Point of Ignition
by Erin Dutton
228 pgs.-Bold Strokes Books
By Guest Reviewer Cathy Pegau
Buy it Amazon, Bold Strokes Books, ARe
Arson investigation is not exactly what firefighter Kate Chambers signed up for. But she doesn’t have a choice when an injury forces her off the engine and into the office. Her first case, a fire at a downtown bar, is a clear-cut instance of insurance fraud, or so she thinks.
But the property co-owner and prime suspect, Alexi Clark, has spent too many years battling her own demons to quietly go to jail for a crime she didn’t commit.
Soon Alexi is fighting both the false charges against her and an unexpected attraction to the investigator determined to prove them. Amid a blaze that threatens to consume them both, Kate and Alexi redefine love and trust.
I won Point of Ignition during National Coming Out Week over at Dear Author. I’d never read Erin Dutton’s work before, but she has a new fan in me.
Kate Chambers had been part of an engine company until an injury sidelined her career. Frustrated at no longer being in the trenches, Kate is trying to come to terms with the fact that she will have sit behind a desk until retirement, or find another line of work. The fire at Alexi Clark’s bar, In Left Field, is her first assignment as an investigator.
Alexi is a mess. She sank her heart, soul and money into the bar and it’s gone. Her business partner is keeping things from her, and the partner’s wife, Alexi’s best friend, keeps throwing Alexi’s alcoholism in her face. On top of that, Kate has marked her as a suspect.
When the women first meet at the scene of the fire, Alexi is rightfully upset and Kate wants to comfort the stunning woman. Not the most professional attitude, especially if Alexi started the fire. But despite her attraction to Alexi, Kate is determined to do her job and find out who did it. Even if it means pissing off Alexi with her questions.
In her gut, Kate doesn’t believe Alexi is guilty, but she doesn’t have evidence either way. Alexi resents Kate’s implications, and at the same time finds the tall blonde incredibly attractive. After a second fire destroys some prized possessions, Alexi gets drunk at a bar where Kate and her friend are hanging out. Kate intervenes and brings Alexi back to her apartment. Drunk Alexi makes a move, kissing Kate, and as much as Kate wants to reciprocate and then some, she leaves Alexi in her bed and sleeps on the couch.
Kate continues to dig deeper into the motivation behind the arson, which keeps Alexi at arm’s length despite their mutual attraction. Between the two of them, however, they figure out the who and why of the fire.
Before long, the women act on their desires. The love scenes—only two, and perfectly placed within the story—are sweet and sensual as Kate initially allows Alexi to set the pace then shows Alexi she can let go and still be on equal terms with her lover. Both have issues to deal with (Kate’s career, Alexi’s alcoholism and ability to let someone care for her) but I could see these two hanging in there for the long run.
If I read contemporary romances, I typically read those that have a strong external plot or conflict to help bring the characters together, ie: romantic suspense or thriller or the like. The arson plot here isn’t much of a mystery, but it’s not the focus either. Kate and Alexi are, and I was pleased with how their internal and external conflicts were meshed. Most of all, I liked these women and wanted to see them happy.
I’ll be looking for more from this author and checking out her backlist.
Heat level: 3-- Sensual love scenes, but nothing graphic.