Title: Hard Line
Author: Sidney Bell
Series: The Woodbury Boys #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 4/2/2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, M/M Bisexual, M/M Thriller/Suspense Romance, M/M BDSM Romance, Romantic Suspense
Page Count: 480
Heat Level: 4.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
“Bell writes a meaty romance that you can’t put down, and it’s a worthy addition to the M/M contemporary romance genre.” —RT Book Reviews on Loose Cannon (Woodbury Boys #1)
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.
Sometimes you can tell when a book is carefully crafted with superb attention to details. I’ve seen it in this author’s other books, but the nuances are especially apparent in this title. Hard Line is the second book in Miss Bell’s Woodbury Boys series. Although it does feature a new main couple and could be read as a standalone, the continued story arcs from the previous book would make it difficult to follow some of the plotlines. Hard Line picks up 8 months after the end of Loose Cannon and details Tobias’s story. Once again I was bowled over by the depth of the characters, backstories, and current plots and conflicts. There were a lot of details to follow but I was glued to my e-reader and I really appreciated how the books tied together.
Miss Bell always does complex characters well, but Tobias and Sullivan surprised me a few times with their depth and some hidden aspects to their personalities and histories. The romance between these two ignited fairly quickly, but the substantial amount of development within the relationship and for Tobias as an individual ensured it never felt rushed, shallow, or hinted at insta-love. I definitely hadn’t anticipated the BDSM element, and while I generally don’t read within that trope, the author wrote those scenes with such emphasis on the characters that I never felt a tinge of disinterest or out of my depth. In fact, the chemistry between Tobias and Sullivan ignited my e-reader more than a couple times.
Beyond the romance, Hard Line is a complex, suspense-driven plot involving the enigmatic secondary character, Ghost. There were multiple twists that kept me guessing and trying to connect the dots, good action scenes, and a satisfying resolution. Featuring a measured, but intense pace, this book made for a great read that was incredibly addicting. I think fans of hurt-comfort or slow-build romantic suspense books will really enjoy this title and series. And after the few more glimpses we got of Ghost in this story, I’m definitely eager to see what the author has in store for the Woodbury Boys next.