Review: Hard Line (The Woodbury Boys #2)

Author: Sidney Bell

Publisher: Carina Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher


Blurb: Premed student Tobias Benton is making amends for his past. He keeps his head down, mouth shut and colors within the lines. But when his close friend Ghost goes missing, Tobias will do whatever it takes to get answers—including using blackmail to enlist some help. The last thing he’s looking for is romance.

Private investigator Sullivan Tate isn’t above a little breaking and entering to solve a case, but when Tobias catches him in the act, it’s almost game over. Their uneasy alliance only gets more complicated when Sullivan learns that Tobias shares his interest in kink. Mixing sex and work could kill Sullivan’s career, but Tobias’s acceptance of Sullivan’s darkest urges is nearly impossible to resist.

Side by side, Tobias and Sullivan spend their days searching for the truth and their nights fulfilling their respective fantasies. But the answers they seek are far more dangerous than they realize, and soon they find themselves fighting for more than just each other.


Review: Tobias Benton needs to find his friend Ghost. Instead of Ghost, Tobias finds Sullivan Tate. Tobias convinces/coerces Sullivan to work with him to find Ghost. Sullivan is between a rock and hard place. Sullivan may want to branch out and investigate more cases, but he didn’t want to do it quite like this. Their relationship is pretty tense. Tobias has too much going on in his life. He’s finally admitting to himself he doesn’t want to go to medical school and he doesn’t understand how Sullivan makes him feel. When the relationship suddenly becomes sexual neither guy really knows where to take it from there. They don’t communicate their needs and feelings well. Then the cases Sullivan is working on begin to overlap. An old missing persons case is intertwined with Tobias’ case to find Ghost. As Sullivan and Tobias begin to piece everything together they don’t like what they find.

I loved this book. It was the kind of book I wanted to sink into and not come out of. I’m saying this as someone who usually hates when characters fail to communicate, but everything worked well together here. Tobias’ fears of abandonment meshed well with Sullivan’s fears of rejection to create a plausible enough reason for these two to not effectively communicate with each other. I feel I should add it’s that we were shown, repeatedly, these guys had these fears that it worked. Had we simply been told once I’d have been rolling my eyes. This was an excellent example of craft working together with story to make something better than each could have been alone.

This was an interesting example of a multi-cultural romance. Tobias was white and adopted by Haitian immigrants. I’ve never read a Haitian character before. I should say, I’ve never read a Haitian character outside a paranormal story where the character was assembled wholly out of religious and ethnic stereotypes. Tobias’ family were just people. They had some problems and some things they did well.

I didn’t read the first book in this series. I had no trouble understanding what was going on. I’m sure I would have picked up on things and I suspect I would have had a richer and more nuanced experience reading, but I still really loved this book. I enjoyed reading both Sullivan and Tobias, I enjoyed them together, and I felt their relationship worked. Even the balance between the romance and the suspense was good. This is definitely a book you should pick up even if you haven’t read the first in the series.

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