Tobias is working hard on his premed degree. He lives with his family and has always followed the rules. He had a setback those years ago when his parents sent him to a treatment center, but Tobias is coping, mostly. When his best friend, Ghost, is missing, Tobias knows immediately he will do whatever it takes to find him. He also knows he needs help and when he encounters PI Sullivan Tate, Tobias feels a little amateur blackmailing will help his cause.
Sullivan is tired of serving subpoenas and is ready for a real case. When his boss agrees to give him a decades old unsolvable case, Sullivan immerses himself in the task. When he meets Tobias, he has little choice but to form an alliance with the college student. Working through the details of a case that keeps intersecting on itself has the men spending a lot of time together, and when their interests become more than professional, it could send the men down just one more slippery slope. Sullivan knows Tobias is not the guy he should be fooling around with, but when their kinks align, it’s impossible for Sullivan to resist.
Through days of stakeouts and nights of exploring their D/s relationship, Sullivan and Tobias have to come to terms with their need for each other, all the while against a ticking clock. Because Ghost is still missing, and the answers could certainly bring all kinds of danger to their door.
It’s been almost a year since I read, Loose Cannon, the first book in the Woodbury Boys series. I was really looking forward to Ghost’s full story, which will be the third book, and anticipated that Tobias’ story and Hard Line would be a stepping stone to get to that book three, but that was not at all the case. While I knew there was more to Tobias than we were shown in the first book, this story came together so well for me.
We met Tobias in the first book when he was a resident at the treatment facility and it was where he met Ghost and Church. We never knew what sent Tobias to the facility and here his story is unraveled. This book is incredibly layered with both Tobias’ personal story as well as the larger story involving Ghost and the Russians. It’s so well layered and it’s not easy to talk about specific plot points. Tobias’ story goes back to his family and the expectations he has for himself and the expectations he thinks they have for him. He has spent his whole life preparing to be a doctor like his parents and it’s all spiraled out of control on him.
Tobias and Sullivan are a study in contrasts, but Sullivan is the perfect balm to this soul. The meeting is by chance and not under the best of circumstances. Sullivan is trying to prove himself in the PI world and he has a methodical work ethic that helps him connect links that weren’t seen before. He also is struggling with his sexual needs as he likes to be dominant and likes to be the cause of the pain that his partner needs. This backfired on him in his last relationship and he hasn’t dated since then and believes Tobias is not at all what he needs, but Tobias surprises him at every turn.
The personal relationship between the men does not start out as the focus of the book. Sullivan and Tobias are each searching for someone and those paths connect and intersect and overlap in a well-crafted way that makes Bell’s writing style shine through. Ghost has been an exceedingly intriguing character since he was first introduced and even when he’s off page for the first part of the book and only being talked about, it’s a credit to the writing skill that he still remains fascinating.
Sullivan and Tobias go through a lot and share a lot and while the romance isn’t always the focus, ultimately their relationship was well placed within the story. They have their own sense of romance and are able to create a relationship that gives them both everything they need. While we are able to get a great feel for what it is that they need, the BDSM descriptions of their time together was on the milder side.
Hard Line is not a book that I would suggest reading as a standalone as the larger storyline really dictates the entire series. The relationship between Tobias and Sullivan is in a great place at the end, but there is still much more to come with Ghost and the larger storyline. Sidney Bell offers great characters with an absorbing plot that made this book difficult to put down and I am definitely ready for the story to continue.