Book Review: The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe

The Smoke Thief
Drakon #1
Author: Shana Abe
Reading Level: Adult Book
Genre: Historical Romance
Released: September 26th 2006
Review Source: Bantam

For centuries they’ve lived in secret among northern England’s green and misted hills. Creatures of extraordinary beauty, power, and sensuality, they possess the ability to shape-shift from human to dragon and back again. Now their secret—and their survival—is threatened by a temptation that will break every boundary.

Dubbed the Smoke Thief, a daring jewel thief is confounding the London police. His wealthy victims claim the master burglar can walk through walls and vanish into thin air. But Christoff, the charismatic Marquess of Langford, knows the truth: the thief is no ordinary human but a "runner" who's fled Darkfrith without permission. As Alpha leader of the drákon, it's Kit's duty to capture the fugitive before the secrets of the tribe are revealed to mortals. But not even Kit suspects that the Smoke Thief could be a woman.

Clarissa Rue Hawthorne knew her dangerous exploits would attract the attention of the drákon. But she didn't expect Christoff himself to come to London, dangling the tribe's most valuable jewel—the Langford Diamond—as bait. For as long as she could remember, Rue had lived the life of a halfling—half drákon, half mortal—and an outcast in both worlds. She'd always loved the handsome and willful Kit from the only place it was safe: from afar. But now she was no longer the shy, timid girl she'd once been. She was the first woman capable of making the Turn in four generations. So why did she still feel the same dizzying sense of vulnerability whenever he was near?

From the moment he saw her, Kit knew that the alluring and powerful beauty was every bit his Alpha equal and destined to be his bride. And by the harsh laws of the drákon, Rue knew that she was the property of the marquess. But they will risk banishment and worse for a chance at something greater. For now Rue is his prisoner, the diamond has disappeared, and she's made the kind of dangerous proposition a man like Kit cannot resist.

The author blends magic with shape-shifting seamlessly. The book takes place in London during the 1750's, written as a paranormal-fantasy historical romance. I loved the historical setting of her book and the story behind the race of drákon. The book’s back blurb doesn’t do it justice. Often the back blurbs make the book out to be more than what it is, but this one couldn’t be more understated.

Their story starts with Rue at the age of twelve, just another shy girl in their village, wishing for a golden alpha to notice her. At seventeen however, she flees to the busy city of London, as a runner she knows the drákon will hunt her down, eventually. In London she makes a name for herself, as well as an alternative identity, as a man. Rue is the only female who can turn, and she uses her gifts to steal the cities wealthiest gems; without opening any doors, or breaking into any windows. She moves silently, shifts to smoke to get in and out and if need be, she can turn into a dragon (although being so very large it hardly ever happens).

Both Rue and Kit were very well-written and their romance was believable. Many might not like the whole fated to be mates thing. Keep in mind that their romance had started almost 10 years prior, so it wasn't as if they had just met. Plus they didn't jump into bed right away, the tension was built up adequately. And the scenes where they finally gave into their urges were really hot.

Giving the drákon two forms - smoke and dragon - I thought was a really cool twist. Their smoke form is an ingenious way to camouflage, letting them escape the onlookers while they turn into dragons above the clouds.

I am keep to get my hands on book two, The Dream Thief.

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