Author: Francis Gideon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Cop-turned-bounty-hunter Gabe Dominguez is hired to capture firestarter Nat Wyatt. For a dragon-shifter like Gabe, apprehending Nat is easy, but transporting him involves more time, energy, and blood loss than he envisioned. An attack from a band of fairies, an out-of-control forest fire, and a showdown at an auction don’t faze Gabe, but Nat’s innocence might stop him entirely.
Since discovering his abilities, Nat’s lost a best friend, a boyfriend, and trust in his brother. Only his love of concerts and card games get him through life without a home. Rumors of the Judge, a giant dragon who once destroyed half of Canada avenging those he loved, provide Nat with hope of vindication. When Nat discovers his captor is the Judge, he thinks he’s finally caught a break. Through late-night conversations and a shared love of music, Nat tries to convince Gabe he’s not guilty.
Can Gabe continue his cutthroat lifestyle, or will he run away with his dragon hoard like he’s always longed to do? Can Nat escape his legacy, or will his be another spark snuffed out by people who don’t understand? The Oracle, the most powerful wizard in Canada, might be the only one who can provide answers.
Review: Gabe is a stubborn dragon shifter and an ex cop with a tragic past. Now he’s a bounty hunter hunting down people for a guy Gabe suspects is a kingpin. But he gave Gabe a new start to he overlooks that possible shady detail. He’s tasked with collecting a fire starter who is known to make the house party circuit. It just happens to be the guy he’s lusting over. He catches him relatively easy and sets across Canada to deliver him to his boss and the client. Nat the fire elemental has been on the run since he was young. In and out of custody for fires he swears he didn’t start. The evidence Gabe is given says the opposite however so Gabe ignores the claim. Gabe soon learns just how special Nat is. His blood calls to supernatural creatures which brings them all sorts of trouble. Luckily Gabe has some very powerful and loyal friends to help them out.
I really liked parts of this book. Other parts left me wondering if I’d missed something. I often found Gabe lacking a valid reason for his actions. He has a dark past he does everything in his power to avoid dealing with. He’s lost himself. Gabe’s manufactured image of being the Judge just didn’t resonate with me. Either did the Oracle bit. I understand he’s hiding from his past but to think he went from good guy busting bad guys to working for the bad guys is a bit much. Especially considering some of the friends Gabe has. You get the sense he was wallowing in self pity. At a low point he got himself into this line of work and let himself be kept in it as because he thinks he owes his boss. None of this really clicked for me. Or not on level I felt the story relies on it to. Gabe’s not happy. He is fairly moody and somewhat cruel to Nat for a portion of this book. I’m sure he has criminals claim innocence all the time but there’s obviously more to Nat’s story than his employer told him. Gabe just doesn’t want to face the reality he’s put himself in. Eventually Gabe pulls his head out and starts to realize he’s delivering a good man to some potentially bad people.
Now I loved Nat. How anyone could believe he’s evil is beyond me. I found his story totally compelling. He’s constantly hunted. He was abused for years. Letting people into his life seems to get them hurt. Nat accepts all of this and looks for whatever happiness he can find. Sadly he accepts the inevitability of his capture. Gabe shows him moments of kindness. The attraction has always been there but on the road they get to know each other. Feelings develop. I was cheering for the couple but mostly because Nat deserves some happiness. Gabe just needed to take control of his life again. Parts of this story were very sweet.
My favorite part of this book is all the friends. Powerful witches and highly connected social workers. Then the lady sniper who can make anything happen. The cast of secondary characters was fun. The baddies were pretty obvious and frankly the ending was a let down. There also seemed to be lore just thrown out there that didn’t really fit in anywhere. Same as the singing and bands? I couldn’t help but wonder why that was a inserted at times. I did like this story but I think it could have benefited from some editing. Just too many lulled moments that left me wondering why I needed to know that blip of information. If you can just roll all of that I did like the characters for the most part and their journey to gain their freedom back. The supernatural touches were a bonus with some interesting world building.