Arthur MacArthur needs a job, and not just for the money. Before he dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university. But working for a dragon, one of the rarest and least understood magical beings, has unforeseen complications. While Arthur may be the only applicant who isn’t afraid of Philbert Jones in his dragon form, the instant attraction he feels for his new employer is beyond disconcerting.
Bertie is a brilliant historian, but he can’t find his own notes without help—his house is a hoard of books and antiques, hence the need for an assistant. Setting the mess to rights is a dream come true for Arthur, who once aspired to be an archivist. But making sense of Bertie’s interest in him is another matter. After all, dragons collect treasure, and Arthur is anything but extraordinary.
This story was sweet and engaging, but for me it missed the target in a few ways. It piqued my interest in how a dragon is a Being different from humans in emotions, desires, reactions, etc., but then left it almost unexplored. Other than the whole "treasure" trope, which was pretty one dimensional, Bertie was just another guy. I liked him - he was warm and generous and funny - but the alien being I was promised was not delivered.
The story moved too slow. It was obvious to everyone but Arthur from a few pages in where the story was going, and it took forever to get there. In between, not much happened. Days and weeks passed by, each one much like the one before. There were no real conflicts or dangers or problems to be solved. Arthur's financial problems were alluded to but they never felt pressing. He worried about his sister, but I never did. The replacement delivery man seemed a bit ominous, but really wasn't. And it all felt a bit claustrophobic, since nearly all of the action took place in a couple of rooms.
Finally, Arthur was just too much. Too perfect, too oblivious to the effect he has on Bertie, too hard working, too humble. He has a horrible crisis of conscience because he once briefly considered taking a dragon scale shed by its owner to sell. This is the kind of "flaw" that highlights the utter perfection of the character - it is like the job applicant who says his greatest flaw is that he is a perfectionist.
I did enjoy Arthur's evolving list of facts about dragons and Bertie's efforts to keep arthur warm and fed and happy. The slow burn romance really was sweet. The author did a nice job of describing the Arthur's emotions and reactions, and his surroundings. I liked the characters. It was just too little story for its length.