Harrison Fisher is a private investigator who has been hired to find a missing 17-year old. The man who hired Harrison is not much older himself, and is a friend of Arlo, the missing young man. Arlo went into a BDSM club and that is the last anyone has heard from him. Arlo’s parents are neglectful and the police aren’t mustering up much energy to look for a gay, semi-homeless kid who is almost 18. So Harrison takes the case, even though it puts him back in the BDSM world, something he tried with poor results years ago and never thought he’d visit again.
Harrison figures the best way to find out what happened to Arlo is to score an invite to the member’s only club, Hell’s Bedroom, where Arlo was last seen. In order to do that, Harrison seeks out a Dom at a party who may be willing to bring Harrison as a guest. When he meets Cash, the men click, but Harrison is wary. He has to play at being a sub in order to interest Cash enough to take him to the club, but he is also very resistant to the idea. The emotional scars from his past experience, as well as his naturally prickly and independent nature, make it tough for Harrison to even feign a desire for submission. Fortunately, Cash and Harrison have a connection and, despite the fact that neither one is a traditional Dom or traditional sub, they fit well together.
Soon it becomes clear that something serious is going on at Hell’s Bedroom. Arlo is not the only one missing and there are some suspicious activities that indicate his disappearance is just the tip of the iceberg. Harrison can’t keep lying to Cash about what is going on; he doesn’t want to either. There is something between them, something real that the men want to explore. But neither one is willing to ignore people abducting subs and they are determined to figure out who is behind it all. Now, it is race to save Arlo, as well as to uncover who is behind the kidnapping and how to stop them for good.
The Kitchen Sink Dom is the first book in Tanya Chris’ new Hell’s Bedroom series and I really enjoyed it. There is such a great dynamic between Cash and Harrison and I loved the way their relationship develops, weaving in and out of the suspense side of things. Harrison had a bad experience with the wrong Dom as a young man and hasn’t been willing to explore his masochistic side since then. But it is still there and entering the world of BDSM for the case brings all those needs back to the surface. But Harrison also isn’t a traditional sub and definitely is not interested in turning over control or performing the usual submissive role. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t go crazy for the things he and Harrison do together, but he is fighting a bit of a battle within himself over letting go. It sets up an interesting problem as Harrison comes to Cash, pretending he wants to be a sub. But he is so clearly not and Cash struggles to figure out what Harrison wants, why he keeps asking for things that clearly don’t interest him. Cash can see that glimmer of the real Harrison and he knows he can give him what he wants if only Harrison will actually ask for what he truly desires.
There comes a point, of course, where the truth all comes out, and when it does, things are amazing between Cash and Harrison. Each man has some insecurity about the role they truly want within the BDSM dynamic. Harrison doesn’t want to be a sub, but he does enjoy other aspects of their play tremendously. And Cash is not a traditional Dom, more of a “service top” as he describes himself. He goes crazy helping his partner get turned on, but that means that most subs aren’t interested because he has no desire for true dominance over them. So there is this tension on both sides of not quite fitting in, and then this amazing connection when the guys realize that they are exactly what the other wants and needs. They are sexy and intense together and I loved seeing them both explore the dynamic between them and find that happiness. Harrison is nicely prickly and Cash is warm and sweet and this is the type of pairing I just love.
Their relationship develops both on and off the case as Harrison, and later Cash as well, try to investigate Arlo’s disappearance. There is a nice mystery/suspense element here as they delve into what happened to Arlo. This isn’t high thriller, but there is enough intensity and excitement to give a nice balance to the relationship end of the story. We get to know some of the side characters along the way here as the guys enlist the help of some others from the club, as well as a police officer Harrison hires to help out. I do feel like there is a point where the police and FBI clearly should have been involved here and the guys go it alone long past what seemed reasonable to me. I know the police were apathetic at the start, but there is point where there is clear evidence that should have brought in additional law enforcement and it didn’t makes sense to me (other than for plot purposes) why they wouldn’t. Not to mention one character makes a purchase with his own money to try to trap the bad guys that could have easily left him in jail if anyone questioned him. So this part felt like it stretched believability a little, but it was still an engaging mystery plot. Things tie up with Arlo here, but the bigger picture with the kidnappings is still to be uncovered and it sounds like that part of the storyline will continue into the next book.
I’ll throw in a note here that Harrison is very much a novice to the BDSM world, despite his past foray, and he is very uncomfortable with many aspects of the scene, particularly the more hardcore Dom/sub dynamics. It is clear that this is coming from his own insecurities about his interests, as well as his own bad experience. However, Harrison makes some disparaging comments about kink, and certain activities in particular. The other characters are quick to point out to him when he is being narrow minded or rude, and Harrison’s lack of understanding is sort of a gateway for readers who may be confusing the consensual activities that the characters undertake with the non-consensual ones facing the abductees. So I do think that it works, particularly as we see Harrison open his mind and gain understanding over the course of the story. But be aware that there are some negative comments he makes about kink if this is something that may bother you.
Overall, I think this was a great start to the new series. I was totally caught up both in the relationship between Cash and Harrison, as well as the larger suspense plot line. I am really excited to see where things go in future books.