Title: Salamander Moon
Author: Kate Roman
Length: 8,200 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal romance
In the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, florist Rhyan Hall accidentally outs himself as a salamander shifter to his crush, hunky ceramicist Mike Chen. But can Rhyan trust Mike with his secret? And in the midst of the town’s autumn moose festival, will Mike find a way to share his own true nature?
Rhyan is a salamander shifter who needs to wet his skin at least every two hours or he spontaneously changes into a salamander. After a spate of recent burglaries in town Rhyan has rigged up an elaborate burglar device which he accidentally sets off when Mike, the guy Rhyan has been crushing on, asks him out for coffee. Trapped in the device, Rhyan is helpless when the change overtakes him, leading to Mike discovering his secret.
I’m not a huge fan of shifter stories but this one proved to be a delight. Rhyan’s dry sense of humour shines through the narrative, as he realises the game is up and, since Mike was with him when he changed, there’s no way he can hide his shifter status from Mike. I had great fun imagining Rhyan as a talking salamander, and thought the author had done a good job in adding in little details of what being a salamander felt like for Rhyan.
Most of the story is focused on that awkward situation, followed by a first date. The interplay between the characters was fun and lighthearted and we managed to find out lots of information about Rhyan in a way that wasn’t at all info-dumpy. His mortification at shifting in front of guy he really liked made Rhyan very endearing as a character and I enjoyed his good-natured embarrassment which warred with a certain pride in being a unique creature. Mike is more of an unknown quantity, but there were enough clues about him that I’d pretty much guessed the twist at the end of the story.
Having read a few ‘unusual’ shifter stories in the past, I find they work best if the shifting is used for comedic effect. It certainly worked with this story which managed to be cute, funny and entertaining and I’d recommend it to those who like shifter stories and are looking for something lighthearted with their Halloween scares.