MacAlister, Katie. Holy Smokes (2007). 341 Pages. Signet. $7.99
Aisling Grey, Guardian: Book Four || Dragons Universe Book Four
Seemingly, Holy Smokes is the last book which we will read about Aisling Grey, but it is certainly not the last we’ll hear of the Dragons. The rest of this review has been placed behind a tag because it is very full of spoilers (for the first three books, rather than the fourth). Click at your own risk.
Aisling Grey and Drake Viero are getting married, eventually. One thing after another comes up, preventing their marriage, no matter how many times they try. This lasts throughout the book, and is the main plot around which everything else revolves.
Eventually, Aisling- Guardian, Demon Lord, Wyvern’s Mate, Prince of Abaddon, and Venediger- decides she has had enough. She is proscribed- on the path to damnation- is no longer Drake’s mate, and pregnant. She’s constantly in trouble, and constantly playing catch-up with what is going on around her. She still has not done her reading, despite being told by everyone that she should through the previous three books.
There are international adventures, plots, sub-plots, twists, turns, and betrayals. There are dramatic moments of love and battle. There are even a few moments of pure what-the-fuckery. All of our old friends are back; Gabriel being mysterious, Rene being fate-y, Jim being sarcastic and crude, and even Uncle Damian, being a badass. We find out more about Drake’s back-story, and quite a bit more about Gabriel’s. There are several new characters introduced, but quite a few others do not make a re-appearance except by mention.
By the end of the book, Aisling has shed several superfluous titles, and is back to her old self. This makes everyone happily and leaves most of the ends tied up. Some things remain unexplained and un-concluded; where exactly is Fiat, what happened to Chuan Ren, what is going on with the Black Dragons, and how are things going to go for Gabriel? However, seemingly the Silver Dragon series picks up at least Gabriel’s story, so I’m sure more is forthcoming.
Considering the whole series:
Aisling is a frustrating main character; she doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes, and has apparently forgotten all of her studies. She continually fails to do research, or even do the readings which she is told will help her. Instead she relies on instincts which go ignored far too often. She is in love with her sexy dragon, but is not content to leave him as a bad-ass, and instead makes him open up and calls him diminutive pet names (“sweetie” does not suit a bad-ass wyvern). She rushes in without thinking about anything else, and continually puts herself in danger.
As far as the mechanics of the story goes; the dialog is constantly unnatural, stilted, or overly expository. There are many, many moments of “why did ___ just say that and ___ not react?” and a lot of moments of “Oh my god shut UP Jim/Aisling”. If you can make yourself ignore the dialog, the characters pop out as an issue; they do not always stay in character for themselves, and occasionally do something which is seemingly unexplainable by their personalities.
The plot occasionally feels forced, sometimes feels cheesy, and is awkward with unfortunate frequency.
The Quick Version:
This is another good book, funny as the others in the series. It’s just like all of Katie MacAlister’s other books; funny, but not amazing. Good without being fantastic, and solid without being incredible. It’s not mentally challenging, and is a pretty quick read. It’s again full of scenes between Aisling and Drake which are most excellent.
This is definitely not a book you can pick up and understand what’s going on without reading the others in the series; there is too much left unexplained, and too many plots which were started several books ago and have not concluded yet. It has earned a score of 4 out of 5, because despite all my gripes, it is a good book.