Title: Dragon Streets
Author: Jeff Pearce
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Paranormal (M/M), interracial, fantasy
Length: Novel (201 PDF pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Summary Review: A wonderful and exciting paranormal adventure and love story that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Two protagonists from different cultures explode in passion and fight a battle against an enemy they have to use every weapon in their arsenal to beat so that they can be together.
After Dale Burnett’s abusive common-law wife and innocent son are killed in a car accident, he finds the courage at last to express his bisexuality. And London is a city of hope and potential for a young American. But when a blind date goes horribly wrong, Dale is rescued by Phirun, a British Cambodian who has the astonishing ability to manipulate water. Dragons walk the streets, and they’ve taken human form to live in the world of Man. As two kinds of dragon wage a secret and vicious war, Phirun needs Dale’s help for his side to win, and the stakes include the very survival of the human race.
But one dragon crime boss won’t stop until he gets his hands on the American, who has a mysterious yet vital role to play. As Dale investigates, he grows closer to Phirun, but also to a compassionate female detective of the London police. If the battle is won, Dale must choose between a beautiful female cop who offers stability, affection, and a chance at a new family, or a gorgeous, unpredictable being who is more than man, who has given him ecstasy he has never known before.
I have to state my bias upfront. I love fantasy, and dragon shifters are my favourite paranormals therefore I read every book I can find about them. Some are great, some are OK and others are “also rans”. Because I love this paranormal species, at times I read M/M dragon shifter books that contain minimal M/F sex and decide afterwards whether to review the book. Dragon Streets was such an exceptional book with incredible world building and wonderful fantasy elements, as well as three dimensional protagonists, that I decided to review it.
Dragon Streets starts with a prologue that’s somewhat confusing because it’s obviously in the middle of the story, which then goes back to the present time, but once I started reading I understood why the prologue fits because it sets the context for certain events and gives the reader an understanding of Dale and his emotional and sexual journey.
When the story begins, the author, through a couple of flashbacks, shows how Dale had been bullied and battered by his female common-law wife for years and only stayed with her because they had a child together. The usual stereotype of a man bashing his partner is reversed here with a 5 ft. 3 in. woman emotionally abusing a 6 ft. man, and of course no one, including the Police, believe his story even though he’s the one who is out on the street with no home. When he couldn’t take the abuse any longer he left and shortly after, his former partner and son were killed in an automobile accident. It took Dale several months grieving for his son to begin to recover and also admit he was bisexual. An opportunity arose for him to fully explore his bisexuality after he met a man through an online dating service who seemed a likely prospect. When Dale showed up at the agreed-to location to meet his blind date he found that instead of wanting sex, his date, George Aragon, was a dragon who had lured him to the club to drug or kill him, because he had reliable information that Dale was a threat to his plan for world domination. The explosive firefight that ensued in the club left Dale badly burned and hallucinating and he was rescued in the nick of time by Phirun, another dragon. Turns out that Phirun was the leader of the water dragons and George was the head of the fire dragons and these two species, one from Western Europe and the other from Asia, had been at war for decades, one side wanting world domination and the other determined to prevent that at all costs.
When Dale became conscious of his surroundings a few days had passed and he was with Phirun who had kept him at a safe house so that he could heal. He was confused and couldn’t distinguish between fact and fiction – were dragons real or was he still hallucinating? To compound his confusion, he realized that he was becoming attracted to Phirun, a Brit of Cambodian ancestry, but he continued to disbelieve what he saw at the club, that Phirun and his team of dragons had saved him by almost drowning their enemies. Since he felt well enough to go home he left the safe house, but found out that the police were investigating the fire and they were suspicious of his role and connections with their known suspects.
Enter Detective Inspector Vivian Prentice. She was attracted to Dale who was still trying to figure out his sexuality and during the investigation Dale is forced to work closely with Vivian, and he’s torn between the feelings that are growing between him and Phirun and his need to remain within mainstream society and continue to live as a straight man. Eventually he and Vivian have sex, but it’s during a dream sequence where he changes her body to that of a man who is built like Phirun before he could have sex with her, so I guess subconsciously he does know what he wants despite his confusion.
Dragon Streets was a breathtaking fantasy which had the advantage of the world building being somewhat contemporary, ( if you consider early 1900’s construction contemporary), in abandoned stations of the London underground that were brought back to life in an eerie sort of parallel world. Jeff Pearce showed a wonderful vision in coming up with Dale’s role and it was something I would never have guessed. All I can say without giving away spoilers is that Dale was key in helping Phirun and the water dragons during the final battle. Pearce’s solution was even more incredible than Aragon’s dream of world domination, and I love it when a writer amazes me by throwing a curve ball that I never saw coming. Some of the battle scenes were horrific as befitting the kind of war that was being fought and the weapons at the disposal of both sides, and at times I wondered whether it was a winnable war for the good guys.
In case you think there is no romance in this book you couldn’t be more wrong. There were many tender scenes between Phirun and Dale, and Phirun’s actions made it clear that he loved Dale even though he knew that he was still conflicted about his sexuality. This is more than a fantasy adventure, it’s a complex story about a man who had to come to grips with who he is and his loss of self esteem during the years he was a victim of abuse, a role most men can’t accept. This book is also about his journey from uncertainty to acceptance. The main characters in the book were all fully three dimensional – Dale, Phirun, Emma (another water dragon who saved Dale’s life on more than one occasion) as well as Vivian who played a key role in the investigation. There were too many other characters to mention individually but George Aragon was definitely a megalomaniac.
If you’re looking for a fantastic paranormal adventure with a love story that’s given equal importance, then Dragon Streets should be on your “to buy” list. Highly recommended.