The Smoke Thief (Drakon Series #1)

The Smoke Thief (Drakon Series #1)

by Shana Abé

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Overview

For centuries they’ve lived in secret among northern England’s green and misted hills. Creatures of extraordinary beauty, power, and sensuality, they possess the ability to shape-shift from human to dragon and back again. Now their secret—and their survival—is threatened by a temptation that will break every boundary. . . .

Dubbed the Smoke Thief, a daring jewel thief is confounding the London police. His wealthy victims claim the master burglar can walk through walls and vanish into thin air. But Christoff, the charismatic Marquess of Langford, knows the truth: the thief is no ordinary human but a “runner” who’s fled Darkfrith without permission. As Alpha leader of the dra´kon, it’s Kit’s duty to capture the fugitive before the secrets of the tribe are revealed to mortals. But not even Kit suspects that the Smoke Thief could be a woman.

Clarissa Rue Hawthorne knew her dangerous exploits would attract the attention of the dra´kon. But she didn’t expect Christoff himself to come to London, dangling the tribe’s most valuable jewel–the Langford Diamond–as bait. For as long as she could remember, Rue had lived the life of a halfling–half dra´kon, half mortal–and an outcast in both worlds. She’d always loved the handsome and willful Kit from the only place it was safe: from afar. But now she was no longer the shy, timid girl she’d once been. She was the first woman capable of making the Turn in four generations. So why did she still feel the same dizzying sense of vulnerability whenever he was near?

From the moment he saw her, Kit knew that the alluring and powerful beauty was every bit his Alpha equal and destined to be his bride. And by the harsh laws of the dra´kon, Rue knew that she was the property of the marquess. But they will risk banishment and worse for a chance at something greater. For now Rue is his prisoner, the diamond has disappeared, and she’s made the kind of dangerous proposition a man like Kit cannot resist. . . .

In this bewitching novel, Shana Abé transports us into a world of exhilarating romance and magic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553588040
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/26/2006
Series: Drakon Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 594,414
Product dimensions: 4.17(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Shana Abé is the award-winning author of nine novels, including The Smoke Thief. She lives in the Denver area with four surly pet house rabbits, all rescued, and a big goofy dog. Please, please support your local animal shelter, and spay or neuter your pets.

Read an Excerpt

The Smoke Thief


By Shana Abe

Random House

Shana Abe
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553804480


Chapter One


Chasen Manor
Darkfrith, England
1737

The Right Honourable Christoff Rene Ellery Langford, Earl of Chasen, was bored.

He had decided to demonstrate this fact by slouching in his chair, his legs outstretched and his blond head turned idly away from everyone else in his father's study. One sun-darkened cheek was propped languidly upon his fist; his green eyes were hooded, masked with brown lashes. He listened to his father talk with the haughty, brooding air common to either the young or the powerful.

Kit, as it happened, was both. Sixteen years old and well-acknowledged as the heir to the tribe, he endured these meetings as his duty. He did not speak. He did not bother to meet the eyes of the other men present. When he looked up from his boots he chose to contemplate the view from the Tudor windows, the summer lush hills and rich black trees. The beckoning woods.

He listened to the same debate the council had at every meeting now. He could practically predict, verbatim, who would say what.

"The safety of the tribe is paramount. We must ensure our survival."

Parrish Grady again. The man never let up. Eldest member of the council, blue-eyed, sharp-toothed. Kit was beginning to consider him his own personal nemesis, if for no other reason than these meetings crawled on hours longer than they would without him.

Outside, just over a distant hill, appeared a flock of girls. About Kit's age, white skirts, frilled aprons, straw hats with ties that dangled in the wind. A few carried armfuls of flowers. He watched them come closer.

"Naturally, Parrish, our survival is paramount." Kit's father, the marquess. "No one debates that."

"We need a full-blood female!"

"I'd say we've been doin' our best there," retorted Rufus Booke, brash and newly wed, "though mayhap you'd prefer to check our beds every night."

Kit snorted back a laugh. He felt his father's gaze flick to him, then away.

"Aye, we need a female," the Marquess of Langford agreed. "But we do not appear to have one. Yet. There are several young tribeswomen on the verge of the rebirth. We may hope one of them will complete the Turn."

"Hope," repeated Grady, derisive. "Four generations it's been, and no female to make the Turn! What will happen to us-all of us-when it becomes impossible for the menfolk as well?"

Silence greeted this. It was the great, simmering fear among the tribe, that the Gifts would be taken. That their powers would fade.

"We cannot force our fate," said the marquess, harder now. "We all understand that. We are what we are. Our more immediate concern is the perimeter of the forest. There have been signs of recent disturbance, not our own. Strangers are prowling our lands. Christoff reported horse tracks up to Hawkshead Point."

"Hawkshead? But that's not even ours! What the devil is the boy doing all the way out there? We have rules! He left the boundary!"

Again, the distinctive prickle of his father's gaze. Kit allowed himself the slightest curl of his lips.

"Let us focus on the matter at hand," said the marquess smoothly. "Hawkshead is adjacent to our boundaries. If someone has chanced that far . . ."

The girls had paused in a soft valley between the hills, clutching their hats as the breeze turned brisker. Sunlight showed honeyed locks flying and flaxen, strawberry blond and ginger red. Four girls, smiling and chattering amid the green. Someone loosed her flowers, and the August wind blew them into bright confusion.

Parrish Grady thumped a fist on the arm of his chair. "The boy's too wild, even for our kind. He needs to be reined in. You know it yourself, my lord."

Kit stared a little harder at the girls, his eyes narrowed.

"Thank you, Mr. Grady, but I take the responsibility of raising my son as my own."

"If he is to be Alpha-"

"There is no if," hissed the marquess, coming to his feet. "You will do well to understand that right now."

Silence fell once more across the study. One of the men cleared his throat, nervous, but said nothing.

Outside, the flower girls had gone very still. The strawberry blonde turned her face into the breeze-and the other three did the same. Kit recognized them now, Fanny and Suzanne, daughters of the smith, Liza from the mill. And Melanie, their leader. Melanie, of the apple cheeks and soft petal lips. Melanie, with her quick, cunning smile. He stirred in his chair, leaning casually on his elbow to see what they did.

Sky, grass, woods . . . and a shape in the trees. Another girl.
"There is the matter of the runners," volunteered a new voice, George Winston.

"Aye, the runners," began the murmurs across the room, and the marquess sat down again.

The woodsgirl realized that she had been discovered. She stood frozen as well, smaller than the other four, pressed up against the trunk of a tree. Kit could make out one pale hand against the bark, fingers splayed. He could not see her face.

Very, very slowly, she began to ease backward.

Melanie had turned to the others. She was speaking. She was taking off her hat.

". . . precisely as I said. We cannot risk further incidents with outsiders. We were fortunate enough to capture the Williams boy before he had gotten too far, but the next time may be the time that he-or some other hotheaded young fool-manages to evade us. I shudder to think of what might have happened had he made it past the shire. I need to have a word with his parents again. And then the gamekeepers, I think . . ."

The woodsgirl had managed hardly a step. Perhaps she hoped the others were bluffing; Kit, however, knew Melanie better than that. With infinite care the girl slid back another step, and then Kit caught her profile. It was that lass, the scrawny one always ducking from crowds, peering out of shadows . . . what was her name? He frowned, trying in his mind to place her amid the intricate shoots and branches of the tribe families. He'd seen her mostly around the village, brown-haired, white-skinned. Timid. Mousy, even, if such a word could be applied to any member of their kin.

Melanie's group began to walk toward her and the woodsmouse froze again-then lost her nerve. She skipped back. It was all Melanie needed.

The four girls broke into a sprint.

Kit straightened in his chair, forgetting his father's meeting. Four against one was hardly sporting, especially as the prey was so much younger than the hunters. The mouse vanished from view, swiftly followed by the others. He had glimpses of gowns flashing through the trees, and then nothing.

Calm settled back upon the forest, unbroken, silent as winter snow.

Kit uncrossed his ankles, considering. He'd seen the little mouse more and more of late, now that he thought about it. Always quiet, always alone.

If she had any sense, she'd head for the river. They might lose her scent there-

"Christoff? Christoff! Are you listening, boy?"

"Aye," Kit answered, with just that trace of surliness guaranteed to send color into his father's cheeks. "The perimeter, the runners. Dire peril to the tribe, et cetera."

"How gratifying to have your attention." The marquess thinned his lips. "Perhaps, then, you might have a suggestion for the council?"

For the first time Kit looked around at the gathered faces fixed upon him, tanned and pale and avid eyes.

"Regarding the matter of your bride?" prompted his father softly.

Kit opened his mouth to speak. But just then the woods erupted; the young girl hurtled out of the trees in a flap of skirts and mad streaming hair, her face flushed, cutting a sharp angle across the perfectly manicured rear lawn.

Kit stood, and all the men turned.

"What the-oh-it's-"

"The Hawthorne gel," said George. "Halfling. Clara, Clareta-"

"Clarissa," supplied Kit, in a spark of memory. "And Mel," he added dryly, as the other four emerged at her heels, gaining.

"Ah." The marquess took his seat again with his back to the window. "Halfling. Well, then, no matter. Gentlemen, shall we continue?"

But Kit remained standing, watching the lass run.



She crept into the cottage kitchen on her toes but, as usual, wasn't furtive enough to fool her mother.

"Clarissa? Is that you?"

"Yes, Mama."

She ought to have known she couldn't slip in and hide; her mother's senses were far too keen for that. Or perhaps it was the draft from the back door that gave her away. Either way, she thought glumly, she was caught now.

"What are you doing, child?"

"Washing up."

She dipped her hands into the chipped basin on the counter, scrubbing, watching the water turn pink with blood. She found the dishcloth and ran it over her face, wiping off the dirt, more blood.

"Mama, would you like tea?" she called.

"Yes, dear. That would be lovely."

She set the kettle to boil and scooped the tea leaves from this morning's breakfast, still damp, back into the teapot. She tossed the wash water out over the back steps-sending a quick, nervous look around the garden first-and then refilled it from the cistern.

The kettle began to steam.

By the pot of geraniums on the windowsill was the polished tin oval she had given her mother last Christmas, hung up by a yellow ribbon. It showed the kitchen in dusky gray and always made her face into a long, funny shape that reminded her of a fish, but it was still a better mirror than the windowpanes.

Clarissa examined her reflection critically: her hair was snarled, the white tucker at her collar torn. There was dirt on her elbows and three drops of blood across her bodice. Her lower lip throbbed red and bruised.

"Clarissa, I believe the water's ready."

"Yes, Mama."

No time to change gowns. She brushed herself off as best she could, recaptured her hair and twisted it into a haphazard bun. She poured the hot water into the teapot, set it on the tray along with cups and honey and cream, and then bread with the last of the butter.

One final look into the tin oval. Better, but not best. She widened her eyes to round perfect innocence and practiced a smile-wincing at her lip-then picked up the tray and carried it to her mother's room.

Antonia Hawthorne was sitting up in bed, her ashen hair in plaits, her hands folded on her lap. It was one of her better days; Clarissa could hardly hear her breathing. Her face was drawn but her eyes ever bright as she surveyed her daughter. Her mouth took on a ruthful slant.

"Oh, dear."

With great care, Clarissa set the tray upon the bedside table, unable suddenly to look up from the butter pats.

"Tell me," her mother invited in her soft, gentle voice. She waited as Clarissa fumbled with the spoons, her face still downturned, then said more firmly, "Clarissa Rue."

"An accident. I tripped over a tree root."

"Did you?"

Clarissa tried her wide-eyed look upon the teapot, beginning to pour. "Yes. I was clumsy. I tripped, and then I rolled down a hill. You know that one just past Blackstone Fell. It's very steep."

"Yes. I know it is."

Clarissa handed her the cup, meeting her gaze. "And that's what happened."

Antonia took a sip of tea. "Was Miss Melanie there?"

"No."

"Nor the others?"

"No." Clarissa began to meticulously butter the bread.

"You must stay away from them. I've told you before. They will not be kind to you."

The bread in her hand began a watery waver; she squeezed her eyes closed and felt a tear slink down the side of her nose.

"It is not your fault," said Antonia.

Another tear fell.

"It is mine," finished her mother, still soft.

Clarissa dropped the bread to the tray, swiping at her eyes with greasy fingers.

"Come here, my sweet girl," said Antonia, and Clarissa sniffed and crawled over the covers, slippers and dirty gown and all, nestling into her mother's embrace.

She smelled of medicine and lilacs. Her heartbeat was a fluttering thrum against Clarissa's ear.

She felt her mother's hand lift, begin to work loose the unkempt knot she had made of her hair. Clarissa turned her head and spoke down into the pillows; her voice came out as a miserable whisper.

"Won't they ever like me, Mama?"

"No, beloved. They won't."

"But I try to be like them-"

"You are more beautiful, more wonderful than all those savage girls put together. You are the most precious gift of my life. I am so proud of you, and your father would have been too. But . . ." Antonia's fingers paused; she seemed to be searching for words. "When the tribe looks at you-all they see is him. And he was not one of us."

"One of you, you mean," Clarissa muttered.

"One of us. Half your blood is my blood, the tribe's blood. That is your heritage. No one can deny you it."

The ruffles of her mother's gown were thin and worn, crumpled beneath her cheek. She wiped away another tear.

"Keep alone if you must, keep apart," murmured Antonia, stroking her daughter's dark hair. "Someday you'll grow up to be a splendid young woman, and you'll find a man who will love you for exactly who you are, just as I did. But know, my darling, that no matter what the future brings, you will always have a place here, with the tribe."



She knew whom she wanted to love her. She knew whom she wanted to rescue her, to speak her name and laugh with her and defend her from the world with the sudden, blinding charm of his smile.

Christoff. Golden, lovely Christoff, with his eloquent hands and sleepy green eyes that seemed to fill her soul whenever he chanced to see her. Which wasn't often, she had to admit. There wasn't a boy in the shire to compare to him. That's what Clarissa thought. And that's what Melanie and Liza and all the rest thought too. Clarissa knew, because even though she was only twelve and she hadn't the full blood of the tribe in her veins, she did have one single, clever skill: stealth.

She was very good at it. Or, rather, she had been. Till this afternoon.

She lay awake in her bed and counted the stars through her window, watching Cepheus and Cassiopeia tilt across the heavens. She loved the night best. It was the time for dreaming, for imagining what might be.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe
Excerpted by permission.
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.

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The Smoke Thief (Drakon Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing love story and one of my all-time favorites. The story is unique, the main characters are both strong and so perfect for eachother. They have incredible chemistry. I read this book every few months, and it's wonderful every time. I'll never get tired of it. Absolutely perfect.
Anonymus More than 1 year ago
I've read hundreds of books and I'm always looking for that story that just blows me away. I came across this story by accident; just looking, always looking. The review that said "I just couldn't put the freaking book down" caught my attention. Every once in a while, I find a treasure-an author with an imagination who tells a great story. This story was it! I highly recommend it. I was pleasantly surprised, my couriosity and imagination happily fed, and totally engrossed. This one is for the library. Looking forward to the next novel by Ms. Abe.
MorningDewW More than 1 year ago
From the cover and the summary on the book, I didn't think it would be all that interesting and had bought it actually out of boredom. Then I read through it and it's definitely a 'I can't put this freaking book down!' type of book. I would recommend this to people who love romance and fantasy type books, definitely a good hit.
Mickey29 More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to anyone. Clarrisa Rue (A.K.A Mouse, Smoke theif) is a runner of a dragon people. An outcast since she was little not liking her life she fled. Only to be caught by the man she loved since she was little. Christoff. The story plot develops nicely as do the characters. I have read this book at least 4-5 times and still can't get enough of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutly love this book. I keep reading it over and over again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book.It was refreshing and original.I flew right through it,and I cannot wait to get Dream Theif.I'm hoping it will be up to par with Smoke Theif.
vwhis More than 1 year ago
I read the reviews and I took a chance since I'm not really into romance novels...BUT it has DRAGONS. It's really a good story and I feel you'll like the characters, the plot and the ending. One should be aware though, that there are a few vivid love couplings but they don't dominate the storyline. Overall, I am considering looking into Ms. Abe's other books and I reccomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Could not put it down...excellent read!
BlondeBibliophile on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ehhhh.....I liked it. Sure, why not. It is an interesting tale that is well written, but I felt a little disconnected from the story while reading it. Also, it takes place in the 1700s. Yak. Not my thing. I already own the subsequent books in this series and will be reading them soon. But, I am not bouncing with excitement at the prospect.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
And enjoyably romantic book with a twist. Drakons have amazing shape shifting abilities. I loved the imagery of the passion between Rue and Kit as they turned and turned again.
reneebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
TST takes place in Georgian England and tells the story of drákons, shapeshifting creatures who live in secret in the beautiful Darkfrith valley in northern England. These creatures have the ability to shapeshift from human to smoke to dragon and back again. For centuries they have lived by a very strict set of rules. One of these rules is that no one is allowed to live outside their valley. Clarissa Rue Hawthorne is part mortal and part drákon and because of her mixed blood is made to feel like an outcast because she is different. On her 17th birthday she fakes her own drowning in order to start a new life free from prejudice.Some years later the Council of Darkfrith is alerted to rumors that a jewel thief in London can disappear into smoke. They realize that this was not a human but another 'runner' who has escaped from Darkfrith without permission. The continued existence of their people and its traditions relies on their secrecy so they want the drákon runner captured immediately. Their Alpha leader, Christoff 'Kit' Ellery, Marquess of Langford, travels to London to hunt down the runner and brings the Herte diamond to use as bait for his trap. To his amazement he discovers that the runner is an Alpha female who can Turn (change from human to dragon), a phenomenon that has not happened in four generations.TST was a totally engrossing book that I found impossible to put down. I had my nose in the book constantly and Bob was having a harder than usual time getting my attention. :) One of my problems with fantasy is there is usually too much world building and too many weird names and places. But there was NONE of that here. The world building was minor and very subtle and the names and places were 'normal'.The plot was fascinating and inventive and the characters were fully drawn. Clarissa was a wonderfully strong heroine and a perfect match for Kit. But I did have a problem with Kit at first. He was so overly Alpha that I wanted to strangle him. When he finds out the Smoke Thief is female he is determined to have her at any cost. He lies and cheats and manipulates her so he can drag her back to Darkfrith against her will. But before he can do that they work together to solve a minor mystery and he grows to love her. The sensuality was hot and intense and the imagery of their flights together was beautifully breathtaking. I think AAR's reviewer, Lynn, had a problem with the ending, but I bought it completely. I found Kit's change of character very believable giving TST a terrific ending. (Grade: B+)
rainrunner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I came home from work, grabbed a handful of cashews (um, dinner), fed the dogs and the son, and dove in to finish. This was great. Love, thieves, London, sex, dragons. I mean, what more could you ask for?
rcstewa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
** spoiler alert ** I wanted to love this book. I really did. The friend who recommended it to me couldn't stop raving about the series. I've loved every other book she's recommended to me, and I really enjoy fantasy/paranormal romances. But, this was just bad.My biggest problem was the hero. Kit was an ass, through and through. He states multiple times that he will sleep with the heroine, even if he has to rape her. When they finally do have sex, Kit mentions that Rue keeps trying to pull away from him, but he doesn't care. It's all very awkward, and made me rather uncomfortable. I don't have a problem with rape in books, if it is important to the story, but this was presented as romantic. And it wasn't.At one point, Kit gets a horrible blood infection. I was really hoping it would kill him. But, alas.The fantasy elements in this book are also not what I had hoped. They can turn into smoke and dragons, but it's not really used for anything, except a stupid plot device.All in all, the best part of the book in the Prologue. It's beautifully written, and talks about the backstory of the drakón...a story that sounds much more interesting than the one we were actually told.
jdquinlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From the Inside Flap:Only a man who was pure magic could catch her...For centuries they've lived in secret among northern England's green and misted hills. Creatures of extraordinary beauty, power, and sensuality, they possess the ability to shape-shift from human to dragon and back again. Now their secret - and their survival - is threatened by a temptation that will break every boundary...My Review:The story begins with a dramatic and lyrical telling of the legend of the drakon. It's really very beautifuly written and really draws the reader into a seductive world of mist and magic. "This was the legacy the drakon had left behind with their castle: one son and one daughter, and from them generations of new life to dwell amid the mist and haunt the Others below, until they learned the secrets of their enemies. Until they learned to become them...to look as they did, to breathe and eat and speak as they did. To plod the earth as the Others did, all the while hiding their true faces, their true hearts."In eighteenth-century England, a rare breed of creature, the drakon, struggles to stay true to the old ways of their race while avoiding detection in an increasingly modern world. Very few are permitted to leave the boundaries of their secluded shire, but when reports of a bold jewel thief in London with unique talents that cause the press to dub him The Smoke Thief, reach the Elder Council, the drakon realize that someone has escaped them. Christoff "Kit" Langford, Earl of Chasen and leader of the drakon, sets out on a risky mission to use the clan's Herte diamond to lure the thief into a trap to be transported back to the shire for punishment. But Kit's in for a surprise, for the Smoke Thief is not a man at all, but a woman - and one he never thought to see again.When Rue Hawthorne discovered at the age of seventeen that she posessed a talent no other female drakon had ever had before, she faked her death to escape the restrictions of the shire. She's boldly lived among humans ever since, testing the limits of her powers, but she's about to take one step too far, and the consequences could prove to be disastrous to the secret clan of the ancient drakon. When the Herte disappears, Rue is forced to help Kit track it down. Though she doesn't trust him, she can't deny her attraction to him or the power of the bond that grows between them as they endanger themselves in an effort to protect the clan.This is a sexy and imaginative tale of romance and adventure. I've read shape-shifting dragon stories by several other authors, and The Smoke Thief is a stand-out among them, seamlessly blending a tale of old-world magic with eighteenth-century London society. Elegantly written, smart, sensous and highly recommended.
littleflwers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. Just reading the prologue was great. The book is about Clarissa who is a halfling. Half Dragon and Half Human. She grows up in thier secret city taunted and abused by the other children, and dismissed as only a halfling by the adults. At 17 Clarissa disappears. She is thought to have drowned in a nearby pond. Many years later Christoff who is now the Alpha, figures out that the Smoke Thief is one of them and is determined to capture and bring them back to the secret city of Darkfrith. Without giving any more of this book away, suffice it to say that this was a magical read. Incredible amount of magic, shapeshifting, romance, adventure. It had it all. I liked the writing style, the way Ms. Abe describes scenes is absoulutely breathless. Her details of the characters and areas in the book are so clear and precise, you really can visualize it easily while reading. I recommend this book highly. On to The Dream Thief which is her next book in the series.
aprillee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this paranormal romance (it seems to be marketed as a fantasy, but to me it falls squarely in the romance genre), a race of dragon shape-shifters try to exist hidden among ordinary humans in 18thC. Europe. They have settled at Darkfrith in the North of England and have developed rather draconian rules for their society. It is forbidden to leave Darkfrith without permission. All "runners" will be hunted down and either brought back, if they are a precious breeding female, or killed if they are male.Clarissa, as a half-human drakon, has never fit in. She risks everything to begin a daring new life in London, using her unusual skills, such as being able to turn into smoke, to become a master thief. Unfortunately her exploits bring her to the attention of Christoff, Marquess of Langford and Alpha leader of the drakon, who is charged with hunting her down.There have been fantasy-romances before, and plenty of alpha-heroes, but the best thing about this tale is the rich, magical, fairy-tale quality of the writing. Many of the descriptions are enchantingly beautiful. But the fairy-tale feeling also creates a bit of a distance between the reader and the characters. I found the main characters both interesting and sympathetic, but sometimes their thoughts and motivations were obscure. It was still a pretty little tale that is worth at least a quick read.
vegaheim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
interesting spin on dragons. good read, quick
Stewartry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
They sneaked Shana Abé¿s Smoke Thief by me in the fantasy section ¿ had it been where it (sort of) properly belonged, in with the romances, I would never have cracked the cover. But it was in fantasy, and had a great title, and the premise ¿ a (beautiful, of course) young woman making her unique way in Georgian London as a jewel thief, who apparently steals the wrong jewel and is stalked by the (handsome, of course) owner ¿ sounded like fun. I like charming and accomplished fictional thieves. Case in point: John Robie. And now Rue, the heroine of Smoke Thief. I hated the historical-recap beginning; it bordered on purple, and is why I had as much trouble as I did getting into the story. But it¿s fairly necessary information, and soon over, followed by another vignette closer in time to the story, nicely showing the youth of and demonstrating the difficulties for the two main characters. And then we¿re off at the gallop into the story, in which Clarissa Hawthorne has escaped a miserable childhood as a half-breed in a society which does not tolerate half-breeds. She comes from a small, secret English village which is held by the drákon, who once were purely draconian in form and function but who have adapted to their perilous existence by learning human form. Appearance of humanity isn¿t acceptance of humanity, though ¿ they are, of course, far superior to mere humans, and any intermingling of the races leads to, at best, ostracism for all concerned. But it is generally held to be better to remain in the village as a despised adjunct to the clan than to flee the village and be hunted down and executed ¿ because only the highest ranking of the drákon are allowed to leave, for fear of exposure. Except Clarissa has left, and is living the life she wants as Rue. Until the Right Honourable Christoff René Ellery Langford, Earl of Chasen (aka Kit) shows up ¿ He is the head of the tribe, and is responsible for a) retrieving the jewel stolen from the tribe (jewels having a similar effect on the drákon to drugs), and b) retrieving this person who somehow escaped from the tribe¿s strictures. When he finds out that the runner in question is a woman, and one who can successfully change shape, the priorities shift. Centuries after they learned to take human shape, the drákon are finding it more difficult to shake it off: men normally grow into the ability to change their form to smoke and to drákon (dragon), but women seem to be losing the knack ¿ and the head of the tribe must mate with a woman who can shift. Enter the romance portion of our story. It¿s a different twist on a classic romance theme ¿ two (excessively beautiful) people who are going to marry (and, er, etc.) whether they both like it or not ¿ and Rue very much doesn¿t. Except when she does. She loved Kit when they were both children, but she was (almost) beneath his notice; now she hates and fears the idea of being dragged back to the village and forced to ¿ best case scenario ¿ go back to the restricted life she once had ¿ and, worst case, face imprisonment or execution. She¿s forced into the union ¿ but she likes it. And happily ever etc. Classic romance. But it was really not bad at all. Some of the writing rose above what I expect of a romance, certainly, and even what I expect of a fantasy novel; the characters were believable and not paper cutouts. I liked the conception of the drákon and how they were integrated into what would otherwise be a well-written romance novel ¿ it takes it off the romance shelf in my library (which actually is just a shameful little section of ¿fiction¿) and moves it, as Books & Co had it, firmly into fantasy. There are sequels; I probably won¿t buy them new (sorry), but will at some point when I don¿t feel like I¿ve spent an absurd amount of money on myself put some effort into finding the ones I don¿t have (one was at a library sale last year ¿ yay). What I wonder is whether there is so very much of a subgenre of roma
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It started off with a rather inert telly prologue that nevertheless had a cool premise--this novel is a mixture of historical (Georgian England) and paranormal (shape-shifters into dragons) romance, and does have some imaginative elements. The titular heroine, Rue, is a jewel thief. Unfortunately the focus isn't on any of those aspects, but the "romance" which features the a-hole "alpha," Kit, of the shape-shifting dragon "tribe" who, since the heroine is his destined "mate," sees nothing wrong with doing whatever it takes to get her to yes. The sex scene isn't quite played as rape but had this charming line: Rape or seduction. He would take either. Having suffered through "emerald" and "jade eyes" for the hero and "chocolate" and "chestnut" hair for the heroine, "warm folds" and "velvet sheaths" that line--unfortunately all the way on page 215--did me in. Hey--it was the first book on a romance book recommendation list I was working through--after that I got way less forgiving. First book in a series--won't be looking the others up.
Cynara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Smoke Thief has two things on its side; first, it starts with a cool premise; dragons live in 18th century England, disguised as humans: golden talons among the satin breeches & snuffboxes, etc. Second, the heroine, who is clever and a consummate rogue. Unfortunately, there are equally powerful forces holding this book back. The intriguing premise isn't explored enough for me. I understand that Abé's focus here is on the romance and not on world-building, and perhaps I want more of the first because I feel like I was shortchanged on the second. On to our next problem: the hero, Kit. Abé falls into the common trap of reiterating over and over a) how beautiful the hero is, b) how much the heroine loves him, c) how beautiful the hero thinks the heroine is, and d) how much he wants to have sex with her. This is not enough to make me interested in Kit, and definitely not enough to make me overlook his unpleasant behavior. Abé gives us good reasons to root for Rue, the heroine - her skill, her vulnerability, her independence - and
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a sexy, fast-paced - if light - fantasy romance. I was a bit thrown, as my library has this one cataloged in fantasy and this is straight-up romance, with strong fantasy elements.A race of people who can shapeshift into dragons are vigilant in keeping their secret - no one is allowed to leave the clan, so when a thief in London begins making the papers for his ability to vanish into thin air, Kit, Marquess of Langford and Alpha of the drákons, knows it must be one of their own. But who?This is set in the 1700s in England, and Abé mixes historical fiction and fantasy quite well. The two main characters, Kit and Rue, are well-fleshed out and have a very strong chemistry. This is a super sexy read, and I enjoyed most of it...with the exception of the Prologue and Epilogue, which are meant as background story (and follow-up) and are both written in a fable/legend/myth style. They were boring, cheesy and felt like cheating - I feel like Abé could have found a way to work this information into the main story.Overall, though, I recommend this one!
LauraLulu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars. It was a good story and I loved Christoff but Rue bugged me quite often. Seriously, you have been in love with him since you were 12, he's hot in the sack and beautiful to look at, but you don't want to marry him because you know he will never love you as much as you love him? Whatchu talkin' bout Willis? And horror of horrors, you have to go back to the shire where you grew up, where you were a half breed and all the girls were mean to you. Except now you go back as the alpha female, married to the alpha male that all those beotches want. Yeah, sucks to be you. But other than those silly devices used to keep them apart, it was a good book for a PNR.
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a beautifully written and captivating book, but don't be fooled by the reviews that say this book crosses genres. This book is a romance. There are some fantasy elements, but this book is without a doubt a romance.The books starts in one of the lost cities of the drakon where we meet an outcast half-breed named Clarissa and the marquess Christoff. The book then jumps 15 years later to deal with a young lady named Rue who is the Smoke Thief. The prologue is amazing, the rest of the book is just your standard romance.Much to my disappointment minimal time is spent on the Smoke Thief's antics. Almost immediately Christoff enters the picture and begins to woo Rue. Here starts your very typical romance type of plot. Rue is willful, Christoff loves her but is too overbearing and controlling, Rue struggles with her attraction to Christoff. I won't spoil the outcome but if you know the typical outcome of an alpha male type romance then you already know this story.Despite the above complaint it is a very well-written story. It is a beautiful love story. There is some action but I found the action scenes to be far and few; this may have been a blessing in disguise because action scenes do not seem to be the author's strong point. Abe is very adept at writing about lush surroundings and beautiful descriptions. Her love scenes are magically written and well done. If you like Victorian style romances this is definitely the book for you.Overall I liked the story and it was a quick read. I was pulled right through it from beginning to end. I guess I just felt a bit misled from what I have heard about this being a magical fantasy novel. There is a touch of that but it does not by any means dominate the love story. I'll repeat one more time, this is a romance...a beautifully written and lush romance.I have the second book from this author which is called The Dream Thief. It looks like this second book deals with some of the side characters from the first. I am still looking forward to reading it but I don't know that I will read many of the books beyond this one.
Lam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very different. It was sometimes too wordy and I sometimes felt myself wishing that the author would get the point already, but overall it was a fantastic book.
Mendoza on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tend to like this sort of fantasy, shapeshifting stuff but I have to say it really was a liekable story. The heroine was strong and unapologetic for her life - which really endeared me to her.The hero made his decisions and didn't waver from his course. I liked that about him.The seperate society of these dragons fit nicely in the story and I enjoyed it immensely