Hard Line is a taboo yet sweet tale that introduces us to Private Investigator Sullivan and premed student Tobias. With a whole lot of insecurities and secret desires between them, the relationship is bound to be beautiful.
HARD LINE by Sidney Bell
Series: The Woodbury Boys #2 Publication Date: April 2, 2018 Publisher: Harlequin Carina Press Genre: LGBT, Contemporary Romance Purchase: Amazon Source: NetGalley Story Rating: 5/ 5 Romance Rating: 5/5
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.
So, I got this book on a whim. The cover, you get that, right? I mean, I read the blurb. Well, I skimmed it and saw “kink” … “darkest urges” … “impossible to resist” … “nights fulfilling their respective fantasies.” I was expecting a quick dirty read.
I needed a quick dirty read. Work has been absolutely horrific the last couple of weeks. Something about spring that makes people depressed. I mean, it’s not *something* I can talk for hours about why but we’re here for book reviews. All I’m trying to say is work has taken a lot out of me lately. It happens every year. I know it will happen, but it never gets easier. Anyway, I wanted to lose myself in a quick, sexy, feel-good story. Let me tell you, I made the wrong choice with this one!
This was a super emotional, engaging and meaningful 480 page long monster of a book I couldn’t put down. It took me 4 days, 2 pints of Birthday Cake Halo Top ice cream (not Ben & Jerrys because I’m making healthy choices), and 37 cute kitten videos to get through it.
This book deals with real issues everybody can relate to. Who hasn’t worried about making their parents proud, felt the crushing weight of having to put the expectations of other people in above your wants and needs? Is there anyone who hasn’t worried about telling their partner what they really want? The characters aren’t damaged, they didn’t have traumatic childhoods full of abuse and neglect. They were relatable they could have been anybody. Heck, they could have been me. I didn’t want to relate to the characters, but I guess it would be absurd to fault an author for writing engaging and relatable characters.
This book doesn’t disappoint as far as steamy scenes go. I often find myself uneasy when I read BDSM scenes and I’d always just written it off as a by-product of reading about things that might be considered taboo. However, this book had things that would be taboo, even more so than I would typically pickup, and I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all while reading it. Which lead to some interesting self-reflection.
I have no problem tearing non-BDSM contemporary romances apart when they forget about consent because that always makes me super uncomfortable. Thinking about it, the parts of many BSDM books that make me uncomfortable are the parts where one person is reluctant but they do it because it will make the other person happy. I’m not sure why I’ve let it slide for so long but I don’t think I will anymore.
As much as I enjoy reading dirty books, consent is huge for me. The characters can be as kinky and taboo as they want and I’ll tolerate it if there’s consent. I’ve DNF’d a couple books because without consent it’s not sex, it’s rape and I’m not going to read that. You would not believe the crap I get from some authors when I tell them I will not be reviewing their book for that reason. They tell me consent would have ruined the mood, the characters obviously enjoyed it, or (my personal favorite) they got over it, so why can’t you. Seriously!
This leads to my absolute favorite part of this book. The author established consent in every scene. It didn’t feel forced; it didn’t ruin the mood; it was actually quite beautiful and enjoyable to read. Sullivan and Tobias were such well-developed characters, and I appreciated that they were both given their own personalities with insecurities and passions that didn’t necessarily correlate with who they were in the bedroom. I loved the way they were both vulnerable, and the way they supported and accepted each other both in and out of the bedroom.
Hard Line was an amazing book. It was an emotional roller coaster, but so good. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading love stories but might be interested in exploring the naughtier side of the genre. Parts of this book were downright filthy, but it was handled in a super respectful way that made it feel sweet.