*This book was assigned to me for phase 1 of SPFBO 8*
A Matter of Dragons was a fun, sexy romp, with engaging characters. What it lacked in storyline it made up for with pace, good writing, and a build up to a (somewhat) predictable ending.
It follows the story of Rayne - a female trying to survive in a male-dominated society. She was taken in as an orphan by the king's household in Valgros, a kingdom that has stamped out all magic and cut itself off from the rest of the world. The king has convinced his citizens that those who have magic are evil and uncultured ruffians, while those in his domain are straight-laced and must help the rest of the world rid itself of magic users. It had the distinct feel of a colonialist society - this idea of the "white" savior who will bring order and instill a genteel way of life, certainly not taking into account whether other cultures want this or not. Although it's not packaged as "white savior", the similarities were obvious. It made me want to wring the king's neck. Rayne has been brainwashed to believe this narrative, and she and a friend of hers are sent to Cairncliff, a town outside Valgros's domain, to kill a dragon that is supposedly rampaging the town, and to spread the word of the king's good graces and superior way of life.
Then there is Doshir, a shapeshifting dragon who has escaped to Cairncliff to avoid the politicking and rigid rules of dragon society. His mother interrupts his slightly boring life as a shopkeeper to inform him that Mad Scarlet, another dragon, has come to Cairncliff seeking her stolen daughter. Doshir doesn't want to get involved. But of course, as stories go, the poor man is sucked into it by the scruff of his neck. When Rayne and Doshir meet, there are of course sparks and smoldering looks. Rayne wants to use him to learn more about this magical society, and dragons in particular, and it doesn't hurt that he's smoking hot. Little does she know who Doshir really is. Doshir, on the other hand, is captivated by Rayne and invites her out for wine. A good 30% of the beginning of the story focuses on their relationship and eventual - ahem ahem ahem - consummation of the relationship.
Then everything goes wrong. Everything Rayne thought to be true about Doshir, her mission, and her worldview goes up in flames. There is a big reveal that, unfortunately, could be seen coming from a mile away. However, although it was predictable, this story was engaging. The writing was fluid, with a good mixture of exposition and dialogue, with very few grammatical errors. It was a quick read, so I feel that some worldbuilding was sacrificed, and the vast majority of the story takes place in Cairncliff, so you don't get a very good sense of the world as a whole.
All in all, it was enjoyable, and I will probably continue reading the series. Kudos to the author, since I'm generally not a fan of shapeshifting stories, but this one had me hooked. If you're looking for a quick, fun, steamy tale, this one is for you.