Dracon family dated since 1784? What was it about this one relationship, alone among all the relationships of his children and grandchildren (and father and grandfather), that made it seem dangerous to Grandpa Dracon?
Did the old man think Rodrick’s trawling the bars for women to ogle was preferable to Damien’s intimacy with Alicia? And if the shapeshifting nature of the Dracons is such a big secret, why is their family business called the “Dragon Inn”?
Poor Alicia is not up for the challenge of Damien, something Rodrick implies several times by encouraging Damien to approach her before she has time to “get her defences up.” I worry about Alicia’s obsession with Damien’s departure. I worry about the way she has poked at this injury for years so that it never healed, and I worry about the fact that she is still in love with this loser. Alicia needs to work her way through the unhealthy patterns in her life. She does not need flowers and a picnic.
Damien is the antagonist in Shattered Magic. He is everyone’s problem: his mother, his brother, Alicia, himself. It’s symmetrical, certainly, but it isn’t promising for the Happily Ever After. Alicia deserves a life of self-respect, dignity, and the love of a good man. The only thing Shattered Magic has to offer her is Damien.
This guest review was contributed by Fiorella Mauro. Fiorella is a writer, editor, and sassy auntie. She’s an official book reviewer at theromancereviews.com and blogs at MonsterOfArts.com.