Title: Dragon Lover
Series: Dragon Kings #5
Published by: Evil Eye Publishing
Release Date: January 10, 2023
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant returns with the next exciting story in the Dragon Kings series.
Can she learn to love the man—as well as the dragon within?
Sensual. Clever. Daring. There’s only one thing Kendrick yearns for—peace that has eluded the Dragon Kings. Zora may have been made in the image of Earth, but it’s a far cry from home. For too long the Kings have been on the defensive, betrayed time and again. When Kendrick has an opportunity to stop a foe, he takes it. Except he isn’t the only one tracking it. Soon, he finds himself face-to-face with an exquisite swordswoman who holds him enthralled...and sparks passion within his cold heart.
As an Asavori Ranger, Esha has dedicated her life to protecting her people. She trains relentlessly to become one of their best warriors, forsaking everything else. When a treacherous new enemy invades their lands, she vows to destroy it. Esha’s rash decision has her crossing paths with that of a mysterious, handsome outsider. He’s trouble the Rangers don’t need, but she can’t walk away. He awakens desires long buried and dreams neglected. The temptation of their forbidden union is more than she can resist. She’s soon walking a treacherous path—one that could be the downfall for them both.
5 Stars! "Great story with lots of plot twists." - Goodreads reviewer
5 Stars! "An elf and dragon, who would have thought. But anything and everything happens in Donna Grants world." - Goodreads reviewer
5 Stars! "Just when you thought it can’t get any better, we meet Esha and a whole bunch of new characters that will hopefully bring more books about them, because I really can’t wait to find out what happens." - Goodreads reviewer
5 Stars! "This was a refreshing read I look forward to going deeper into the world as the DK discover a new future." - Goodreads reviewer
5 Stars! "Another action-packed expansion of Donna Grant's complex Dark World series, full of romance, unpredictable twists and wonderful characters with a hearty HEA." - Goodreads reviewer
"The type of read that just keeps readers coming back for more!" - Fresh Fiction
Also in this series:
On top of a small outcropping of flat rocks high atop a mountain, Kendrick sat with his legs dangling over the side, awed by the sunrise. Beautiful. The thought went through his mind every time he saw the sun break over the mountains. He leaned back on his hands and smiled.
“It really is stunning. Whether I’m on Zora or Earth, it’s a sight to behold. They’re nearly identical, though you’ll have to take my word for it.” He paused and looked over his shoulder into the small cave behind him.
A loud sigh came from within.
Kendrick’s enhanced vision cut through the shadows to the small dragon inside. He’d been surprised and thrilled to discover that a Pink had a home in the region he’d been assigned to patrol. Dragons tended to stay away from the borders of their considerable-sized domain simply because they didn’t want to encounter humans of any kind.
Despite Kendrick’s weeks on Zora, the Pink had yet to speak to him. Kendrick wasn’t giving up, though. He, like the other Dragon Kings, had long feared that the Pinks had been wiped out during the war on Earth with the mortals. Once the Kings came to Zora, they saw the dragons they hadn’t seen in eons flourishing—and with them, the Pinks.
The tiniest of dragon species were known to be aloof, but this one in particular took it to a whole new level. Not that Kendrick could blame her. It wasn’t just this dragon, either. None of the dragons on Zora were thrilled to see the Kings.
Kendrick frowned as the past barreled through the carefully constructed walls within his mind. He sighed and looked back at the sun. “It’s easy to look at someone’s mistakes and criticize things. It wasna so black and white. Things were…difficult back then.”
Difficult. Ha. That was an understatement. Things on Earth had been hell. It didn’t seem to matter what the Kings did, the humans were never happy. With every new truce, there was retaliation—from both sides.
No one knew who started it. The blame couldn’t be placed at the feet of the dragons or the mortals. The Kings had done what they thought was right.
And it had led to them losing everything.
Kendrick squeezed his eyes shut as the bleak, treacherous emotions he kept locked away broke loose. He hated delving into the past. There was nothing there but rage, resentment, and despair. He ran his hands down his face in a bid to lock the past away, but he didn’t quite manage it. He opened his eyes and scanned the horizon. His area to patrol was breathtaking. A magnificent mountain range with stunning vistas, valleys filled with a lush forest, and a wide lake. Across the invisible border was a vast grassland. And beyond that, a plateau.
On his many flights, Kendrick had seen the enormous size of the plateau and the mountains that rose behind it. He’d be lying if he said that he wasn’t interested in exploring the land across the border. But the Kings had already run into trouble by doing just that.
The situation with the mortals on the west side of dragon land in the city of Stonemore had taken a drastic turn with the disappearance of one of theirs—Merrill. It likely meant that war was on the horizon. The Kings were used to being the biggest, most dangerous entities on Earth, but they had recently learned that something on Zora could take down even a King. The new foe was why the other Kings were on the realm and actively guarding the borders.
Kendrick wanted to find the new adversary. He wasn’t worried about encountering it, regardless of how easily the enemy had taken down other Kings. It would be caught—and killed. It was only a matter of time. What weighed so heavily on Kendrick’s mind was Merrill. He knew his friend. Merrill was astute and cunning.
If someone had taken Merrill as they had with Varek, the Kings would find them. And dole out their brand of justice. Some thought Merrill had left on his own, much as Brandr had, but Kendrick didn’t buy that. Neither did Varek, Merrill’s best friend. That left only one other possibility. And Kendrick refused to consider that his friend’s life had been taken.
Movement to his left drew Kendrick’s attention. He watched as the Pink emerged from her cave. She shook and stretched gracefully, unfurling one wing and then the other before tucking them against her sleek body. The Pinks had rounded scales that gave them a harder shell than any other dragon. Small fan-like growths ran down their spines. And a Pink’s tail was particularly dangerous, ending in a flat, fan-like tip that held sharp barbs as hard as a dragon’s talons.
“Why are you out here on your own?” Kendrick had asked her the same question every day since being assigned to the territory. He had yet to get an answer. “I know you can understand me. Whether I speak like this”—he paused and opened the mental link to talk telepathically as all dragons did—“or like this.”
The Pink turned and looked at him for a moment, her emerald eyes flashing. Instead of flying off, she simply sat and gazed at the scenery. After a stretch of silence, Kendrick did the same.
“We failed you on Earth. You have a second chance here, and we’re going to make sure we doona repeat the mistakes of the past.” Kendrick thought of Shaw and Cullen and their run-in with humans who now knew dragons had crossed onto their land. They seemed to be on the precipice of the war the twins, Brandr and Eurwen, had spent thousands of years ensuring never happened.
Could they keep such a promise and keep it at bay? Brandr and Eurwen had gone to great lengths to ensure the mortals stayed away from the dragons and vice versa. The twins hadn’t wanted any of the Kings on Zora initially—mostly because they had issues with their father, Constantine, King of Dragon Kings.
In the end, Eurwen had granted Con and the twins’ mother, Rhi, access to Zora. Kendrick wondered if Con and Rhi would have been allowed to come had Varek not been kidnapped and brought to the realm. In the end, their new adversary’s attack propelled the twins to agree to let some of the Kings help contain the situation.
It should’ve been easy. They should’ve caught the enemy quickly. But that didn’t happen. Mainly because the foe managed to make itself invisible. It was difficult to locate and defeat if no one could see it.
Kendrick hadn’t given up looking, though, and the twins had finally issued an open invitation to the realm. Which was a good thing since a few of his brethren had found their mates on this new world. Not to mention, Eurwen and Brandr would need help if the war did happen. Cullen and Shaw had done what they could to keep things from escalating, but those who ruled Stonemore were killing anyone with magic—especially children. Someone had to put a halt to it, and that’s what the Kings had done. Unfortunately, it hadn’t occurred covertly.
Kendrick grinned as his thoughts turned to happier subjects. Namely Varek and his warrior mate, Jeyra. “You should’ve seen the mating ceremony,” he told the Pink. “Or maybe you did. It was a spectacular event. If you missed it, you’ll have a chance to see others, I’m sure. Cullen and Tamlyn will eventually have their ceremony. My bet is that they’re next to make things official. Tamlyn is a Banshee. Did I tell you that already?”
The Pink rolled her eyes.
Kendrick held back his grin. “Ah. So I did. What about Shaw and Nia? She was held as a slave in Stonemore, a city built into the side of the mountain. I hear it’s quite a sight.” His smile vanished, thinking of the city that held so much blood and death. “That’s the last place Merrill was seen. He and Shaw went there to stop the humans from killing children with magic.”
There should’ve been more than two Kings at Stonemore. If there had been, someone would have been watching the other two’s backs in case something happened—which it had.
Kendrick opened his mental link again. “Merrill? Just let me know you’re all right, brother. Please.”
But like every day since Merrill had disappeared, there was no reply.
Kendrick glanced at the Pink to find her studying him. Just as he opened his mouth to talk, the Pink jerked her gaze away. Her entire body grew rigid as her look intensified. She slowly stood, a low growl emanating from her. Kendrick followed her line of sight. He saw nothing, no matter how hard he tried.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw what looked like a ripple.
It was just how Shaw, Brandr, and Eurwen had described the new enemy before it struck. Kendrick immediately got to his feet. It was here. His heart rate increased as anticipation rushed through him.
“I’ve got the bastard,” he murmured.
The Pink made a sound. Kendrick ignored her and shifted into his true form. He dove from the rock and spread his wings to soar toward the location. The Pink darted in front of him, her tiny wings flapping rapidly to keep up. When he didn’t heed her, she began bumping into him.
“I must,” he told her.
When she didn’t relent, he flew faster, leaving her behind. This adversary had caused enough harm. Someone needed to stop it. He was the closest. It would be foolish to wait for others and risk losing this enemy again.
Kendrick angled himself to see out of the corner of his eye. He flew back and forth over the area without seeing anything. Frustration churned in his stomach. Just as he was about to fly away, he saw the ripple again. This time, he wouldn’t let the entity get away.
Despite believing he had locked on to the adversary, Kendrick lost it a second time. He didn’t hesitate to act when he spotted it the third time. He dove to tackle it. He didn’t slow, even as he passed through the barrier of dragon land and moved into the human side of the territory. He would catch his opponent.
With his wings tucked against his body and the wind whipping past him in a rush, Kendrick released a breath of fire. It scorched the earth where he was sure the enemy had been. He was just circling back for a second attack when something slammed into him. The next thing he knew, he crashed into the ground in human form. Bones snapped at the force of the impact.
Kendrick hadn’t shifted, he was certain of that. He pushed up onto one elbow as the world spun and his bones knitted back together. His body…fuck. It hurt in ways he’d never experienced. The pain was so debilitating that he nearly passed out. He shook from the agony and the magic that had struck him. His stomach heaved, but he fought for control.
He shook his head to clear it, but that only made things worse. His enhanced hearing caught a whisper of a sound. Was it his enemy? Or a new one? It didn’t matter. He had to get up and face it. He got to his feet on unsteady limbs and called clothes to his nakedness. He staggered, doing everything he could to stay upright—which shouldn’t be so difficult.
Kendrick knew he wasn’t alone. His senses warned him that something was closing in, and fast. He kept his gaze on the horizon to combat the dizziness. That allowed him to concentrate on his peripheral vision to catch a glimpse of the enemy again.
This time, just as he braced for an attack from the side, the magic hit him square in the chest. The agony that radiated through Kendrick snatched his breath. He landed hard, something dark and cloying engulfing him before he knew what had happened. It felt as if something were invading his skin and trying to rip his muscles apart and shatter his bones systematically. With gritted teeth, he fought against the rising tide of pain.
Kendrick tried to shift again, but he couldn’t. The sheer terror that assaulted him made him panic for an instant. He then resorted to magic, fighting any way he could. Each time he started to heal, whatever had a hold of him struck again. Worse was the residual magic that lingered. He even thought he heard a laugh near his ear.
The enemy was on him, around him, and still, Kendrick couldn’t see what it was. He bellowed and released more magic. It was enough to get away from the entity. Kendrick knew it would return, but he would be upright when it did. It was getting harder and harder to stay on his feet, but he refused to fall.
He tried again to shift now that he was free of the foe’s energy. When he couldn’t, panic stole over him. Cullen had warned him about this. So had Brandr and Eurwen, but he hadn’t listened. He’d believed things would be different for him, and look where that had gotten him. He’d been too intent on taking down their adversary, and now, he would pay the price.
He felt a slight shift in the air. Kendrick looked out of the corner of his eye and saw the ripple once more. He dove to the side and then rolled to his feet. A grin split his face when he realized he’d dodged the assault. He turned to use his peripheral vision for the next attack. It came from above this time, pounding into him so hard that his legs buckled.
“Not as powerful as you thought, are you?”
The disembodied voice filled the area around him. Kendrick lifted his head as his body swiftly mended. The entity was toying with him. Fury burned within him. If that was how this thing wanted to play, then he was game. Kendrick climbed to his feet and attempted once more to shift. It took everything he had to hold back the panic that lodged itself in his chest when he couldn’t.
He was a Dragon King. He had fought many wars, gone up against some of the most powerful beings, and had come out on top. He wasn’t afraid of death. The magic of Earth had chosen him to lead his clan, and nothing on this realm or any other would make him stop fighting.
Kendrick took a deep breath and released it. He then smiled. “I wouldna worry about me.”
He saw a ripple out of the corner of his eye. Kendrick spun away, but he was too slow. The magic enveloped him. It stuck to his skin, seeped into every pore as if it were suffocating him. This wasn’t the end. Was it? A King could only be killed by another King. Unless this was a Dragon King, and they didn’t know it.
That thought was a sobering one. Kendrick should’ve told Con and the others what he was doing. He should’ve waited for them. Whatever he fought believed it was stronger. It thought it could take him down. And while it had an advantage, everything had a weakness. Kendrick just needed to find what that was.
He called to his magic, but it was slow to respond. That’s when Kendrick realized the entity was causing this. He stopped fighting what held him and concentrated on his magic instead. It moved slowly, but it did answer him this time. He gathered it and let it build until he finally released it.
In an instant, he was free. His limbs froze as he dropped to his knees. Kendrick gathered more magic, ready to fight off the next attack, when he heard a war cry. The entity might have released him, but the residual magic was unrelenting. He heard footsteps and looked up to find warriors gathered around something to his left. His gaze landed on a female who moved with such speed and grace that he stared in wonder for a moment. She swung her sword effortlessly.
He willed the lingering effects of the attack to dissipate as he got to his feet. And with a smile, he called his sword and joined her and the others.