Fireworks and Stolen Kisses Book Cover Fireworks and Stolen Kisses
Lijun Book 1
Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay
M/M Paranormal/Shifter Mystery
Pride Publishing
June 26, 2018

No. Eating. Pixies.

At the annual Global Lijun Alliance conference in Tokyo, Tally Bastille makes the first impulsive decision of his life. Others perceive his uktena—the enormous legendary serpent that’s his dual-spirit—as a threat, which makes him all too aware that he frightens fellow lijun. But an encounter with a passionate, obviously not-straight otter lijun one evening convinces Tally that he’s found his Em’halafi, his destined match. Tally is determined to barrel through all obstacles to make the match happen, including the otter’s conservative, traditional family.

Trained as a Satislit—a bride-son—Haru Tanaka chafes at the strict boundaries set around their life. They rebel against their clan’s constant attempts to force an arranged match and wish desperately for someone who will love them. At the conference, Haru is horrified to learn their family has accepted an offer for them, one too lucrative for the clan to refuse. Not only has the Urusar sold Haru to a stranger, but the lijun is also a giant snake and one who believes in the tired old superstitions regarding Em’halafi. Threatened with banishment if they refuse, Haru has no choice but to marry the wealthy American serpent.

Back in Tally’s home in Wisconsin, Haru and Tally must navigate both the widening gulf between them as they realize how much they’ve misunderstood about each other, and the tricky politics of the lijun clan Tally leads. Murder, intrigue and increasing hostility threaten to tear apart the little town of Wadiswan and the arranged marriage they’ve barely managed to begin.

Reviewed by Melissa Brus

Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team

Finding your destined mate can be an overwhelming experience.  Add in cultural miscommunications, vastly different expectations, and a murder or two, and life becomes, well, worthy of a book!  When Tally Bastille attends a business conference in Japan, the last thing he expected was to find his other half.  So when he sees the amazing person in rainbow suspenders leading the children of the conference on an adventure, he is immediately spurred into action to make his future happen as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, not only does Haru Tanaka not believe in fated mates, but thanks to that last bottle of sake, does not remember meeting Tally much at all.  Tally’s persisitence does lead to them moving forward in a marriage.  The miscommunications between their cultural expectations causes so many issues it is truly heart breaking.  Not only do we have issues from differences in Japanese vs. American attitudes and behaviors, but then traditions from their Native American and Japanese families are not always easily blended.  And if that is not enough, their animal halves are vastly different as well.  This last, their animal half, is what becomes a much bigger issue as the murder count begins to grow in the small town in Wisconsin where our couple is beginning their married life.

Martinez and McKay take on a lot in this novel.  They introduce these characters and their respective cultures seamlessly.  Haru is also agender and that adds another element to the interactions with them and others in this story.  This is a great introduction into these characters.  Their journey is not an easy one.  I was in tears, or close to it, for much of the book.  It is not a simple read.  The prevalence of both Japanese and Native American terms can make it difficult to follow at times.  But it is so worth it to push through those moments. At the end of this story, my only disappointment was that I really wanted the next one to know what happens to Tally and Haru.  I really want them to get their happily ever after.