Rating: 4.5 stars
Dr. Philbert Jones is a renowned historian but he simply cannot get organized. His house is in complete disarray, dusty tomes and statues compete with a tower of papers and unidentifiable objects strewn everywhere. Nothing is where he can find it, so a close friend at the University suggested hiring an assistant, Arthur McArthur, a former student that had worked for him doing research. But he knows that humans can see dragons as the path to riches or as something to be feared. Only a few can get close enough to understand them and Philbert or Bertie as he wants to be called is looking for that rare human to help him with his next book.
Arthur McArthur loved being a research assistant in college but when he took in his younger sister, his bills mounted until he had to quit the university and get multiple jobs to pay all their bills. Now Arthur finds himself standing in Dr. Jones’ house, amidst gargantuan clutter, facing the dragon himself, and trying to remember the last time a dragon ate someone, decades ago surely? But the interview goes well, and Arthur leaves the house with a new job, and his head in the clouds. Professor Jones is gorgeous, brilliant and needs his help to research the Red Dragons, a topic that was the focus of Arthur’s dissertation. Then Bertie starts flirting with him, calling him a pearl…..surely the dragon isn’t serious, is he? There is nothing special about Arthur or does Bertie see something extraordinary in a boy called Arthur.
I loved this book and the author, R. Cooper, who is a recent must read for me. It started with Play It Again, Charlie, a contemporary romance, so I was not prepared for the intensity of a dragon/human love story that unfolds in A Boy And His Dragon. One of the things I admire about Cooper’s writing is that she takes the time to fully invest her characters with personalities that have depth and resonate with the reader. Arthur McArthur is a charming, noble lad who cannot see his own purity and forthrightness that attracts Beings (dragons, elves, or fairies) like honey to a bee. And Dr. Jones is definitely attracted. Bertie is another lovely creation. He is a dragon and neither Arthur or the reader is able to forget that. His thoughts come from a different place than ours and Cooper makes us see that in a manner that still lets us relate to this wonderful persona who just happens to breathe fire.
So while juggling the personalities of two completely different beings, the author gives us a slow but intense courtship between Bertie and Arthur. Neither is especially sure of themselves and each is afraid to take a step forward and admit that they are falling in love. While the story is told from Arthur’s pov, Bertie’s feelings are telegraphed beautifully as well while still leaving us with an Arthur oblivious to Bertie’s feelings. And then there are the descriptions of Bertie’s house, full of treasures and tomes laying under mountains of dust and neglect. The portrait she paints of Bertie’s abode is so rich, so realistic it will leave you coughing and wanting to open a window.
This story is so rich, so heated that it begs for another in the same universe. And of course, with the same characters. I wanted to know more about Bertie’s parents who seem to disapprove of their romantic son. And how Bertie and Arthur get on with their lives because you know that will not happen smoothly for these two. With Arthur’s sister needing their help and Bertie’s friend Zeru, another dragon, hanging about, you just know complication will arise and I want to be there when they happen. These are wonderful characters so full of life that one book surely is not big enough to hold their story. But while we are waiting, pick this one up and settle in with an unusual love story between A Boy And His Dragon.
Cover is delightful by artist Paul Richmond. I just wish he had played a little more with the descriptions of Bertie to give him that look that says he is not completely human.