Austin Reynolds always wanted to be a firefighter, but when an injury prevents that, he focuses on his second love and becomes a chef. Every first Monday of the month, Austin cooks for the firefighters at Station 58. When he arrives with his monthly offering, he notices a gorgeous man in a suit.
Conrad Strauss is an FBI agent on the tail of a serial killer. Conrad was hunting the one they call The Artist when he was in Portland, but it seems the killer has followed him to Dallas. There are very few leads and Conrad is beyond frustrated. To release some tension, he heads to a recommended BDSM club, as it’s been too long since he’s dominated a sub. And when he steps foot inside, he sees Austin.
Austin’s physical limitations mean that Doms often pass him over for casual play. But Rad, as he’s known on the scene, wants Austin completely. The two men hit it off, and find they are completely compatible and they begin building something together. But a break in the case shows that Austin could be a potential target, and Conrad’s already strong determination to catch the killer goes off the charts. But all of that might be for nothing, because if Conrad can’t catch the killer, Austin will lose his life.
The blurb for this one intrigued me immediately. This book is actually part of two series, Durston’s A Steel Door series, and the larger Dallas Fire & Rescue series that will feature multiple authors, but there’s no need for you to have read any of the other ones as it works completely fine on its own.
So there’s two major plot lines going on here. First there’s the romance and Conrad and Austin finding a D/s relationship that works. Austin has been frustrated and let down on numerous occasions. Because his disability is an old injury to his leg, he can’t serve a Dom like a sub normally would. And Doms get frustrated with him because of it. That Conrad is not only willing to work around it, but also finds a solution that works for them both, is exactly what Austin has been needing so badly. What’s even better, at least for the reader, is that these guys have insane chemistry. As individual characters, they are pretty well done. But together they become incendiary and just light up the page. Watching Austin find what he’s been needing with a Dom who is attentive, and watching Austin truly find his subspace for the first time, was incredibly satisfying. These guys work. On their own, yes, but especially together.
The second major arc is that of the serial killer that has been plaguing the Pacific Northwest and now has moved on to Dallas. This part both worked and didn’t for me. On the one hand, I love a good crime story and this one fits the bill. The killings are brutal, and the motive behind them is heinous and yet believable. Clues were doled out to the MCs at exactly the right time, and it all came together rather well. So I was on board for that part of it.
However, I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was fairly early on. Now, I’m also fairly certain that it’s just because I’ve watched too many crime shows, as the author did not over play her hand. But still, that brought it down a bit for me. The other part that didn’t work as well for me was that there were scenes from the killer’s third person present perspective. I totally get why Durston chose to include these scenes, and I really do believe they were necessary. They were also sufficiently creepy without going over the top. But I’m not the reader this works for, as it pulled me out of the story and I prefer it when I’m not certain of the killer’s motivations.
But I can still recommend this book easily. The characters were so well done and enjoyable, not to mention had amazing chemistry, and the mystery itself played out well. If you’re a fan of BDSM, great characters, and a good crime story, then this story might be for you.