Title: Strengthened by Fire
Author: Andrew Grey
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Strengthened By Fire (By Fire Series)
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: Novella (103 pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Two hot firemen, their passion and love for each other and the fear of losing it culminates in a five alarm fire of a story.
Blurb: Lee Staunton and Dirk Krause have been seeing each other for a couple of months when they get the bad news: the firehouse they work at will be closed unless they can come up with the money to complete some maintenance and repairs. The union wants to stand and fight. There’s just one problem: the only suggestion for how to raise the money is Lee’s. And Dirk hates it. Unfortunately, everyone else thinks Lee’s “Chicken and Beefcake” dinner—which they’ll attend in just their hats, boots, and fire pants—is a great idea, and Lee goes ahead with the organizing. But interference from the borough council and low ticket sales threaten to rain on Lee’s parade. If Dirk can’t put aside his pride and stubborn nature for one night, it could cost both him and Lee their jobs—never mind their relationship.
Review: Strengthened by Fire by Andrew Grey picks up where Redemption by Fire leaves off, smack in the middle of the relationship between firefighters Lee and Dirk. For each man, their “coming out” at the fire house has enabled them to freely declare that they love each other but only in the privacy of each others arms. Both men still feel the pressure of being in a relationship outside the bedroom and for Dirk, whose hot temper often gets the better of him, the strain is beginning to show.
Lee starts off this novella coming face to face with his own mortality when the house he and the boy he is rescuing from explodes and they nearly lose their lives. In a very real way, Lee begins to understand that life is fleeting and it prompts him to want more in his relationship with Dirk. Dirk is a master at putting up barriers, in part due to the religious zealot his father is and more importantly due to his gruffness hiding a very sensitive inner core. Dirk can admit that he loves Lee but often holds him up under a harsher scrutiny then the other guys at the station.
So, when it is time to save the firehouse from being downsized and closed, Lee’s idea of a chicken dinner a la Chippendale’s is shot down immediately and hurtfully by Dirk, causing Lee to walk out and begin to doubt whether he and Dirk can ever really make a go of it.
This novella was, at its very core, a story of acceptance and learning one’s way in the torturous maze that is a serious relationship. Each man must discover for himself why the other is so important to him and come to grips with the idea of losing the one thing they hold more dear than anything else–each other.
First, let me say that no one does love scenes like Andrew Grey. They are, without a doubt, some of the hottest material ever written. His men love just as hard and as fully as they do their jobs-with full on and full out passion. To then watch this lust morph into tenderness–well that is just brilliant.
“He’d once read that after making love, there was the “time for two,” when the rest of the world stopped and it was only them, quiet, peaceful, and alone with their hearts.”
This is the main thrust of this beautiful love story–finding that “moment” where there is only space for each other. Where fear over their own mortality, worry over the possibility of the firehouse closing and the subsequent potential of losing their jobs, and the petty anger that springs up in any relationship, melts away and all that is left is the other person, whose heart beats only for you. This is what Andrew Grey does best–write of the overwhelming strength and heart stopping passion of love and Strengthened by Fire is his finest example of just that to date.
I highly recommend Strengthened by Fire by author Andrew Grey to you dear reader. I believe even the most cynical amongst us will find themselves captivated by this incredibly tender romantic tale. However, you must decide for yourself, as always. I suggest you immerse yourself in the fire and heat of Dirk and Lee’s passion and enjoy watching their “moment” together.