Night of the Highland Dragon (Highland Dragon #3) by Isabel Cooper (audiobook) – Narrated by Derek Perkins

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

In the Scottish Highlands, legend is as powerful as the sword-and nowhere is that more true than in the remote village of Loch Aranoch. Its mysterious ruler, Judith MacAlasdair, is fiercely protective of her land-and her secrets. If anyone were to find out what she really was, she and her entire clan would be hunted down as monsters.

William Arundell is on the trail of a killer. Special agent for an arcane branch of the English government, his latest assignment has led him to a remote Highland castle and the undeniably magnetic lady who rules there. Yet as lies begin to unravel and a dark threat gathers, William finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Highlands . . . and the woman he can neither trust nor deny. He prays she isn’t the murderer; he never dreamed she’d be a dragon.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – C

Even though I was very disappointed in the previous book in this series of historical paranormals (The Highland Dragon’s Lady), I remembered reading the print version of Night of the Highland Dragon a couple of years back, and thought I’d give it another go-round in audio. The final member of the MacAlasdair family of shape-shifters is Lady Judith, who resides at the castle of Loch Arach and takes good care of all those who depend on her and the castle for their livelihoods. Into this Highland idyll comes William Arundell, an investigator for a secret branch of the government who starts asking uncomfortable questions about Judith and her family in the course of his investigations into a gruesome murder. The two are suspicious but drawn to each other, although sadly, the romance is fairly lacklustre and the story as a whole is somewhat dull and lacking in direction. There’s also a severe lack of background information about William’s work and of scene-setting in general. The story is set in a late Victorian era in which magic and witchcraft exist, and listeners are just asked to accept that without any further explanation of how, why, where and who – which this listener found somewhat frustrating.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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The Highland Dragon’s Lady (Highland Dragons #2) by Isabel Cooper (audiobook) – Narrated by Derek Perkins

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Regina Talbot-Jones has always known her rambling family home was haunted. She also knows her brother has invited one of his friends to attend an ill-conceived séance. She didn’t count on that friend being so handsome… and she certainly didn’t expect him to be a dragon.

Scottish Highlander Colin MacAlasdair has hidden his true nature for his entire life, but the moment he sets eyes on Regina, he knows he has to have her. In his hundreds of years, he’s never met a woman who could understand him so thoroughly… or touch him so deeply. Bound by their mutual loneliness, drawn by the fire awakening inside of them, Colin and Regina must work together to defeat a vengeful spirit – and discover whether their growing love is powerful enough to defy convention.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content: C-

I’m not a great fan of paranormal romances in the main (although I adored Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London books), but I read one of the other titles in Isabel Cooper’s Highland Dragon series a while back and enjoyed it enough to be interested in reading or listening to another one. Until recently, only the first book, Legend of the Highland Dragon has been available in audio format, but Tantor Audio has now issued books two and three, The Highland Dragon’s Lady and Night of the Highland Dragon (which is the one I’ve read). With Derek Perkins once again lending his considerable narrating skills to the project, I settled in for what I hoped would be an exciting story filled with magic and mysterious goings on.

Two out of three isn’t bad, I suppose. Because while there’s certainly magic and mysterious goings on, the story isn’t very exciting. In fact, it was so dull in places that even Mr. Perkins couldn’t save it or stop my mind wandering, and I found myself backtracking several times throughout the listen.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper

night of the highland dragon

William Arundell is a detective working for a secret branch of the English government. When a young man is found dead, William’s investigation leads him to a remote Highland village and the intoxicatingly beautiful lady who rules MacAlasdair Castle.

The charismatic Judith MacAlasdair is not what William expected. The only daughter in a long line of shape-changing dragons, Judith is wary of William and his unrelenting questions. However, when William’s investigation takes an interesting turn, they must put aside years of bad blood and a mutual distrust of outsiders to band together to save the British Islands from its deadliest foe…

Rating: C+

A shape-shifting dragon-lady in late Victorian Scotland is not my normal cup of tea (well, the late Victorian part is, but not the dragon-lady part!) but I do occasionally like to pick up something a bit different, and this seemed like a good prospect. Night of the Highland Dragon is the third book in a series featuring the MacAlasdair siblings, who are all descended from an ancient line of shape-shifters, and this book features the single female member of the family, Lady Judith.

With her two brothers now happily married and settled elsewhere, Judith is responsible for looking after the family’s extensive estate, for the welfare of everyone in the local village of Loch Arach, and it’s a responsibility she takes very seriously. Strangers in the neighbourhood are rarely seen, so the arrival of a handsome, but gently inquisitive gentleman from London is something she views with suspicion.

William Arundell is an agent for a secret government department whose job is to protect the populace from the various paranormal and supernatural elements that threaten them, whether it be things-that-go-“bump”-in-the-night, satanic cults, or, as William himself puts it, “basic strangeness” . His most recent assignment has involved the thwarting of a dangerous cult known as the Consuasori, and now, he has been sent to the Scottish Highlands to investigate what appears to be the ritual killing of a local boy. In the course of his investigations he hears rumours about the lady of the castle which pique his interest – but nothing prepares him for the reality of Lady Judith MacAlasdair, beautiful, independent and extremely capable; and quite possibly his number one suspect.

William and Judith tread warily around each other, even as they recognise the frisson of attraction between them. She doesn’t want anyone from the outside poking his nose into her business – but when it becomes clear that there is more at work than simple bad luck she and William decide to join forces to defeat whatever evil forces are threatening the village and the country at large.

I enjoyed the book overall, although to be honest, it wasn’t as “different” as I’d expected, as Judith spends probably 90% of the time in her human form – which I didn’t mind – and the rest of the story is an undemanding but entertaining mystery with a few supernatural elements thrown in which only come into really sharp focus towards the end. The problem with the book as a whole is that it’s a paranormal-mystery-romance in which none of those three elements is fully exploited. If I had to choose the part of it that works the best, I’d have to say it’s the mystery – which is intriguing, even though the identity of the villain is fairly obvious. The paranormal elements work well enough, but there is so much that seems to just come out of the blue with no explanation that I was left with more questions than answers. I wondered if perhaps that is because I haven’t read the previous books in the series, although from reading the synopses, I suspect I’d be saying the same even if I had read them. For example, there are quite a few references made to William’s investigation into the Consuasori but it’s little more than name-dropping and a way of setting up the dénouement. He uses a form of magic in his investigations, yet we’re never told how it is he is able to do this.

William himself is an attractive character, clearly intelligent, competent and methodical, and I liked that he is confident enough in himself and his own abilities not to feel threatened by Judith’s powers or strength. I found Judith harder to warm to, though, because she’s so determined to go it alone, she comes across as overly stern and cold as a result. I liked that she was the sort of woman who saw what she wanted – William – and felt comfortable making the first move on more than one occasion, but ultimately the romance is under-developed and there is a lack of chemistry between the leads. Their first kiss comes with practically no build-up, and their relationship seems to be based on lust rather than any deeper connection or understanding between them.

In spite of my reservations, I quite enjoyed Night of the Highland Dragon, although I would have liked a little more consistency of approach in terms of the key elements that made up the story. The book is well written and often wryly humorous, which I appreciated, and I would certainly not be averse to reading more by Ms Cooper, but I can’t give this one a wholehearted recommendation.