Guin the Emerald (Shift #2) – Louisa Kelley

3.5⭐️ – “Expect chaos and brace for impact.” If you learn one lesson from dragon shifters, let it be this one.

Guin had to stay in Oregon with former villain Miriam to fix the issues created by the events in Fianna the Gold (don’t attempt to read this book as a standalone, you’d miss too much background), with the help of her younger cousin Kaitrin. As the Draca start feeling problems with the magic and the link to their homeworld, they’re tasked with a new mission when Cellie, Orla’s niece and Kaitrin’s friend, turns out on Earth with a thousand-year-old dragon egg.

Dragon-shifters are a lot of fun to read about, and Louisa Kelley writes them well, complex yet relatable (yes, relatable dragons are a thing). As in book 1, there’s a lot of energy in the writing, it’s full of excitement and adrenaline. Even without huge battle scenes, there’s an epic quality to the story.

In my review of Fianna the Gold, I wrote that “one of my favourite aspects of shapeshifter stories is that the animal part of the characters gives authors the perfect excuse to go full instalust in a very plausible manner”. In this book, the author added another challenge to Guin’s plate, in the form of a rift between the Draca’s two selves: her human side is terribly attracted to smart and ambitious Miriam while her sister-self – her dragon side – can’t forgive. The disagreement between Guin and her dragon makes the attraction to Miriam even more interesting. Forbidden love is extra hot.

As in Fianna the Gold, the characters would make this book worth reading even if you don’t care about the story. Guin is growing into her leadership role, Miriam is all in on her redemption quest, young Cellie is adorable on the verge of adulthood and Kaitrin is clever and cheeky. And there’s a baby dragon. I mean, how do you beat that?

I have to admit I had a hard time trusting Miriam. She felt sincere in her regret but also cunning, and whenever she asked questions, I couldn’t help wonder why she was so interested. That stopped me from letting go entirely at first.

I had the same problem with the romance arc. We’re told of the terrific chemistry between Guin and Miriam but I didn’t see it happen, I didn’t see it being built up. If you can get over this issue, the energy crackling between Guin and Miriam is palpable and Miriam holds her own perfectly in the hotness department, even with Guin’s dragonly advantages.

And I missed the dragon trio. One of my favourite parts of Fianna the Gold was the special relationship between Fianna, Guin and Orla. It’s almost absent here, since Guin is in Oregon while her sisters are in Dracan. It made sense for the story but also took out an element I was looking forward to.

Now, after Fianna’s and Guin’s stories, I can’t wait to read Orla’s.

4-stars

Guin the Emerald @ Dirt Road Books

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