Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: True of Heart
SERIES: The Draegan Lords #1
AUTHOR: M.L. Rhodes
PUBLISHER: Kellesborne Press
LENGTH: 170 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 6th, 2017
A hundred years ago, the high sorcerer of Velensperia launched a swift and deadly attack against the draegans—a race of dragon shapeshifters who’d always lived in harmony with the humans. The draegans were all but destroyed, with the few who remained, scattered and in hiding. Now, a group of them have united and begun to fight back. Their leader, Keiran Hareldson, seeks to free his people from the cruel repression the high sorcerer’s reign has imposed on them.
Gaige Rizik is captain of the sorcerer’s High Guard, and known for his lethal ability to hunt down his prey with no remorse. His orders are to infiltrate the draegan rebels’ camp, learn their plans, and identify their leader so he can be destroyed. But when Gaige joins the rebels, posing as a human sympathizer to the draegans’ cause, he discovers the shapeshifters aren’t the bloodthirsty beasts he’s been led to believe, and their leader is a passionately captivating man who only wants what’s best for his people. Keiran sparks powerful emotions in Gaige, tearing down his walls of steely control, and stirring a longing in him he can’t deny.
Torn between his duty to the high sorcerer and his growing feelings not only for Keiran, but for the draegan way of life, Gaige knows he’s damned no matter which he chooses. In a world of lies, deception, and dark secrets, one false move will bring destruction to all he’s begun to hold dear. With the fate of so many lives on his shoulders, Gaige’s only hope is to follow his heart…and pray it’s true enough to save them all.
TRUE OF HEART was previously published. This new, second edition has been revised, with added content and word count, since its original release.
This is the epic story of Keiran and Gaige. Keiran is the leader of a race of beings known as draegans, who are dragon shape shifters. A nasty sorcerer takes a disliking (to put it mildly) to the draegans and starts a war against them. One hundred years later, the draegans, lead by Keiran, are scattered and hiding from the humans. Most humans are fine with draegans, some live and work with them, but the sorcerers followers hunt them, both on land and in the air, restricting the use of their dragon forms. Gaige is one of the high sorcerers captains and the son of one of his strongest followers. Gaige, for the most part, has followed blindly, taking orders, occasionally killing, and building a reputation as a fearsome warrior. He has begun to question the high sorcerer’s orders, even to the point of getting punished. Now he’s been sent to infiltrate the draegan’s last hiding place, and provide the location, and preferably the leader. Gaige does make his way to the settlement of draegans and humans, and works his way in. As he gains the trust of the draegans and humans, he begins to feel an affinity to them all, and an attraction to one in particular. Keiran. The two start quite the adventure and romance in this story, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens to them!
I read this book in 2009, and loved it. I haven’t read it since, but I’ve kept an eye on M.L. Rhodes via social media, because we have been waiting for the new book in the series for several years. Several years…. I was very happy to see she was re-releasing the series, with a bit of editing and additions, and saying she was going to release the much anticipated new book. I decided to re-read the series in preparation for the new book. So not having read this one in over seven years, I was curious to see how I liked it now. I’ve re-read books that I first read early in my m/m reading experience, and some I have loved as much as I did the first time, and some not so much, as I’ve changed as a reader. I am happy to say I loved this book this time around too!
I absolutely love Keiran and Gaige. They are strong individual characters, and are the perfect couple. The start as friends, but bond quickly as a couple. Some drama happens with Gaige and…. damn. It’s hard to talk about them without giving anything away about the plot! So a thing happens with Gaige, that causes Keiran and Gaige to leave, which then leads to a bad thing happening to Gaige. Which leads to some serious drama… and the book ends! Not a cliffhanger, the situation is resolved, but we know there is more coming. This is just the beginning of a long war for these people. But my point is that the two are sort of forced together and they bond faster than they probably would have if they weren’t in the middle of a war. Gaige has some serious soul searching to do, and it has to happen fast. He is a bad-ass, but really has a heart underneath, especially when it comes to children. Keiran is a strong leader, and is a bad-ass in his own way, maybe a bit more subtly than Gaige. Keiran has people that care for him, Gaige is alone and floundering, but there is the potential for some acceptance and a family for him. Anyway, I love them!
This story is set in a complex world with a basic plot. Good guys versus bad guys. There’s more to it in the details, the characters, the subplots and such, but really it’s all about good versus evil. I like that. Simple and to the point! M.L. Rhodes has built a wonderful world, with lots of details. I loved the little things, the self lubricating draegan cocks, the stone Gaige uses to contact the sorcerer, the self cleaning hidden stronghold they visit, the invisible nets in the sky that catch dragon, etc, etc. That’s what makes this an awesome book. I don’t remember the details enough to know how much has changed from the original version, and I don’t remember any issues with editing or anything from before. I do know that it all works very well now! I loved the characters and the story, the writing was fantastic, it all flowed well, the story moved at a good pace with pauses for things like baths and sex, and the ending was great. We know the story continues, but the issue at hand was resolved, and our two men are together and happy. For now…. I also loved the side characters, I did remember several of those, and I remember going forward they contribute even more to the overall story.
I am very happy I read this one after all of this time, and I can’t wait for book 2! And I really can’t wait for the new one to come!