Bobby Dawson knows he needs to keep his distance from Ichiro Tokugawa. Ichi is the brother of Bobby’s best friend Cole, and Cole is clear that Bobby needs to be hands off with his little brother. Bobby knows he is no good for Ichiro. Bobby has a past that includes a failed marriage, a disastrous relationship, and endless stream of hookups with young twinks. He knows Ichi deserves better, and he also knows he can’t give it to him. But that doesn’t stop Bobby from craving the gorgeous young tattoo artist.
Ichi definitely shares Bobby’s attraction, but he too knows how much Cole disapproves of the match. The men try their best to keep their distance, but the pull between them is way too strong. When Ichiro is upset and needs comfort, it is Bobby’s arms he runs to. And finally Ichi and Bobby realize that staying apart is just not working, and give in to the feelings they have for one another. It turns out that things between the two go much smoother than either expected. But of course, no one has told Cole yet. And Bobby’s son doesn’t even know he is gay. The two men are finding a surprising connection and developing a real relationship, but they must have the courage to finally be open about their feelings for each other.
I am a big fan of Ford’s fabulous Cole McGinnis series, so I have loved Bobby since we first met him early in that series. I have been really hoping for Bobby’s story, even more so when we started to get indications Bobby would end up with Ichiro. So I was super excited for this spin off story that focuses on the relationship between the two men.
As much as we have gotten to know Bobby over the original series, we are always in Cole’s POV there. So we learn about Bobby through Cole’s eyes and as a side character. Here we get alternating POVs between Bobby and Ichi and it really lets us get to know the men much better. We have always known Bobby is all about the hookup, but here we learn much more about his past failed relationships and the total blame he places on himself for both. It becomes much clearer why he shies away from anything serious, and why he doesn’t even believe in his own ability to have a relationship with Ichi. Ichiro is a newer character to the series, and again, we have seen him only through Cole’s eyes. But here we learn much more about him, about the conflict he has between his traditional and domineering father versus the person he really wants to be. Ford does a really nice job here taking characters we know (and in my case, love), and really developing them further so we know what motivates them and what they are hiding beneath their confident exteriors.
What I think is particularly interesting here is the way being in Bobby and Ichi’s POVs in turn illuminates Cole and Jae as well. It was really fascinating to see them through outside eyes, especially Cole who has always been our POV character. Cole and Jae play a big role in this story and I loved seeing the interaction from an outsider’s view. We see how much Bobby and Ichi love Cole and how hard it is to see him put himself in danger all the time. It is a nice way to really get a feel for their relationships with Cole and how important he is to Bobby and Ichi.
So as I said, we have known that there is a connection between Bobby and Ichi from the main series and here we really see that tension play out. Early on, we can just feel the connection between these two guys and how much they want one another. As always Ford does a great job building that heat, especially as these guys fight their feelings before finally giving in. I think Ford gets the balance right here between them worrying about Cole’s feelings, but also recognizing they are adults who need to make their own decisions. And for Claudia fans, she gets a great scene here where she makes them all get their shit together and she is awesome as usual.
Just to clarify here, Down and Dirty is basically a spin off story featuring side characters from the main Cole McGinnis series. As I said, Cole and Jae play a big role here, and in fact, this book essentially overlaps the timeline of the latest Cole McGinnis book, Dirty Deeds. Throughout this book, we get connections with things that are going on in the main storyline within Dirty Deeds. I’ll be honest that I didn’t always remember exactly what was happening in that previous book since I read it nine months ago. But for the most part, I was able to remember the gist of what was happening as we see Ichi and Bobby interacting with Cole and Jae for events that happened in that book. Given that, I think this book is best read by those already familiar with the Cole McGinnis series. I think you need to know the relationships between all four of these men to really get the most out of this book, as well as to know the basic plot of the series. I’ll also mention that this book spoils the ending of Dirty Laundry as well as parts of Dirty Deeds, so I would be sure you are caught up with those books before reading this one.
So for me this book is like a gift for Bobby and Ichi fans. To be honest, the plot is fairly simple here. We are basically seeing these guys hot for one another, ultimately getting together, and then facing telling people. Although we dip in and out of the larger mystery, this story is not a mystery/suspense like the others in the series. So this book is definitely not as intense or meaty as the other stories in the series, and I did feel like the ending conflict relies a little too much on a very unlikely coincidence. But again, for me this story is all about giving fans that relationship that we have been waiting for, and on that Ford really delivers. I loved seeing Bobby and Ichi finally getting together, loved learning more about both of these men, and loved getting to spend more time with Jae and Cole. So overall this one made me very happy and it is a must read for fans of Cole McGinnis.