Trial by Fire (Going Down in Flames, Book 3) by Chris Cannon
**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**
4 ½ stars
Red-blue hybrid dragon shifter Bryn McKenna has just started appreciating her grandparent’s affections, as bizarre as they are in the socially awkward world of the dragon community she lives in. Being a hybrid had at one time made Bryn an outcast, and while there are still those that don’t like her being accepted into their hierarchy, as a socially-superior blue dragon (as her mother’s parents are blue’s as well), she finally is finding a place for herself. The only problem is that her dragon only school and community are continuing to take attacks from an unknown source – one that is wounding or killing many members. But with her gallant (and handsome) knight Valmont by her side, what could really happen?
When Bryn’s grandmother insists that she move into the blue dorms so she can hopefully be more socially accepted (and kept safer and more secure), she reluctantly agrees – especially when she finds out that her once enemy Rhianna will be her new roommate – not that Jaxon, the son of the Directorate’s head approves of his girlfriend living with the likes of Bryn. But he’s just bitter seeing as if the Directorate had its way, he would be marrying Bryn and not Rhianna, due to her sever injury during one of the attacks that left her crippled. Not that Bryn is excited about the idea either – she’d much rather explore the idea of being with Valmont. So when Bryn and Rhianna’s apartment is broken into and ransacked, Bryn’s grandmother tasks Valmont with being by Bryn’s side 24 hours a day – and staying with her even overnight – as it means keeping her safe. But when Bryn still can’t help but stir up mischief, and her and Valmont find something so huge it could blow the lid on the Directorate’s whole governing, it then becomes a race of who can save Bryn from the Directorate’s whims – what will they do to keep Bryn quite?
While there was much more “romance” than fighting in this book, I still really enjoyed seeing Bryn grown and start figuring out where she stands within the dragon community – even if it means rocking a few boats along the way. Valmont’s devotion to her is so sweet and enduring, that I truly hope they are given a chance in the continuation of their story – even Jaxon deserves to be with the one he loves, even if he is a pompous jerk half the time. Bottom line, if you loved the action and not the romance Ms. Cannon’s series has see-sawed on throughout the 3 books, you may feel a bit of a letdown – but if you are anything like me, you know that an epic battle is just hanging on the precipice, ready to let loose in the next book. It’s an inevitability that the other hybrids will not rest until the Directorate takes them serious – and that in itself is what I am truly excited about! Seeing that final battle will undoubtedly be epic and not soon forgotten!
Excerpt, provided by the author:
“As the week went on, Bryn watched for any sign one of her classmates might be a hybrid but never noticed anything. The other students on campus adjusted to their injured friends’ presence. Everyone except, of course, the Blue Clan. Saturday afternoon, Bryn asked Rhianna to accompany her to Dragon’s Bluff where she planned to meet her grandmother for lunch. “No, thank you. I’m tired of dealing with everyone. I want to hide out here for a while.” “I know what it’s like to have everyone staring at you and making you crazy, but are you sure you want to be alone? Fonzoli’s reopened. Valmont saved us a table.” Rhianna shook her head. “You go ahead. Have fun.” She thought about flying to Dragon’s Bluff, but her grandmother had already planned to pick her up. When the car arrived, her grandmother wasn’t in it. “Am I having lunch by myself?” Bryn asked the driver. “Your grandmother left for Dragon’s Bluff early this morning to oversee some of the details on the rebuilding. She’ll meet you at the restaurant.” “Oh, okay.” If her grandmother was in charge of the recovery efforts in Dragon’s Bluff, the place would be back to normal in no time.
On the drive through campus toward the back gate, Bryn people-watched, or rather dragon-watched. Ugh. Would she ever stop thinking of herself as a human? Probably not. Students congregated at the new picnic shelters that had been installed around campus since so many of the trees had been demolished during the attacks last semester. Granite tables and benches sat underneath the shelters, which had decorative copper roofs. The official story claimed they were meant to provide shade. Of course, they would also provide protection from most aerial attacks. Not that the Directorate mentioned that part. Did they think the students wouldn’t figure it out, or were they supposed to be polite or obedient enough not to say anything? Too bad for them she was short on both counts.
When they reached the back gate leading off campus, there was another change. The guard post where students had to sign in and out had transformed into what looked like a military bunker, complete with a dozen guards, camera surveillance, and an observation deck with something that looked suspiciously like a gun turret on top. Rather than a gun, there was something that resembled a cannon with a javelin sticking out of the barrel. “What’s that thing on top there?” Bryn asked as the car stopped at the gate and a guard approached the vehicle. The driver ignored her question in favor of rolling down the window.
“State your business,” the guard said. “I’m transporting Bryn McKenna to Dragon’s Bluff to meet her grandmother for lunch.” The guard checked an electronic tablet he held in his hand. “I don’t see your authorization permit.” “Last minute change of plans,” the driver said. “I’ll need to see your ID.” The driver pulled a badge from his pocket and flashed it at the guard. “We shouldn’t keep Mrs. Sinclair waiting.” Unmoved by this statement, the guard tapped away on the tablet. “Miss McKenna, I’ll need to see your ID as well.” That was going to be a problem. “I didn’t bring any ID with me.” Since her grandmother was paying for lunch, she hadn’t even grabbed her wallet. The guard frowned. “Please step out of the vehicle. I can scan you and check it against the photo ID online.” That was new. Bryn tugged on the door handle, but it didn’t open. “The child safety locks must be on. Can you let me out?”
“Sure.” The driver leaned away from the window, where the buttons to release the locks would be, and reached toward the passenger seat. An uneasy feeling grew in Bryn’s stomach. Something about this wasn’t right. “Miss McKenna, exit the vehicle. Now.” The guard drew a gun and aimed it at the driver.