I'm not going to lie. The main draw for me to want to read Open Flame was the cover. I love the intensity, and was hopeful that the story would match the cover. Does it? While I enjoyed it quite a bit, the short length meant little character development and uneven pacing at times. Still, this is a fun read, and I'd read more in the series without a second thought.
Madoc and his brothers are cursed. They are dragons, trapped in the forms of men. Each has control over an element, and Madoc's is fire. Fire is fickle, though, and his control is imperfect. He can also stop time briefly, a power he is more comfortable with. He and his brothers believe that until they each find their fated mate, they will remain cursed. Finding their mate involves biting them and drinking their blood, and if the woman they bite isn't destined to be them, she dies. After losing women they loved because they didn't survive the bite, Madoc is determined to create a clock that allows them to go back in time, so that if they bite a woman and she dies, they can rewind time just enough to go back and not bite them, thus saving their lives.
Madoc has only bitten once, and he is so afraid of killing again that he hasn't bitten since. but after meeting Fina, a clock maker's daughter, he can't help himself. He is compelled to bite her and drink her blood. She isn't amused. She hates him and blames her family's current misfortune on him. When she starts breathing fire, she's even more pissed at him. How dare he cast this black magic on her and change her forever? I could easily understand where her rage was coming from!
I wish this had been longer. I really liked Madoc and how he wanted to save his brothers from the heartache of accidentally killing their lovers. I liked Fina even more, and found it fascinating that after she transitioned, she's stronger than Madoc. I thought their relationship could have been more thoroughly explored, but with only about 120 pages to work with, there isn't a lot of extraneous narrative. There was just enough depth to the characters to keep me engaged and wishing that this was a longer read.
There are some story threads left dangling for the next book. There is an evil being intent on destroying the dragons and stealing their power for himself. I'm curious to see how that all pans out, because while he's very villainous, he is also reacting out of a sense of betrayal. There is some contention between the brothers, too, and I would like to see where that goes.
Bottomline - Enjoyable read that suffers from it's short length. I found the paranormal elements interesting and unique, and want to learn more about Madoc and his brothers.