Author: C. Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: DSP and Amazon
Received from Publisher
Blurb: A Harmony Ink Press Title
Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.
Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.
Review: Declan de Quirke (pronounced Kirk), the son of an Irish mother and an American father who are both Ambassadors of their respective countries, is in the last year of school at Saint Joseph’s Academy in Alexandria, Virginia when he first meets the quiet and enigmatic Jean-Isidore de Sauveterre. Declan is intrigued by his softly-spoken, beautiful new deskmate. When their professor declares the school’s new policy of a buddy system means, as deskmates, they are now each other’s assigned buddy. It isn’t long before Declan’s new buddy has cause to jump to his defence when their overbearing and insensitive professor causes Declan to re-live the pain of losing his father to a car bomb in London nine months before.
Jean-Isidore has suffered years of horrible, ongoing abuse at the hands of his much larger four half-brothers, and a year enduring more abuse at the mental hospital his French ambassador father had sent him to following a suicide attempt after the death of his mother, a Spanish ambassador, in the same car bombing as Declan’s father. He lives with the fear of what his brothers will do to him next, how much pain they will inflict on him, what injuries he will be forced to bear and his father’s constant threat to send Isidore back to the hospital if he dares to raise any challenge to his father. Now he must spend time with son of the man his mother was having an affair with before they were both killed. Isidore is convinced that if Declan were to find out of their respective parents’ affair that Declan would hate him, in spite of the instant attraction between them.
When Declan overhears taunts in the showers, he discovers Isidore is the recipient and unhesitatingly steps in to protect him. From then on, the two young men quickly forge a strong relationship that turns romantic as they get to know one another and act on their initial attraction under the protective wing of Declan’s fierce and caring mother, Sorcha. Especially once they realise the home life Isidore has been subjected to. They will stop at nothing to make sure Isidore is safe and knows he is loved.
The first half of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is devoted to Declan and Isidore’s growing love and blossoming confidence Isidore gains with the support and security Declan and Sorcha provide. The introduction of the MCs was great. Their personalities were well defined early on and I was completely captivated by both of them. I did find that the constant back and forth between the POV of Declan and that of Isidore was a bit jarring and interrupted the flow of the story for me. Having said that, I either got used to it or it became less pronounced, because it seemed to be less of a distraction further into the story.
The action that becomes the focus of the second half of the book is skilfully foreshadowed in the strong opening of the prologue. Once the mystery/action element really kicked into high gear, the pacing kept things moving and interesting without overwhelming me. The occasional recaps in the midst of everything that was going on were done with skill and felt completely organic. They were also much appreciated for keeping all the events in order and fresh in my mind. The court scenes toward the end were riveting from start to finish and exceptionally well written.
I found that the assertion of Mason, the son of the Headmaster, that his father would be unaccepting of him, to be at odds with what had previously been shown of the character of the headmaster, especially in his dealings with Declan and Isidore. The teen speak made it a little hard to connect with the narrative at times – I really don’t get the American teen slang of dumb ill (and also, get off my lawn! Young people these days…), but then again, as a person in their forties (gasp) I’m not exactly the target demographic! The characters of Jessica and the Comtesse were very two dimensional, like cardboard cut-out villains (as opposed to the other characters, whom were all quite complex). Declan took me a little while to warm to. I think that was mainly because of the way he thought of and treated Jessica, a girl who was admittedly very persistent in her pursuit of his affections, but that aside I did end up finding him very sweet and quickly grew to like him. Isidore was delightful. The strength he showed as a survivor and the growth he showed once he was out of that abusive environment was inspiring and beautifully portrayed. I also loved Caleb, a school friend of Declan, and would happily read more about him.
Although I had a few niggles, overall I found Slaying Isidore’s Dragons to be a great read. There are some truly beautiful and powerful words in this book. While the darker theme of ongoing and extreme abuse was prominent, it was also full of action, humour, love and, most of all, hope for young victims of abuse reading the story.
PS Reading the Author’s Note at the end is well worth your time.