Celebrating Firefighters: "Burning It Down" by Christopher Koehler

Firefighters are true heroes, running into dangerous situations, risking their lives to save others. Their jobs are high pressure and much is expected from them. With all the heroics, we don’t always see their vulnerable sides. That is why we love reading m/m romances featuring firefighters. We love seeing the man beneath the uniform.
Ebook giveaway of Burning it Down at the end of the post; Giveaway ends 4/18 11:59 pm CDT


A CalPac Crew Novel 

When newly promoted fire battalion chief Owen Douglas skips out on physical therapy after an on-the-job injury, his one-time hookup, Brad Sundstrom, bullies him into joining the adaptive rowing program at the Capital City Rowing Club. There, Owen meets Adam Lennox, a veterinarian and former rower who also works as a volunteer. Adam is new in town and eager to make friends, but the chemistry between him and Owen is blistering. 

Despite Owen’s commitment issues, he wants more this time. He makes a move, and the friendship he shares with Adam turns into more. But Adam hasn’t left his past as far behind as he thought. When his abusive ex-boyfriend, Jordan Sanders, returns, Adam and Owen find themselves in grave danger. 

Jordan won’t let anything stop him from getting Adam back—not even a court order. Soon Adam has to choose between breaking up with Owen to save him from Jordan’s fury or risking both their lives to stay by Owen’s side.

Published by: Dreamspinner Press
Published Date: December 6, 2012
Pages: 284

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press



An excerpt from “Burning It Down”:

[It is Owen’s first day of adaptive rowing, a new part of his physical therapy regimen after a terrible job-related injury. He’s not there willingly. Brad Sundstrom, loose cannon and all around good guy, has dragged Owen there by the scruff his neck in return for making sure he and Drew St Charles talked through their miscommunications in Tipping the Balance. Of course, as soon as Owen walked into the boathouse, he saw Adam and his attitude changed. Adam is explaining the fundamentals of sculling using a dock box, in this case a contraption that sits atop a picnic table and contains the apparatus of a boat—the seat, the tracks it slides on, the oarlocks—without putting a rower on the water. This gives newbs a chance to practice without drenching themselves.]

~edited for clarity~

Adam took the oars and settled them in the oarlocks, explaining to Owen as he did so. “As I’m sure you’ve been told, the boats have pontoons, but making sure the oars are secure is a good habit to get into. Yours seems to be an injury, not a condition, and you won’t always need these accommodations. So. Sculling. The most important thing to remember is left hand over right.”

Adam sat with his legs flat, his torso just a few degrees past his hips. He held the oar handles loosely yet firmly, with his hands at the very end of the handles, his thumbs covering the rounded ends. Then he let his hands fly. “Small movements in the hands make for large movements in the oar blades.”

“So I see,” Owen said. “Does it matter which hand’s on top?”

“Yes,” Adam said. “Like I said earlier, it’s always the left.”

“I’m not sure there’s any particular reason it has to be left over right, but according to Coach Bedford, the hands can’t be at the same level because in sculling the oar handles actually cross each other twice, once during the drive and once during the recovery. If the oars were at the same level, they’d collide. So, left over right. I guess it could be right over left, but it’s not, and every single, double, and quad in creation is built left over right. That’s the convention,” Brad said. “You also want to keep your hands close together. Like, really close together. Scullers keep their fingernails super short, it’s that close together, otherwise you’ll be taking divots out of your right hand, so remember—left over right.”

“You didn’t tell me it was a blood sport,” Owen said.

Brad shrugged. “It’ll put hair on your chest.”

“As you may recall, there’s plenty of hair on my chest,” Owen said.

“Oh, really?” Adam said, his interest slipping through. Damn, he was trying to keep it professional.

Brad actually blushed. “I… uh, had other things on my mind.”

“Yeah, like Drew,” Owen snorted.

“I cannot wait to hear this story,” Adam said.

“Later,” Owen and Brad both said.

“Your turn, Owen,” Brad said.

Adam climbed down, but when Owen paused before the picnic table, he figured it out. “Here,” he said softly, climbing onto the bench. “Take my hand.”

When Owen hesitated, Adam sighed. “Take it. You can get all macho later.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Owen said.

“Just take my hand, Romeo.”

Adam provided a steadying hand to help the bigger man climb gingerly up onto the picnic table and then settle into the dock box. He jumped down and grabbed the oars, which had gone flying once he’d let go of them. “Got them?”

Owen closed his massive hands over Adam’s, shooting him a challenging look. “I think so.”

Adam felt his cheeks pink. Where Owen was concerned, that seemed to be their natural state. He coughed to cover his embarrassment, but at that point it was like throwing a doily over a hippo. “Remember, the biggest difference between this and the erg is that you have to control the oar handles. If you let the water do it, you’ll jack the set of the boat. So left over right, and minute adjustments to control the depth of the oars’ blades in the water, but—”

“Oh? Do I get to see your butt while we row? This just keeps getting better and better.” Owen grinned at him like a hungry wolf, and for once even Brad was at a loss for words.

“Just take some strokes and if you do what I think you’re about to do, just remember,” Adam said, “mammals are mammals. I know how you’re put together. I can take you apart.”

Brad burst out laughing. “He’s got you there, dude. Just do as he says. I think I’m going to have him in bow seat, so he can steer the shell. If you give him too much flack, you’re going to end up with his oar handles in your kidneys, and you’ll be pissing blood for a few days.”

With a sly smile for Adam, Owen did as he was told. For his part, Adam admired the view. Even recovering from what must’ve been a horrendous injury, Owen was still amazing to look at as his efforts pulled his stretchy workout clothes tight across his back.

“Remember the sequence,” Brad cautioned.

“Right,” Owen said.

Adam tried to focus on Owen’s technique, but he kept straying to Owen’s physique. He really was a lot to look at, but what was his deal? Why was he in the adaptive program? How did he and Brad know each other? There were stories there, that was for sure.

“Good enough,” Brad pronounced. He helped Owen down while Adam took the oars out of dock box.

“Brad, oars down to the dock with us or back to the oar locker?” Adam said.

“Back to the locker. I already took two pairs down. I’ll meet you guys on the dock,” Brad said.

Adam jogged the oars back to the locker on the outside of the singles house while Owen set off after Brad at a much slower pace. Adam easily caught up to him.

Capital City Rowing Club did what it could to make the dock and the ramp leading down to it non-slippery, but that only went so far. There was still water involved, and it still lessened the friction between feet and the dock’s surface.

“Can you make that?” Adam said softly.

Owen looked down the ramp to the dock below and shrugged. “I’ll do my best.”

Adam walked slowly beside him. He did what he could to make it look casual, just one guy walking next to another down an incline to the dock, you know? Because even though they were supposed to let the adaptive rowers fend for themselves, Adam could see Owen’s leg was bothering him, and besides which, the ramp down to the dock was steep. The river was tidal, and when the tide went out in the San Francisco and San Pablo bays, the river’s water level dropped. Naturally they were heading for a low tide.

“You don’t have to do that, you know,” Owen said.

“Do what?” Adam pretended he hadn’t been caught red-handed.

Owen sighed. “Shadow me to make sure I don’t fall. It looks awkward but I’ll be all right. I’m just slow.”

“You’re not going down, not on my watch.”

“That’s what you think,” Owen said, leering. Adam hadn’t noticed the dimples before.

Then Owen’s walker slipped and Owen lost his grip on it, sending it skittering the rest of the way down the ramp to hit a surprised Brad in the legs.

“Shit!” Owen swore, his left leg starting to buckle.

But then there was Adam, sliding under his arm to grab him around the waist. “I’ve got you. You’re safe.” He felt Owen tense for a moment, then sag against him. “Can you walk?”

“I… yeah. I think so,” Owen said. He sounded a little shaken, like he realized he could be flat on his back on the dock right now, or even in the mud below.

Adam stooped a bit to accommodate Owen’s somewhat shorter height, but it wasn’t that far and he wasn’t that much taller. Besides, he really liked the feel of Owen against him, even if had to tell himself a surprising number of times for so short a ramp that this was no time for thoughts like that.

But apparently he wasn’t the only one, because Owen wasn’t in any hurry to let go when they reached the bottom of the ramp.

Brad regarded them with naked amusement. “Uh, guys? The dock’s pretty much flat here. You can let go of him now, Adam.”

They both jerked their heads to look at him, like somehow they’d forgotten he was there.

“My… uh, leg’s still a bit iffy,” Owen said.

Adam felt himself heat right up. Again. “I’m just helping him to the boat.”

“You two actually believe that, don’t you?”


Copyright © Christopher Koehler


About Christopher:

Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out it putting pen to paper.

Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged that tendency and the writing both. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.

When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.

Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.

Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.


Contact links

Visit him at http://christopherkoehler.net/blog or follow him on Twitter @christopherink


Christopher Koehler will generously provide one eBook copy of “Burning It Down” title to one lucky commenter! ❤

You need to be 18 years or older to qualify for this giveaway

The winner will be chosen by random.org after the contest ends April 18, 2014 11:59 PM CDT


Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press




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