"Laugh-out-loud funnyI loved it!" New York Times bestselling author Thea Harrison
The trouble with humans is that they're far too sensitive. Forget you put a woman in the local jail for a few monthsand she takes it so personally! And yet she is the one trying to assassinate the queen. And now I'm trapped with Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight. . .gods! That endless name!
But what am I to do? I am Celyn the Charming with direct orders from my queen to protect this unforgiving female.
Even more shocking, this unforgiving female is completely unimpressed by me. How is that even possible? But I know what I want and, for the moment, I want her. And I'm sure that she, like all females, will learn to adore me. How could she not when I am just so damn charming?
Praise for The Dragon Who Loved Me
"A chest thumping, mead-hall rocking, enemy slaying brawl of a good book." All Things Urban Fantasy
"Aiken aces another one." RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
About the Author
G.A. Aiken is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Dragon Kin Series and the Scarred Earth Saga. When she’s not writing about sexy dragons and feminist blacksmiths, she’s writing about hot wolf, lion, tiger, and other fang-filled predators as Shelly Laurenston, the acclaimed and bestselling author of the Pride series, the Call of Crows, and the Honey Badger Chronicles. Originally from Long Island, she now lives on the West Coast and spends most of her time writing and making sure her rescued Pitbull doesn’t love everyone into a coma. Please visit her online at www.GAAiken.com.
Read an Excerpt
Light My Fire
By G.A. AIKEN
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 G.A. Aiken
All rights reserved.
Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains—or just Elina for those who are lazy—carefully made her way up the mountain toward her destiny.
It was, of course, not a destiny she wanted for herself. This had not been her plan for her life. But she didn't have a choice, did she? The leader of her tribe, Glebovicha, had ordered her to take on this task. Glebovicha had said it was to help Elina get a reputation she could be proud of among their tribe. Even, perhaps, all the Tribes of the Steppes that were under the rule of the Anne Atli herself. But Elina had no delusions about any of this.
Her life was over no matter which choice she made, so she might as well string this pathetic existence out as long as she could manage. And who knew? Perhaps the end would be quicker and much less painful than if she'd told Glebovicha to go to hell with her ridiculous task.
So Elina continued to climb that mountain. Devenallt Mountain, it was called. Deep in the heart of Southland territory. Said to be the mountain home of the Southland dragons' feared queen.
It was a big, imposing place, but Elina had been taught to climb bigger mountains from the time she could stand. Her people, the Daughters of the Steppes, or as others called them, Terrors of the Outerplains, were a war-loving people. At one time, the Steppes had been broken into random territories of always-fighting marauders. It had been a nasty way to live, and the females of those tribes had ended up on the worst end of it all, often ripped from one tribe to another, forced to leave their children and families behind so they could be the concubines of some male they didn't know.
Then, four, maybe five, thousand years ago, a female warrior named Anne Atli had been born. The first Captain of the Riders, she'd had a way with horses, and she'd possessed skills with weaponry that put her above all others. She eventually took all the power, destroying any who challenged her. And she did it again and again until finally, she united the tribes under her banner and turned the attention of the warriors from each other, to those who attacked the Steppes to raid and plunder.
Since then, the Daughters of the Steppes had ruled the land and the Anne Atli, Mother of the Steppes Riders, ruled them all. It was a title and name that was not given to the next in line by birth, but to the one willing to take it for her own and keep it while still honoring the woman who had begun it all.
Of course, Elina was not willing to take anything. She'd never be willing. She had no interest in ruling the Steppes. She had no interest in being a warrior. But each of the tribes under Anne Atli's banner still cared about its individual reputation, and "having you around, doing nothing," Glebovicha had told Elina, made the rest of their tribe look weak. Something Elina doubted considering Glebovicha's personal reputation. She was a feared tribal leader, and Elina was one of many in the tribe. But Glebovicha hated her. Violently, it seemed. So she'd sent Elina off to challenge and kill the one they called the White Dragon Queen.
So here Elina was now ... climbing a mountain very like the big ones that surrounded the Steppes. Those, it was said, had dragons in them, too, but Elina had never met one. In truth, she'd be happy never to meet a dragon. She could have gone her entire life having never met a dragon and been quite happy about it.
That was no longer an option, though. So she climbed. And she kept climbing. For days. Even setting up a tent against the mountainside at night so she could sleep. Thankfully, she did not turn in her sleep. That would have been ... unfortunate.
On the fifth day, Elina finally reached the top of Devenallt Mountain. She pulled herself up over the final rock face and stayed on her knees, taking in deep breaths as she thanked whatever horse god might be listening.
It was bright out. Midday. So that big, dark shadow that slowly covered her was a bit ... off-putting. She hoped it was a cloud. A big, nightmarish cloud that foretold a horrible storm. But she knew ... she knew it was no cloud that covered her.
Shoulders sagging, she looked behind her.
It was big. So very big. And black like the diamonds from the Steppes dwarf mines. All of it black. Its scales. Its talons. Its eyes. Its long mane. All except its fangs. They were quite white ... brilliantly so.
They stared at each other for what felt like forever. Then, it finally spoke. Spoke like a man.
"What are you doing here?" it asked.
Elina tried not to show her surprise. She'd been raised to believe that all dragons were nothing better than animals. Like a jungle cat or a bear. Just bigger and able to breathe fire—so definitely to be avoided. But this one wasn't some mindless animal. He spoke the common language with a Southland lilt. She'd met quite a few Southlanders as she'd traveled through the territories of these decadent and lazy people. Yes, he spoke just like the human male Southlanders.
Elina slowly got to her feet and faced the dragon.
"I've come to kill the White Dragon Queen," Elina announced, struggling to speak in a language that was not her own.
The dragon blinked, a few times. "Really?" he finally asked.
"Huh," he said after a few seconds, then slowly turned and began to walk away as silently as he'd come. Elina was surprised. Perhaps the Dragon Queen's subjects weren't as loyal as her people thought. Perhaps they wanted this queen dead. Well, it didn't really matter to Elina. She had a task to die trying to do. Not a positive thought but, sadly, an accurate one.
So Elina secured her traveling pack on her shoulders and picked up her spear. And that was when the dragon's long black tail suddenly whipped out and wrapped itself around her waist, pinning her arms to her body.
Shocked, Elina didn't even yell, didn't fight, though the spear was still clutched in her hand. And the dragon walked on with Elina securely tucked into his tail ... and he was humming.
She had to admit, she found the humming annoying.
Celyn the Charming of the Cadwaladr Clan loved his job! As far as he was concerned, he had the best job in the queendom.
Though he'd admit, his siblings mocked him. While they went off to battle, spending months in muck and killing every bloody thing, every bloody day, Celyn was one of Her Majesty's Personal Guards. He trained every day just like his siblings. Lived the life of a military dragon just like his siblings. And he killed when necessary—unlike his siblings, who killed whenever they felt like it.
And yet few of them took Celyn seriously because he wasn't face-first in the blood and brains of a battle. But he didn't need to be. Because he had the best job ever!
He glanced back at the human female he had trapped with his tail. He hadn't seen a human who looked like her before. Such interesting features. Long, white-blond hair that reached down her back and framed an oval face. Pale skin covered razor-sharp cheekbones beneath bright, bright blue eyes that were narrow like a house cat's. Full pink lips and a cleft chin rounded out that face. She was definitely someone Celyn would take the time to chat up if he'd met her at the local pub. But he hadn't. Instead, she'd been at the top of Devenallt Mountain. The queen's mountain.
Devenallt Mountain was the seat of power of the Southland Dragon Queen, Rhiannon the White, and the only humans who came here were ones who were invited by Her Majesty or were brought here to be eaten. A practice they'd stopped when the queen's offspring—and Celyn's royal cousins—began mating with humans. To the queen, it seemed tacky to eat the brethren of those her children loved. Celyn, however, didn't have a preference. He was just as happy with a good cow, and there was always more meat on those bones anyway.
Still, having a human show up and openly admit she was there to kill the queen ... that was unusual. But Celyn liked unusual.
Celyn had known the woman was climbing the mountains for days. All the guards had. It was their job to protect the queen, and that meant knowing who was in the queen's territory at all times. Yet after she hadn't fallen to her death the first day, all the guards had wanted to see how far the human would get. They had bets going. Celyn had been certain, though, that she'd make it as soon as he'd watched her set up that tent against the mountainside and spend her first night there—so they'd left her alone ... and waited. He had been on duty when she'd reached the top, so he'd confronted her first. Softly. No need to blast her with flames or unleash a roar of rage to make her piss herself. He left that sort of thing to his siblings. Celyn preferred a gentler approach.
Yet he'd never expected her to admit that she was here to kill his queen. Again, his siblings would have killed her right then. But Celyn knew his queen. She was his aunt-by-mating and they amused each other. She loved to be entertained.
And he was very certain this woman was going to be the best entertainment his queen got today.
The White Dragon Queen sat on her stone throne, her massive head resting on the talons of her left claw, the elbow of her forearm resting against the arm of the stone throne she sat upon. One talon on her right claw tapped against the other arm of the throne. Her excessively long tail snaked around the back of the throne to the front, where the tip tapped against the stone floor in time with the talon on her right claw.
Studying Elina, the queen finally asked, "Could you ... repeat that?"
Elina blew out a breath and gripped her spear a little tighter. The spear the black dragon had allowed her to keep. She'd thought he was being foolish until she'd seen the size of the Dragon Queen ... and all the other dragons standing around her court ... staring. Gods, Elina had never seen beings so big before—or known there were so many.
"I am here to ..." She cleared her throat. "... take your life, queen of the dragons, and bring your head back to my noble people."
The white dragoness nodded slowly. "Aye. That's what I thought you said."
A deadly silence followed, and Elina prepared herself to meet with her ancestors on the other side. But then one of the old dragons standing behind the queen suddenly snorted. And once he snorted, the rest of the dragons burst into hysterical laughter, while the Dragon Queen waved at the old dragon behind her.
"Elder Clesek!" she said around her incessant giggles.
"I'm sorry, my queen. I just ... I can't ..." He burst into further laughter and the rest of the Queen's Court laughed with him.
Elina glanced behind her, but the black dragon who'd brought her in was gone. After a whispered conversation with the queen, he'd deserted Elina. Not that she blamed him. Perhaps he didn't want to view her messy death.
"My dearest girl," the queen said around the others' laughter, "who hates you so much that they'd send you here ... to face me?"
"It is a quest of honor."
"One you thought of yourself ?" she asked. And when Elina did not answer, the queen nodded. "If you'd thought of all this yourself, it would have been bloody stupid. But for someone to send you to me? It's just cruel. Someone clearly wants you dead."
Elina sighed. "This I know."
"Then why did you come here? Why did you not run? Start a new life somewhere else?"
"I am Daughter of Steppes," she replied, automatically knowing she wasn't getting the Southlander language quite right. They seemed to use too many words; it was hard to remember all that needed to be there.
"I do not run," Elina went on. "If I am to meet my death at your claw, then I will meet my death."
"Daughter of the Steppes? You are from the Outerplains?"
"The Rider tribes that raid the valley territories of the Northlands, Quintilian Provinces, and Annaig Valley. Your people are greatly feared. Tell me, little human, what is your name?"
"I am Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Tribe of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains."
The queen blinked several times before she asked, "That entire thing is your name?"
"It was one I was given at birth."
"Kind of cursed coming and going, weren't you, sweetness?"
The old dragon leaned forward and said, "My lady, perhaps we should end this quickly rather than drawing it out unnecessarily, now that we know the truth of her situation."
The queen looked at the dragon. "Whatever do you mean?"
"It seems cruel to toy with her."
The queen frowned, shocking Elina with her ability to show emotion despite all those scales. The queen looked over her court, her expression now confused. Finally, she exclaimed, "Wait ... do you all think I plan to eat her?"
The old dragon behind the queen gave the smallest of shrugs. "Don't you?"
"No! I don't do that anymore. It seems unacceptable ... with the grandchildren and all. Besides ... look at the poor thing." And they all did. The size of the dragons was harrowing enough, but really it was the expressions of pity that had Elina's stomach curdling in horror. It shouldn't, though. She often received that same expression from other tribe members.
"You poor, poor thing," the queen said again.
The black dragon who'd brought Elina here suddenly returned, barely glancing at her as he passed. It was the same way Elina glanced at a mouse that ran past her in the woods outside the tribes' territories.
"My queen," the black dragon began, his voice low, "you wanted me to let you know when Lord Bercelak was nearing the mountain."
"Yes, yes. We'll have to get her someplace safe."
The black dragon glanced again at Elina and back at the queen. "Someplace safe?"
"Aye. And we must keep this information away from Bercelak."
The black dragon shook his head. "No."
"I am your queen."
"Yes. But you adore me. Your Bercelak ... not so much. And he hits."
"Oh, honestly! Are you afraid of your own uncle?"
"Yes! I am. Hence the whining in my voice."
"Take her, Celyn. Someplace safe."
"Don't auntie me, Celyn the Charming! And how did you even get that name? You clearly don't deserve it!"
"You gave it to me."
"That was obviously a mistake on my part."
"You never make mistakes, my queen. You told me that yourself."
Slowly, the queen looked over at the black dragon and, in return, he slowly grinned, flashing a number of exceptionally large fangs. The largest fangs Elina had ever had the misfortune of seeing.
"Take her," the queen ordered, "someplace safe. And do it before I am forced to get my ass off this throne so that I can throttle you to death!"
The black dragon gave a small bow. "As you command, my queen."
"Oh, stop it, Celyn."
She heard the black dragon chuckle, his big body slowly turning. He studied Elina a moment, then walked off. After he passed, Elina looked down in time to see his tail circling her waist.
"Not—" was all she managed to get out before his tail lifted her up and carried her out of a side exit to the chamber. As they moved, Elina could hear the queen call out, "Bercelak, my love! I'm so glad you're home!"
"Why," another low voice demanded from the queen's throne room, "do you all look guilty? What are you hiding from me, Rhiannon?"
Celyn landed outside Garbhán Isle, the seat of power of the human Southland queen. He dropped the female he held in his tail and shifted to human. He glanced back at the woman and warned, "Don't try to run away."
"Run away?" she repeated in that thick Outerplains accent. "Run away to where, dragon? You cannot outrun failure. Disappointment. Misery. So why even try?"
Celyn, reaching for a set of clothes that was left outside the city for the many dragons coming and going, paused for a moment, again glancing back at the human female. "You're a fun, perky girl, aren't you?" he joked.
She shrugged. "I am known as annoyingly cheery among my tribe. A curse I cannot escape."
Unwilling to even think too much on that bit of information, Celyn quickly pulled on chain-mail leggings, a chainmail shirt, and leather boots. Once dressed, he took the spear from the woman's hand and tossed it on the pile of other weapons. Then he grabbed hold of the woman's arm and led her past the city gates. The guards nodded at him and he nodded back.
"So," she suddenly asked, "will my execution be long and painful or quick and brutal?"
Excerpted from Light My Fire by G.A. AIKEN. Copyright © 2014 G.A. Aiken. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Aiken’s brilliant and hysterical writing style shines through in Light My Fire. Celyn the Charming was given one simple task…watch over the human that tried to assassinate the queen of the dragons. Locking her away in a cell was not what they had in mind, but forgetting about her for months on end was definitely not in the plan. Luckily the reluctant assassin, Elina was very resourceful. When trouble comes from the south, the queen orders Celyn and Elina to work together to make an unlikely truce… Passion and dislike flows both ways between Celyn and Elina, creating quite an interesting make up. Will Celyn’s charm shine through or will Elina squash it before they discover what a formidable team they truly are? Aiken is known for her highly complex plots and outrageously funny histrionics…I think Light My Fire might just take the level up a few notches. And I LOVED IT! I found myself laughing out loud and cheering on both Elina and Celyn. The past character interaction was MARVELOUS! It brings the familiar back into this new storyline and kept me emotionally invested on every word. Yes, even though there is tons of funny, Aiken brilliantly sucks you into this magical world and makes you utterly invested in the plight of her characters. I flat out love this series and this author, whether she writes as G.A. Aiken or Shelly Laurenston, I find her work masterfully written; giving you the perfect balance of humor and drama with a heavy dose of steamin' hot romance and action on the side. I always have a serious book hang over when I finish one of Aiken's works...she leaves me wanting more every time.
Reviewed by Annie and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog Trust me when I saw that the wait is worth it. G.A. Aiken has penned a series that I’ve adored for a very long time. It’s one of those series that stands as one of my all-time top favorite Paranormal Romances series because of Aiken’s ability to infuse humor, politics, kickass heroines and proud dragons all into one. LIGHT MY FIRE is Celyn the Charming’s book. When an assassin tries to kill the queen, Celyn is tasked with watching over her. However, it doesn’t exactly take his responsibilities to heart and leaves her in prison. It’s only months later when Annwyl has use for her that he remembers about the human. utc-top-pickElina Shestakova must return home and negotiate with her to see Anne Atli. It’s a difficult thing to do, especially when he mother sees her first journey has a failure. What’s so great about this book is that Aiken makes tremendous strides in the overall plot arc of this series. So much happens which is why the book stands with a whopping presence on reader’s bookshelves. At nearly 500 pages, this book packs an immense punch that will no doubt leave readers feeling stunned, but begging for more. Best of all, right alongside the hilarious antics and the impressive plot, Aiken manages to keep the romance front and center of it all. Celyn and Elina are fabulous together, playing off each other’s strengths, but not opposed to making fun of their weaknesses either. There’s always something so charming about Aiken’s characters. They walk onto the page and everything comes the life. I dare you not to try and fall in love with them. LIGHT MY FIRE is easily the best in the series! Aiken stuns with her incredible worldbuilding as her characters are kicking ass all while having a good time. *ARC provided by publisher
I agree with Sargoon1! It was sooo long between books but I absolutely loved it! I think it was my favorite book to date. This is one of my favorite shifter series of all times. I cannot wait until the next one comes out!!!
It was worth the wait but please don't make us wait this long again. Truly loved getting back with characters I have loved from previous stories.Elina and her sister were a riot and Celyn surprised me. He was quite the hero in the ways I never thought he would be. Loved that Elina marked him with a Bear before he marked her. She is truly a Dragons match. Annwyl and Feargus are still in my top favorites. Was fun to start finding out what the Dragon/Human offspring can do. Loved this book please don't let it be so long for the next one
The trouble with humans is that they're far too sensitive. Forget you put a woman in the local jail for a few months--and she takes it so personally! And yet she is the one trying to assassinate the queen. And now I'm trapped with Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight…gods! That endless name! But what am I to do? I am Celyn the Charming with direct orders from my queen to protect this unforgiving female. Even more shocking, this unforgiving female is completely unimpressed by me. How is that even possible? But I know what I want and, for the moment, I want her. And I'm sure that she, like all females, will learn to adore me. How could she not when I am just so damn charming? Review: After two year, we finally get more witty, sarcastic and sexy dragons, I've missed my dragons! Anyone who knows me, knows I love G.A. Aiken's writing style and dialog that at times has me laughing out loud and my husband looking at me like I have lost my mind. All my fan girl ramblings aside. I think this book is better than the last couple of books. Even though this is Elina and Celyn's book, like the other books we see everyone because all the happenings are leading to what is going to happen with the half dragon offspring. This book though short on the sexiness was full of adventure and action. Celyn was cute in his clueless self, but Elina and her sister were kick ass and hilarious in their simplistic view of the world and the dragons. Of course we get to see all the other Dragons and their mates. Annwyl has always been one of my favorites and she is here and more crazy then normal, but crazy like a fox. Then you have those scary kids of Dagmar and Gwenvael. I cannot wait for the next book, from the way this one left off. I just hope it is sooner than two years to see what happens to these wonderfully crazy dragons and their mates. 5Stars
Action is good but it has too many words not to be used in public in it.
I absolutely love the dragon kin series. I can't put it down until I'm done reading.
But I have a quirky sense of humor.
Another chapter in the engrossing world of humans and dragons. Great characters, absorbing story line, laughter and suspense.
Too many odd names & family drama sorry lines bombarding you from the beginning.
~ 3.5 Light My Fire Stars ~ Light My Fire is book seven in the Dragon Kin series by G.A. Aiken. I LOVE dragon’s and have been waiting not so passionately to return to Ms. Aiken’s Dragon Kin world. It’s been a while since the last dragon book How to Drive a Dragon Crazy (2012) was published. I enjoyed return to this world and all the characters. At least ten years have passed from How to Drive a Dragon Crazy to Light My Fire in the plot. We get to see a lot of our previous characters we have come to enjoy and how their lives have progressed. I never expected their to be so many children between the dragons and humans. I knew things where changing, but not this much. The plot focuses on the abominations (or some would call them, but not all see them as such.) They are the human/dragon children/hybrids. Yes, they are different and I look forward to seeing how this progresses out. I enjoyed Elian & Celyn romance. It was nice. I have a weakness for these loud obnoxious ego-driven dragons with their quick wit that never falters no matter what is going on around them. Elian fit right into their world. I did have a hard time getting comfortable with Elian’s culture. Not sure why it was so hard. It just was. The other thing that I had trouble with in this installment was the jumping around from one character to another. We would end a chapter and then start a new one with someone else at a different point in the story. I don’t know, I needed more of a transition explanation or something. If you love laugh-out-loud humor, sexy arrogant dragons, and quick witted heroines then this series would be something to try. I am a fan and look forward to more. Its hot, sexy, and humors.
I love all of these books I'm addicted to them
I loved this book I have reread it a bunch of time. This is one author that with each book added to any of her series they just get better and better. Any book that can get you to laugh and keep you guessing page by page is impressive
I am crazy inlove with this dragon series ! Celyn and Elina's story has not disappointed either. With all the dragon and human family members in this story it was so very entertaining !
This series continues to be worth following. What wonderful characters, strong women, moving central story line that is weighty, changes over time. Individual romantic relationships are satisfying, funny, and steamy. On-going relationships are revisited, which is refreshing in series over time. I didn't love the inserted historic backstory segments but they weren't too intrusive. Whole book could have been a bit longer for developing points but knowing editors use a less is more premise and a 350 pg. average I guess 390 isn't too bad. Really looking forward to the next in the series.