Review by Tom Webb
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
In the third, and what appears to be final, book in the Fire series, we once again spend some time with Lee Stanton and Dirk Krause, firefighters and partners. Lee is the gentle giant of the two, a self-assured mountain of a man with patience for his lover as big as his heart. Dirk has been slowly coming to terms with being out and proud, and his love for his younger partner colors all he does. Even when he’s being a huge jerk.
In the aftermath of a fire which the two men help fight, three people lose their lives. Even though there was nothing else that could have been done, Dirk feels responsible. The ghosts of what might have happened, what he could have done, might have been able to do…they haunt him. So much so, that Lee realizes something needs to change.
The two men talk and decide a vacation is on order, and book a week-long cruise, just the two of them. Ah, romance on the high seas, the crisp ocean air, all-you-can-eat buffets all day and night. They must have died and gone to heaven. Until they see Dirk’s homophobic father is on the cruise also. Will Dirk allow him to control his behavior and life one more time? Is Dirk going to waste this opportunity to spend time openly loving his man? Or will Lee, and fate, intervene and change their relationship forever?
Andrew Grey has brought back two of my favorite characters and let us have a glimpse of something truly unique – a realistic exploration of a strained parental relationship that moves forward with integrity. All three books carry the thread of a “two steps forward and three steps back” sort of theme between Dirk and his dad. Having seen this in real life, it’s very true to life. Concessions are made, and understandings arrived at, but then the ugliness rears its head again and again.
What Mr. Grey does here is showcase Dirk, in all his pig-headed, stubbornly prideful idiocy, and makes us love him. Because at heart, he just wants his dad to love and accept him. And when he arrives at the adult realization that he is a grown man, responsible only for his own feelings and views, he is finally able to bust out of his own frozen emotions and meet his father man to man. I really like that Lee supported him, loved him, made love to him, counseled him, but ultimately left Dirk to come to his own conclusions about his father. And Dirk does, with a little help from an emergency and a new person who helps his dad see things from a different vantage point.
This is a warm, comfortable read, and it’s perfect for a cold fall or winter night. Lee is strong, Dirk has mellowed, and we get a resolution that feels…right. What more can I ask for? Maybe a cup of hot chocolate? Very highly recommended.