Gabe Dominguez is a bounty hunter who has been hired to capture and deliver firestarter, Nat Wyatt, to a client. A chance meeting means catching Nat is pretty easy, but Gabe still has to get the man across Canada to a meet up with Gabe’s boss, Duke.
From the start, Nat claims he is innocent of starting the fires that destroyed buildings and left people dead. Nat has been arrested for the crimes, but never convicted of anything and this is where Gabe and Duke’s services come in. When Nat learns that Gabe is also the Judge, a dragon shifter who destroyed half of Canada seeking vengeance for his dead lover, Nat hopes that he might ultimately convince Gabe of his innocence.
As the two travel across the country, they face fairies after Nat’s delicious elemental blood, a motorcycle-riding gargoyle, a raging forest fire, and more. By the time they are approaching the meet up, the guys have become friends, trusting one another with stories from their pasts and learning to rely on each other to get out of their never ending dangerous situations. Now Nat must hope that he has convinced Gabe of his innocence, and Gabe must decide whether to trust Nat and believe that there is a chance for a future between them.
Never Lose Your Flames is a really well developed paranormal/urban fantasy story with some great world building. Gideon introduces us to a host of magical creatures in a world much like our own, but filled with supernaturals. We get some really detailed lore about dragons and elementals through Gabe and Nat, but also learn bits about witches and vampires and other creatures that exist alongside humans. I think this part of the story is particularly well done and Gideon has some unique takes on the magical creatures that really bring the book to life.
I love a good road trip story (check out my road trip favorites list for more), so I enjoyed that aspect of the story as well. The guys go from enemies (or at least captive and captor), to friends, to more over the course of their travels across the country. Along the way they share their stories and learn to trust one another and open up about their real selves. They have adventures and run into danger and along the way they slowly develop a bond between them. I think this part of the story does run a little long, as most of the book is taken up with the journey and then the resolution happens fairly fast. But overall I thought this aspect of the book is well done as well.
Along the trip, we are introduced to lots of side characters, and again, Gideon develops them well. Given the focus on the road trip, I think these side connections help to broaden the story beyond just Gabe and Nat. While I liked these folks, I do think at times we focus a little too much on the side characters, especially given the length of the book. We get very detailed backstories on most of them, not all of which I think are necessary. I also think these folks come in pretty handy with someone always around to bail Gabe out of a sticky situation. It felt a little overly convenient at times — need a doctor, or a new car, or a critical herb, there is someone there. But overall, I found these characters rounded out the story nicely.
We get a few loose ends here, again relating the numerous side folks we meet or learn about. Gabe clearly has a story relating to his relationship with his mother and it is mentioned several times, but we never hear it, which seemed like a dropped thread. Also, at one point the guys rescue some kids and they tell the men about another child who wandered off a few days before. It is mentioned at least twice and I assumed it would come back to relate to the story, but again it is dropped. There is also a whole plot thread about a missing friend of Nat’s that gets resolved, but I’m not sure I fully understood how much it added in a story that’s already pretty long.
Overall though, I found this one an engaging story and a nice supernatural tale. Gideon does a great job with the world building and gives us two really nicely developed characters in Gabe and Nat. Their romance blooms slowly as things don’t really move forward between them until after Gabe is assured of Nat’s innocence. But they are both really engaging and have complex but not complicated backstories that really make them come to life. So I definitely liked this one, and found it a well drawn paranormal with nice world building and well developed characters.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.