Dark Promise by M. L. Guida
Series: Yes (title unknown)
Love can unlock the secret to saving two worlds.
As the Golden Aspen Tree withers, darkness consumes the Dragon Demons of the Underworld, turning them feral. Prince Eric Wyvern must keep his darkness at bay and woo the silver-haired human tainted with angel blood whose touch is prophesied to save the Golden Tree and restore light to the Underworld.
Cassandra Wright, a gifted psychic, has dreamed of Eric her whole life. When her dream lover joins her on a ski vacation, he plunges her into a nightmare. Imprisoned in a dying world filled with abuse and torture, she must become the Demon Prince’s mate or remain trapped forever. If she fails to fulfill the prophecy, the darkness will spread to her world. But how can she give herself to this dark and frightening version of the man of her dreams?
Eric will give Cassandra the world, if only he can make her see past the darkness to the man he really is, and help him save it first.
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DARK PROMISE is a novella that’s supposed to bring the steam and a new take on dragons but it fell quite short for me.
Generally, I liked both Cassandra and Eric. Cassandra is so sweet and innocent and wants so desperately to be normal. It’s easy to relate to her and sympathize with her. Eric is extremely alpha, which made sense in the context of the world he lives in but doesn’t translate terribly well by modern standards. He came of as overly domineering and a bit creepy in the first half of the novella: he’s been sneaking into Cassandra’s mind and giving her super detailed sex dreams for years, he knows all about her, he’s determined to make her his mate to save his people. Really, it’s the first thing that bothers me. It’s such a major invasion and it’s made her feel like she has an issue, since she’s so wrapped up in her dream man that she can’t seem to date other people. He’s kind of messed up her head and she forgives him much more quickly than I would, though this probably has something to do with the fact that this is a paranormal romance novella and time (and word count) is short.
The worldbuilding in DARK PROMISE had some interesting aspects. I appreciate Guida’s attempt to craft a new mythology for dragons but there was a lot going on. First, Dragon Demons, as they are called, are descended from angels and live in a parallel dimension. They can travel between dimensions fairly easily, it seems. That part was different from what we usually see, which I appreciate. It’s great when writers add a creative twist to supernatural creatures we’re all familiar with. However, the idea that the only thing keeping them from going “feral” and turning into evil creatures who revel in torture, domination, and war is a magic tree that’s about to lose all of its leaves — that didn’t work as well for me. I had hoped the idea would make for a good story — after all, I did request the eARC — but DARK PROMISE fell flat for me since most of Cassandra and Eric’s time is spent with them in one of three ways: (1) Cassandra is scared but oddly drawn to Eric, (2) they are doing sexy things, (3) Eric and/or Cassandra experience the horrible ways that the Dragon Demons behave without a strong magic tree. The magic tree seemed like an excuse to have characters be very evil and then, if the tree is saved, suddenly become good again. It seems like an easy out and that’s not how I like my stories to unfold.
Readers who enjoy the alphahole will probably get into DARK PROMISE but there wasn’t enough character development for me, in the protagonists or the rest of the cast. We do get a sense of who Eric and Cassandra are but everyone else seems very stock. I appreciate the review copy of this novella but this is where I part ways with Guida. DARK PROMISE didn’t deliver the sexy paranormal story I was expecting.
**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**