Burning Now - AR Moler

Reviewed by Barb 

Mystery, intrigue, a new twist on shifters , and two hot guys— both literally and figuratively.   Gideon is a firefighter and Vanya is a firebird, a phoenix shifter. 

When Gideon Sato finds a naked man buried beneath the rubble of a warehouse fire, little did he know that his life was about to change.   The man, Vanya Stravinsky, was injured when mugged after leaving his job at a Russian restaurant the previous evening.  He struggles to recall the circumstances surrounding his appearance at the warehouse, but he’s strangely calmed by Gideon’s presence and the touch of Gideon’s hands. 

Vanya finally realizes that he apparently shifted to a phoenix, a “zhar-ptitsa”, after he was mugged and abandoned in the sub-freezing temperatures of Minneapolis.  His instinct must have caused him to shift and seek the warmth of the warehouse fire, where instead of being burned, he found comfort.  Gideon seeks Vanya out several days later and the two begin to acknowledge their mutual attraction.  Vanya realizes that the warmth and tingling he feels when Gideon is near is “priznanye”, a bond that grows stronger as two people spend more time together.  It will eventually lead to a strong mating bond if they continue to be in each other’s company.  In a misguided effort to be completely honest with Gideon, Vanya shifts into his bird form without preparing him in advance.  When Gideon storms out of Vanya’s apartment in reaction, Vanya assumes they’ll never see each other again.   

There is a nice mystery theme underlying this romance, and the two men do get together again while Vanya tries to find out what really happened with the warehose fire. The police consider him an arson suspect, and he finds that he and Gideon are the only ones interested in clearing his name.  There’s more action and intrigue, another fire, and another close call for Vanya as they try to solve the crime.

I really enjoyed this adventure and the mystery itself.  The match of the fireman with the bird-shifter who seeks fire and heat for warmth was quirky but worked really well here.  The dynamic between the two men was sweet and, though the story was short, it was quite complex.   I wouldn’t mind reading more stories set in this shifter world. 

I recommend this to all who would like to explore a shifter romance that doesn’t involve wolves, and to those who like some mystery underlying their romance reads.   This story is a very nice way to spend a rainy (or snowy) afternoon.