The Fox and the Firefly by Riley Maylon

The Fox and the FireflyHaving been injured by an IED, distorting half his body and face, Mason Harris is resigned to living the rest of his life alone. Rejected by his girlfriend after she sees his disfigurement, Harris instead decides to pour himself into his job as an undercover FBI agent. When he’s sent undercover to investigate a Russian crime family in New Orleans called the Nolikovs, he meets a fiery redhead named Ruby, a bartender at the Red Fox Bar, an establishment the Russian mafia is using as a front for their illegal activity.

Harris never thought he’d meet someone else, and this relationship couldn’t be more complicated: Ruby is at the center of the investigation, and she’s being pursued by one of the Nolikovs brothers. Harris has two goals now: unravel the Nolikovs criminal syndicate and free Ruby from the Nolikovs grasp, so they can live together safely. That’s a pretty tough combination, and Ruby might just be Harris’s undoing.

The Fox and the Firefly is a nice mixture of crime fiction, romance, and thriller. Harris is a well-rounded and unique character, and Ruby is an attractive and sympathetic heroine, making their romance both urgent and believable. Maylon does a good job of creating suspense for her two lead characters, leading to a dramatic and startling climax.