Lukas Wolf has no desire to have a partner. He doesn’t need any help, especially from some young graduate with no field experience, to catch a serial arsonist who is escalating in the county.
Austin Kinsley moved to Tampa Bay to reconnect with his cousin, Thomas Flame, and to apply for an arson investigator position with the county. Of course, getting his dream job is the easy part. Working with his new partner, Lukas Wolf, and finding what he needs to satisfy his craving for pain might be more difficult.
Cothern is one of THOSE authors. We all have them. The authors whose books we cannot get enough of. The authors who when I’m asked if I want to review their latest book I don’t even bother to ask what it’s about or when it’s due (because I will give up sleep to read it). The authors whose writing pulls you so fully into the story that you’re perturbed when you have to return to your dull and boring life (at least compared to their characters’ it is). You know, THOSE authors. The latest novel from Cothern’s Guns & Hoses series was no exception as I found myself so completely wrapped up in Austin and Lukas’s lives that I stayed up way too late to finish Fire & Ice.
For those who have read Guns & Hoses, you will be delighted to know that we get to catch up with Tig and Flame as Austin is Flame’s cousin and he is trying to get a job as an arson investigator in Tampa. While Austin is more than happy to stay with his cousin as he’s always looked up to him and credits him for making his high school years survivable, Austin finds it hard to tolerate Flame’s heavy handedness when Flame’s protective instincts are triggered. And it turns out that Austin’s new partner Lukas sets off all of Flame’s protective instincts. Fortunately, Austin is more than willing to tell his cousin to back off and mind his own business, even if he’s not willing to share his biggest secret with his cousin. But Flame isn’t the only person Austin is keeping secrets from and I found his deception with Lukas rather entertaining. Normally I wouldn’t consider Austin’s deception appropriate, but Cothern makes it work because Austin’s intentions are good and not coming from a place of malice. That didn’t keep me from worrying about the fallout that was sure to accompany his secret being exposed, but the author does something that was so unexpected that the fallout was practically nil.
I loved almost everything about Fire & Ice and I’ll get to the teensy weensy issue that I didn’t enjoy momentarily. The chemistry between Austin and Lukas is intense, but Lukas spends so much time fighting against it that when they do connect it is explosive. And it’s even more intense when they scene together. The BDSM scenes are off-the-charts hot. I seriously enjoyed that it took Lukas so long to figure out Austin’s secret and that it was his denial of his attraction to Austin that kept him from seeing what was right in front of him. I loved the serial arson investigation that Cothern included in the book. It not only elevated the novel’s level of realism, but it also provided Austin opportunities he needed to prove his mettle as an investigator. But the arson investigation also brought in the teeny tiny part of the story I didn’t enjoy. Cothern does such a good job of bringing in the FBI and utilizing their reputation for taking over local cases that I was a little let down with how that scenario played out. For once, it was more realism than I wanted simply because I wanted to see Lukas and Austin break the case. But that’s just me pouting and it wasn’t enough of an issue to reduce my rating because I loved the way Fire & Ice played out in the end. I cannot wait to see what Cothern has in store next for the Guns & Hoses series.