The Boss is the first story in Abigail Owen’s dragon shifter series, Fire’s Edge. It’s a smart and sexy story about Finn Conleth, leader of several dragon shifters from different European clans who’ve relocated to America. His mixed clan uses the cover of being smoke jumpers/wildfire firefighters to practice their fire-making skills in the immense California forests. They are responsible, putting out any fires they start and working with local fire authorities (who are unaware of their shifter nature) to combat any wildfires that threaten the population. Finn encounters a young woman, Delaney Hamilton, who is on the run from a stalker but also from a frightening experience that keeps happening to her: she finds herself blacking out and waking up in the middle of a fire. She’s managed to escape every time, but the more often it happens, the more she wonders if she is somehow responsible. Lucky for her, Finn might be the one man who can find out the answers and save her life.
I really enjoyed this unique story and found the plot device of having dragon shifters act as firefighters in their human form to be an excellent way to explain their presence. There’s some good worldbuilding, too, explaining the dragon shifter origins and how the clans work, as well as the mating rules. In this story, female mates are humans who have dragon shifter abilities though they don’t come out until they are exposed to a dragon shifter male. If a mistake is made and the wrong mate is chosen, the human female will be incinerated so there is no room for error. Finn already lost one woman that way, so he’s very leery of getting involved again, even though he is drawn to Delaney from the moment they meet.
Delaney has nothing to lose by confiding her crazy experiences to Finn since he’s the one who rescues her from the fire at her friend’s winery, her most recent hiding place. She knows her story sounds insane and that someone might think that she is an arsonist based on her proximity to recent unexplainable fires. When Finn finds out about Delaney’s stalker, he becomes protective; and keeping her in close proximity also means she’s bound to find out about the true nature of Finn and his crew. It turns out that the stalker after her has a specific agenda and there are some suspenseful, action filled scenes as the story plays out.
Not to be outdone by the rest of the story, the romance between Finn and Delaney is pretty steamy! There’s an element of mutual exhibitionism kink that heats things up as they fall for each other. Finn can have sex with a woman without mating with her, but the more he finds out about Delaney and she about him, the more difficult he finds it to keep her (figuratively if not literally) at arm’s length. There’s an exciting conclusion to the novel, and while this couple gets their happy ending, there’s a hint of more trouble to come to entice readers to pick up the next in series. The Boss is a fiery (in more ways than one), action packed, sometimes suspenseful and thoroughly entertaining paranormal romance.