Playing with Fire (Katie MacAlister)

Playing with Fire is the first novel of the Silver Dragons Series (which is in turn a spin-off from the Aisling Grey Series) by Katie MacAlister.
Finished on: 14.7.2016

May is a doppelganger, an identical copy of the naiad Cyrene, made by the demon lord Magoth, to whom May is bound. Being a doppelganger comes with certain perks, like the ability to shadow, disappearing from prying eyes, that makes May the perfect thief for Magoth’s purposes. But then one of her jobs leads her to Gabriel Tauhou, the head of the Silver Dragons. And it turns out that May is a dragon’s mate and Gabriel is really very attractive. But the Silver Dragons are at war with the Black Dragons and then Magoth orders May to steal from the dragons and Cyrene is constantly getting into trouble, making May’s life a complete mess.

I’m not exactly sure why I even finished Playing with Fire. It was such an annoying book that I wanted to yell at it more than once. I definitely won’t be continuing with the series.


A few years ago, I read A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by MacAlister and loved it. Then I read its sequel and didn’t love it at all. So when I stumbled upon Playing with Fire, I figured that maybe another series of hers would convince me.

Unfortunately I didn’t realize at first that Playing with Fire might be the first novel in Silver Dragons Series, but that itself is a spin-off series [note to publishers: PLEASE PUT INFORMATION LIKE THAT IN THE FUCKING BOOK]. It became obvious, though, when I started reading the novel. Not only were there many wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments when it came to Aisling and Drake (the protagonists of the original series), but more damningly a whole lot was incredibly confusing to me because I would have simply needed more information about the dragons and their world to understand what’s happening. That information was not given clearly or at wrong moments, so that I’m still not sure what is actually going on there. But I won’t be finding that out by reading more.

The novel also wasn’t helped by the fact that I’m simply not a fan of [covers the ears of the psy-changeling books] the whole mating trope in paranormal romance. I get that it’s nice to know for damn sure, on a biological level, that your partner is destined to be yours forever. But I prefer the idea of choice [choice is important, without choice no real consent] and deciding again and again to be with and love your partner. (It’s also less heteronormative and monogamist that way.)

In any case, Playing with Fire is a weirdly dialled-down version of the mating trope, that makes it actually more icky. May is a dragon’s mate, meaning that she has the ability to withstand dragon fire that will spill out of dragons when they’re aroused (thank you for that storyline that basically means that dragons will hurt some women, even kill them, but when the right woman comes along, she won’t get hurt by them, she’ll love it instead). But she could be any dragon’s mate, it is not limited specifically to Gabriel. But since dragon mates are rare indeed, Gabriel tells her that she better become his mate or all of the single dragons will be after her and force her to be their mate. Nobody bothers to explain to May (or the reader) what said mating actually entails – apart from sex, of course – and nobody comments on the possibility that May might not be into Gabriel but another dragon, or the fact that what Gabriel basically says “you better fuck me, or all those guys will hunt you down and rape you, your choice.” Romance. Also, Gabriel has the hots so much for her, that he can’t hold himself back while they’re having sex and constantly apologizes to her because he simply couldn’t do foreplay, he just wanted her too much. But one of these days, he’s going to make sure they have it. *heart eyes* Your hero, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course, May is all for it, Gabriel is a hot piece of ass (actually a nice touch: Gabriel is one of very few non-white romance protagonists, although his aboriginal roots grant him even more magical powers than being a dragon, which… meh), being with him feels right, and May – who so far thought of herself or at least presented as pretty much asexual – is into sex after all, so rejoice. And that pesky plot and drama that goes on around her certainly won’t keep her from fucking Gabriel at every more or less opportune moment. Like when she’s out looking for her missing twin, following a time-sensitive trail. Yolo!

All of that meant I was just way too annoyed to enjoy even the slightest bit about this book. I still don’t know why I finished it. Probably simply because it was there.

Summarizing: Skip it. Best over a body of water.

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