Hard Line, by Sidney Bell
Series: The Woodbury Boys, Book 2
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 2, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
Part of Series
Warning for non-explicit references to violence against children
While this can be read as a standalone novel, I suggest reading book one for context and deeper understanding of the issues these MCs are facing.
You know when you start a series and at the end of book one you hope really hard that two characters from that book will get together in the next? Yeah, I know that feeling too. And do you know when the second book comes out and those two characters are not together, are not going to get together, and all your dreams are shattered? Yeah, that’s another feeling I’m familiar with. But, do you know that when all of that happens, and you read that second book, and you see that the author made a better decision and your dreams were just dumb? Well, that is what happened to me with Hard Line. And I’ll admit, it took me a while to see it. I needed to be convinced that Tobias and Ghost were not right for each other. But when it started to happen, when I saw just how much Tobias needed someone else, someone different, I was so happy.
Tobias is not who I thought he was in book one of The Woodbury Boys series. When I think back to that book now, I realize I really don’t now where my opinions of him came from. He’s still a fierce and loyal friend. He’s still that guy who could be counted on, dutiful son, hard worker, smart and ambitious. But the new things about him that I learned in Hard Line include him being very stressed out. Tobias has a weight on his shoulders, expectations and plans for the future that he just might not be 100% sure about. He’s also got some serious kink… that was fun to experience.
When Tobias meets Sullivan, I was not sure about them. Sullivan is kind of an ass, but he was also put in a position of working with Tobias and finding Ghost that is not ideal. This is where blackmail and manipulation comes in… something else I had no idea that Tobias was good at.
When Tobias and Sullivan find that they share an interest in kink, their relationship takes a turn. Honestly, I was worried about this for a little bit, but I ended up loving the power exchanged between them. Their kink got pretty heavy at times, but not so heavy that I feel like it should be an issue for most readers. They had to communicate to develop clear boundaries and that communication was key to them becoming friends as well as lovers. I loved them together. Sullivan became a hero in my eyes, and Toby his perfect match.
Something to note is Toby and his family. Toby was adopted by a Haitian family and I’m not sure I remember that being mentioned in the first book of this series. The family, his adoption, and his relationship with his parents plays a big part of this story, and while I loved it, I felt it did take away a little bit from that hunt for Ghost and everything I’d been looking forward to. I came to terms with that, and I ended up really loving not only his siblings, but his parents too. They love their son something fierce and they’re prepared to do anything to help him in his goals and life.
This book is not what I expected it to be, but that’s okay because it turns out that the way the story goes is better than where I wanted it to. At times I wished for something different, and an ending that did not leave me hanging, but as far as the story goes between Toby and Sullivan, I couldn’t be more pleased… or more ready for book three. Crossing my fingers that the wait won’t be long for Ghost’s book.
Sidney Bell lives in the drizzly Pacific Northwest with her amazingly supportive husband. She received her MFA degree in Creative Writing in 2010, considered aiming for the Great American Novel, and then promptly started writing fanfiction instead. More realistic grown-ups eventually convinced her to try writing something more fiscally responsible, though, which is how we ended up here. When she’s not writing, she’s playing violent video games, yelling at the television during hockey games, or supporting her local library by turning books in late.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.