Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: DSP and Amazon
Type: Novel from Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: From the moment former LAPD detective Bobby Dawson spots Ichiro Tokugawa, he knows the man is trouble. And not just because the much younger Japanese inker is hot, complicated, and pushes every one of Bobby’s buttons. No, Ichi is trouble because he’s Cole McGinnis’s younger brother and off-limits in every possible way. And Bobby knows that even before Cole threatens to kill him for looking Ichi’s way. But despite his gut telling him Ichi is bad news, Bobby can’t stop looking… or wanting.
Ichi was never one to play by the rules. Growing up in Japan as his father’s heir, he’d been bound by every rule imaginable until he had enough and walked away from everything to become his own man. Los Angeles was supposed to be a brief pitstop before he moved on, but after connecting with his American half-brothers, it looks like a good city to call home for a while—if it weren’t for Bobby Dawson.
Bobby is definitely a love-them-and-leave-them type, a philosophy Ichi whole-heartedly agrees with. Family was as much of a relationship as Ichi was looking for, but something about the gruff and handsome Bobby Dawson makes Ichi want more.
Much, much more.
Review: Down and Dirty is part of the Cole McGinnis series. As it deviates from the other books in the series and follows Cole’s best friend, Bobby Dawson, and his half-brother, Ichiro Tokugawa, it could be read as a standalone, although I would strongly recommend reading it as part of the series or you will miss a lot of the main characters’ histories that are within the previous books. When reading it as part of the series, it should be read in order or there may be spoilers for book four, Dirty Deeds. Down and Dirty is unequivocally all about the romance that develops between Bobby and Ichiro. It takes place during the events of the previous book in the Cole McGinnis series, and those events are in this book as background action, but it is the romance between Bobby and Ichi that is absolutely front and centre.
Bobby is an ex-cop who came out of the closet after taking early retirement. Gay cops were worse than just discriminated against when Bobby first joined the police force; they possibly risked their very lives if they came out. So Bobby stayed in the closet until he was forced out of it and, as a consequence, quit the force. It was good getting to know more of Bobby’s background. He was a gruff, blunt, roguish, fascinating character in the earlier books and I loved learning more about what made him the man he was and seeing him grow as his relationship with Ichi developed.
Covered in tattoos, and a talented tattoo artist himself, Ichi is a study in quiet strength and self assurance; an intriguing and sometimes headstrong old soul in a twenty-seven(ish) year old’s body. We learn a lot more of Ichi’s history with his family and the repeated rejection and disapproval he lived through as a child with his father. Yet, despite the need for his father’s constantly denied approval, to be the good son, Ichi had the strength to walk away and follow his own path rather than that his father had determined for him.
Bobby is intensely attracted to the captivating younger man from the first time he lays eyes on the newly discovered little brother of his best friend. Bobby doesn’t do relationships – far too messy and complicated for his tastes. He prefers to stick to doing the endless stream of young twinks that fall into his bed and then back out of it again. However, there’s no denying that there’s more than mere lust as he gets to know Ichi better each time their paths cross. But there are rules that a man doesn’t cross when it comes to good friends, and one of those rules is no dating their siblings. Ichi is aware of Bobby’s deserved reputation as a one-night stand kinda guy and has no intention of being another notch on his belt, regardless of how incredibly drawn he is to the ruggedly handsome man. Yet a series of events have both of them re-evaluating those decisions and, despite Ichi being the same age as Bobby’s son, they admit there is something greater than just sexual attraction growing between them.
I loved getting to know each of them better as characters, learning more of their backgrounds and what had made them into the men they had become. I enjoyed the humour that is always present in one form or another in a Rhys Ford book. The only thing I missed from this story was the snark I had been expecting, especially between Bobby and Ichi, based on their characters in the previous books. The path to their relationship was relatively conflict free, which I did appreciate, but a little friendly combativeness would have suited their personalities. Having said that, that was down to my personal expectations, and I truly did end up really enjoying this book as it was. The growth from their individual beliefs that any happy ever after was not for them to wanting a committed relationship with each other was very well done and believably resolved.
I really like that they didn’t fight what was building between them beyond the initial ‘this is a bad idea’ – it wouldn’t have felt true to either of their characters if they hadn’t had that initial reaction. Just as it wouldn’t have felt real if that had been too prolonged or gone back and forth too much. These are men, not boys, and despite their feelings for each other taking them both by surprise, as neither of them had love and relationships as even a blip on the radar, they acted like grown men and talked about whether they were willing to explore what was happening between them or walk away from it. There is no doubt about the chemistry between them. We get a glimpse of them as a couple outside the bedroom, but I confess, I would have liked to see just a little more of that, although that’s more a testament to wanting more of them because I liked seeing them together so much, than that there wasn’t enough of it for the story. Down and Dirty was a wonderful detour in the Cole McGinnis series and I look forward to seeing more of them in future books, even if it’s only through Cole’s eyes.