Blurb: Najlah is on the hunt for the traitorous coward who attempted to assassinate the king and nearly killed Najlah’s brother in the process. But the hunt has taken his team deep into the Shide, the treacherous, freezing mountains controlled by the mysterious Lukos, feral wolf shifters who do not tolerate trespassers.
When the Lukos come upon them, Najlah is reluctantly intrigued. The Lukos, especially the one called Barkus, are nothing like the soft humans he spends most of his time around. They thrive in the brutal cold the way he thrives in volcanic fire. For the first time, it feels like Najlah may have found someone who can equal the fierceness of dragons, and see them as more than demons.
But if he hopes to explore the bond forming with the Lukos, he must first survive the enemy—and the Shide.
Review: I do so love it when Megan Derr writes dragons in her stories. This short story, previously published in the anthology Dracones, is no exception. Najlah is a dragon you just can’t help but like, even if he has an odd view of the world around him and the people in it (mainly he thinks he should eat everything that doesn’t agree with him and people are stupid). And he is always cold, so he sleeps in the fire, instead of by the fire.
For a short story, a lot happens and in true Megan Derr style, some things are left unsaid and open, but it suits the story. There is a balance between the plot angle to find the traitor and the mystery that ensues and Najlah and Barkus courting each other. A lot more could be said about the mystery angle, but there is no gaping open end. The ending leaves open the possibility for more stories, or not.
As with all Megan Derr stories, Lukos Heat is well written, story wise. There is room for editing improvements. However, you can’t just help but like the characters, they make the story. As said, Najlah is an odd one. He likes to eat his enemies and pretends to hate the world around him when in truth he’s just a big softy. He is all dragon. Even in a more humanoid form he has fangs and doesn’t speak a human language. No, before you ask, there is no bestiality there, but Najlah and his brother are more dragon than human at all times. It was intriguing to read about their culture and their harsh but fair way of living. Did I mention it is a matriarchal culture?
Barkus is also very much wolf, but more human than Najlah. They form a bond which allows them to ‘talk’ to each other and it is fun to see Barkus deciphering Najlah. I did think Barkus deserved a much cooler name than Barkus! He’s all rough and tough, but he too is just a big furry softie. He and Najlah are perfect for each other! Ha, both their species are supposedly the scary ones in the world. They may be wild and untamed, but boy are they cute together (ssst, don’t let them hear that!).
Why you should read this book: Lukos Heat is a fun, cute fantasy story with not so typical shifters and a surprisingly well written plot for a short story. It may just surprise you yet, so go get it!