Title: Power Exchange
Author: A.J. Rosen
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Length: 117K words
Genre: MM BDSM Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average sex to story ratio
Keywords/Tags: Cops, Serial Killer, Psychologist, Brothers, Coming Out
Rating: Really liked it
Reviewed by Sadonna
From the moment Detective Gavin DeGrassi steps into the world of BDSM to solve the brutal slaying of Dom George Kaiser, his course is not his own. Mesmerized by the context in which the victim lived and the images of the lifestyle seared into his soul, Gavin must find a way to navigate these unknown waters. With his personal life in upheaval due to marital trouble, and his professional life uncertain with the assignment of a new partner, Gavin needs all the help he can get understanding the case.
Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and a well known Dom. With Ben’s help as a consultant and attention to Gavin’s own murky truths, Gavin delves deeper than he ever thought he would into the world of restraints and paddles. Forced to scrutinize his true nature and his innermost desires, Gavin has a choice: keep the fear of submitting at bay, or dive in and solve the case with the knowledge he gains. When another victim is discovered, Gavin’s choice is made for him, and he’s pulled headlong into the deepest, most emotional journey of his life.
Unfortunately for him and Ben, a killer has noticed, has taken stock, and has set his sights on the D/s pair. Can Gavin outwit him, or will his first exchange of power be his last?
Where to start! So I read the first chapter of this story online and was hooked immediately. The character of Gavin DeGrassi is so well written that I just wanted to read faster and faster to see what was going to happen to him. In this book, there are really two parallel journeys/stories: Gavin’s journey of self-discovery and the race to solve a string of serial murders in the local BDSM community.
It opens with the killing of man involved in BDSM and the staging of the murder in the man’s playroom. Gavin is one of the homicide detectives called in on the case. His partner, Trent, is kind of a jerk even if he is a pretty good detective. Gavin and Trent meet with consultant Dr. Ben Haverson who is not only a noted local psychologist, but also a Dom. Ben is to provide insight into both the BDSM world as well as the killings. Unfortunately Gavin is also extremely attracted to Ben. This is a problem since he is married and his partner is pretty homophobic. Gavin has spent years denying his attraction to men. Given the pressure from his family of 3 brothers – also all cops – and his retired police Lieutenant father and his social climbing wife, he is already on the edge.
The pressure from his family (really two of his brothers, his parents and his wife, Victoria) includes his refusal to go for a promotion. He is happy being a homicide detective and he’s good at it. He doesn’t like paperwork and politics and has no interest in climbing the ranks. At the family Sunday brunch, he feels blindsided by his wife and mother and father who start talking about his career and the possibility of starting a family. Later in the day, Gavin is blindsided yet again by Victoria’s actions and he leaves their home, thereby setting up his evening trip to a BDSM club where he runs into Ben.
From this point in the story, we learn much about Gavin’s pent-up desire and why he has been firmly in the closet all these years. However, he cannot resist Ben and begins a physical relationship with him. Ben believes that Gavin is a natural submissive and that he can show him the true meaning of the power exchange in such relationships. As they embark on this journey, another murder occurs and they are no closer to solving the original murder.
Gavin gets a new partner, Myah, who has transferred from Chicago. She is a beautiful woman who is used to not being taken seriously. She finds Gavin to be a breath of fresh air and they build a very good relationship – both working and personal. Unfortunately as soon as she joins homicide, another murder takes place of another Dom also staged in the dungeon of his home. This couple has a closer tie to Ben and Gavin is upset about that as well as the fact that there are now two unsolved murders and no physical evidence or suspects.
As Ben and Gavin deepen their relationship and Ben tutors Gavin in BDSM, they are racing against the clock to solve yet more murders within the community. As the case escalates, Myah and Gavin’s brother Cole are also instrumental in trying to solve the murders and find the killer. Unfortunately this is the place where the murder mystery part of the story falls apart a little for me. I was disappointed that Gavin didn’t figure out who the killer was since I’m sure virtually every reader did.
The relationship part of this story between Ben and Gavin was fascinating and hot and really well written. The exploration of the BDSM culture and the meaning it has in the lives of the participants was sensitively portrayed in the budding relationship between these two men. The mystery part – well that wasn’t too mysterious. But overall, it is still a very good read and I really enjoyed it. Recommended especially for anyone who wants more insight into BDSM.