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.
Hard Line is the second book in Sidney Bell's "The Woodbury Boys" series. In my opinion, you will get the most out of this story if you have read book 1, Loose Canon, first. In book 1, you get a lot of background on the boys, especially Ghost, how it is that Gost got himself into his current predicament. Loose Canon is my favorite of the series, so far, too, though I enjoyed this one quite a lot as well.
Tobias Benton is the adopted son of Haitian immigrants. Of the three friends from Woodbury, Tobias seems like the one most likely to be successful. His adopted parents are doctors, he has several siblings, also adopted, he's always had food and clothes and education. But he's always put a lot pf pressure on himself and has abandonment issues and anxiety. Don't think for a second that just because he has had some privilege growing up that he doesn't have problems, because he does. He's a little bit broken, and he's afraid if he doesn't meet the expectations people have for him, that they will leave. Tobias broke my heart just a little bit with that.
Sullivan Tate, conversely, is confident, and worldly. He has tattoos and a mohawk, so he looks like trouble, but he's a stand up guy who would do anything for those he cares about. He's intelligent, bored easily, and wants to do more than just serve up subpoenas at his PI job. He's desperate to really show what he can do. And though he hasn't practiced in a while, because of an ex that didn't understand, Sullivan is a Dom who has finally found his match.
I enjoyed Hard Line a lot. The pairing, the mystery, the sex, were all like candy to me. The relationship did move a bit faster than I often like, but it worked for me here. What started out as a fairly adversarial relationship quickly becomes something more symbiotic and with each step they take, they are more in sync.
The mystery is a melding of two different events - Ghost's disappearance a couple weeks prior and a 20+ year old mystery of a missing (and likely dead) girl. I liked how the two mysteries merged and I liked how determined Tobias was to help Sullivan investigate. Tobias doesn't have the experience needed, and he's a touch impulsive, but Sullivan keeps him in line...mostly.
All in all, I liked Hard Line almost as much as I liked the first book, and I'm left really wanting Ghost to find his happy, too. That one will be a challenge, I have no doubt, because he is one broken boy.
ARC of Hard Line was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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