While many fantasy books focus on mystical characters and world-building to drive the plot forward, there are some very talented writers who are able to also include romance within a fantasy narrative to make it even more compelling, and one of these writers is Thea Harrison.
In Dragon Bound, the first book in Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series of books, she manages to perfectly weave romance into her fantasy novel centered around half-human and half-Wyr Pia who ends up being blackmailed into stealing a precious coin from Dragos Cuelebre, an incredibly powerful and influential dragon.
What ensues is a romantic story with themes of power, authority, maturity, and self-realization in a mystical world full of unique and quirky characters and locations that makes this book so hard to put down.
While the fantasy genre is certainly saturated with hundreds of thousands of books and book series all with their own unique stories and worlds, if it’s specifically the romantic side of fantasy that most intrigued you to read Dragon Bound, there are a handful of authors who do it just as well while also putting their own literary flare onto the story and writing.
So if you’ve never heard of the likes of A.J. Vrana or Mary Pearson, their books are perfect to jump into after finishing Dragon Bound.
Themes Of Dragon Bound
Power And Relationships
Rather than the main character Pia Giovanni and the all-powerful Dragos falling in love on equal terms, Dragos is portrayed as a much more powerful, and incredibly intimidating figure who at first wants to take Pia as his slave, something she adamantly objects to.
As the plot progresses and Pia starts to fall for Dragos, and as he starts to let his guard down around her, we witness a story where the concept of power constantly gets in the way of the relationship as the two try to come together despite Dragos being so influential and feared.
Pia Giovanni isn’t exactly a squeaky-clean protagonist, in fact, she has plenty of secrets of her own, secrets she may not even be completely aware of yet.
Despite living a sheltered life with limited exposure to magic or creatures from the outside world, after meeting Dragos, she very quickly learns to hold her own in combat, along with being able to negotiate with the Fae, raising suspicions of her origins and backstory.
Dragos on the other hand tries to come to accept his inner aggression and passion while acknowledging the many missteps he makes in order to dedicate his mind, body, and soul to Pia as the two learn to accept who they are throughout the story, faults and all.
When Pia and Dragos first meet and their relationship begins, rather than respecting each other, they both are simply seeking something from the other.
While Pia is obsessed with Dragos, and dreams of all the things she can do to him, Dragos simply wants to make Pia his slave, however, the two come to realize that their personal feelings for each other are the reason they are connected, rather than simply wanting to use one another for selfish gain.
Books Like Dragon Bound
The Hollow Gods By A.J Vrana
As the first installment in A.J Vrana’s Chaos Cycle Duology, The Hollow Gods is the perfect jumping-in point to Vrana’s incredible catalog of work, especially since this story is incredibly similar to Dragon Bound, with the biggest difference being that it’s a little more grounded.
The story follows Kai, a Dreamwalker who has been rumored in folklore to lure young women into the woods before possessing them, and when he wakes up next to the lifeless body of a girl who has been missing for several weeks, he struggles to piece his memory together.
Meanwhile, Mia, the first victim of Kai’s to actually wake up, decides if she can trust this deceptive, alluring, and very charming man of her dreams.
If you like the power dynamic between the two love interests in Dragon Bound, but maybe want the world itself to be a little more realistic and relatable, The Hollow Gods is the perfect story to get stuck into, especially since this is just the first book in an incredibly well-written series.
- Believable romance between two main characters that builds gradually
- Great sub-plots to keep the narrative interesting
- Grounded and more realistic setting
- Writing is easy to understand and pacing is excellent
- Fantasy elements can be absent for large sections of the story
Themes: Power, isolation, loneliness, acceptance, taboo love
Dance Of Thieves By Mary E. Pearson
Unexpected romance is always a great way to keep readers guessing as to how the story is going to unfold, and this works incredibly well in fictional settings where the characters can experience the wonderful world around them together while learning more about one another and their true feelings in the process.
If you loved the world-building in Dragon Bound, you need to read Dance of Thieves which follows Jase, the young leader of the crumbling Ballenger empire who has a fateful encounter with a young queen who aims to usher in a new era into the world, making her the number 1 target of the Ballenger empire and the allied kingdoms.
Both Jase and the young queen play a fierce cat-and-mouse game throughout the story that is full of mystery, crime, and scandals to ensure the plot never gets too predictable.
And as the two encounter each other more often, they come to understand their visions for the future and acknowledge the underlying feelings that are growing between them.
If you’re really into medieval-style fantasy but still want a book that highlights a blooming romance between two people who should be sworn enemies, as seen in Dragon Bound, Dance of Thieves is one of Mary Pearson’s best works that you need to check out.
- Compelling and wonderful medieval-fantasy setting
- Plenty of plot twists and betrayals to keep the story interesting
- Meaningful interactions between the two love interests
- Good amount of action and deaths make the direction of the story very unpredictable
- Ending leaves a few loose ends that are never cleared up
- Fairly weak secondary characters who don’t get much development
Themes: War, dreams, responsibility, commitment, acceptance
Shadow Of The Fox By Julie Kagawa
A major theme in Dragon Bound is acceptance, and more specifically, coming to accept who you are as a person, where your values lie, and how much of that you’re willing to tell another person who you have romantic feelings for.
Shadow of the Fox is another fantastic story that uses this theme within its narrative, following Yumeko, a young girl who feels like an outcast because of her half-kitsune and half-human heritage, very similar to Pia in Dragon Bound.
Unlike Pia however, Yumeko is out for revenge after her home is burned to the ground and her family slain, with the only remnant of the fire she could retrieve being one part of the ancient scroll, something many assassins around the land have been eager to get their hands on, including the relentless and persuasive Kage Tatsumi.
As the two come together and form a begrudging relationship to find the other part of the scroll, what ensues is a story centered around two characters reluctantly opening up to one another about their flaws, secrets, and missteps as they find comfort in one another amidst a war-torn world.
- Romance still plays a huge part despite being a revenge story (If you love the romance genre, check out Books Like Shameless)
- Great mix of intensity, humor, and intimate scenes that never feel forced or out of place
- Intriguing feudal-Japan-themed fantasy world
- Thought-provoking themes of honesty and forgiveness in relationships
- Not much buildup to the romance itself
Themes: Hope, revenge, idealization, war, honesty
If you enjoyed the fantastical and romantic story of Dragon Bound and want to jump right into stories with similar styles and themes that are just as enjoyable, you won’t want to miss out on some of these compelling love stories all with their own unique spins on the classic tale told by Thea Harrison.
Whether you’re after a story with a world that’s a little closer to our own, or you want even more fantasy elements to surround the romance between the characters, you can be sure each of these books will have you compelled from beginning to end.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Books Are In The Elder Races Series?
There are currently 24 books in Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series with the first being Dragon Bound released in 2011 and the final installment being The Adversary released in 2021.
The Adversary was Harrison’s explosive conclusion to the long-running story, so it’s very doubtful that there are any plans to write a sequel, despite how beloved this series has become.
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