Other Reviewers: Goodreads
There is no hiding or denying that I love Rhys Ford’s writing. No matter what series, I tend to enjoy it. She manages to write in imagery; the opening scene is usually some sort of action hook and we are invested in the characters by the end of the first chapter. In Down and Dirty, we get more of a sexually intense exploration rather than a Jason Bourne type thriller.
As always with my Advance Reader Copy blog posts, I try to be as unbiased as possible and give an impartial review.
This is not a short series, and Down and Dirty is book 5 in the Cole McGinnis Series. The majority of these books focus on Cole and Jae, but Bobby and Ichiro have been strong secondary characters that as readers, we wanted to learn more. I always found Bobby intriguing and knew there was so much more to his character.
First things first, you MUST read the rest of the series to get the full power of this novel. Down and Dirty happens in the same time-line as the previous book; you will not necessarily be “spoiled” but I do fear that you would learn something that did not want to know if you had not read Dirty Deeds.
This book picks up during book 4 of the series Dirty Deeds. Bobby Dawson is Cole McGinnis’ best friend, someone who has always been there for him. He is a former cop, who after he retired came out as gay and has been making his way through scores of twinks vowing never to settle down. But everything changes for him when he meets Cole’s brother Ichiro. Ichiro is captivating and challenges Bobby to want more in his live than just existing. But can Bobby and Ichiro put their personal experiences behind them to find a happy future together?
I admit that Bobby has almost overshadowed Cole in the past when he was in a scene for me. There was just something about him that intrigued me. Maybe it’s that older, “daddy” aspect with him, I just always wanted to see more of him and find his motivation. What we learn about him is that he is an aging, hardened male warrior who fights to remain in the prime of his life by punishing himself:
The man definitely spend time pushing his body to its limits. It showed in every long plane of muscle sculpted over his broad shoulders and flat belly. Bobby’s thick thighs rippled with power when he braced himself and pushed Ichiro down onto the bed, his tongue licking his top lip as if he were debating where to start on Ichiro’s body.
I feel badly for Bobby. He struggles with his personal history and is afraid to move forward. It is because of his attraction and curiously about Ichiro that he is willing to try to change.
So much that we see of Ichiro revolves around his tattoos. They are his armor:
“I’m covered in bad ideas.” Ichi sat up all the way, straddling Bobby’s hips. Sucking his sleeves back, he bared the ink embedded under his skin. “See these? They’re supposed to be my idea of running in a burning building, because what I’ve done to myself is everything my family hates. The symbols, the ink — everything. But it’s my decision, and I took the consequences.”
Ichi has committed the first step to finding himself: making life decisions for independence rather than allowing others to change him. Yet, he has only altered his cover, not the book inside.
No matter how much you attempt an outer metamorphosis to forget the past, you need to change the core within to move forward. We see both of this in how Bobby and Ichiro change their form. Bobby punishes himself for his past by brutally working out making his body perfection. But at what cost? For Ichiro, he leaves his father and Japan behind him by painting himself with a new skin:
His tattoos were less a rebellion and more of a birth, the wash of ink marking his break from his familial placenta, and he’d thrust himself gasping into a world where he’d wear who he was on his skin.
Yet, while both men have moved on in one way, they forgot to change the center. It is not until they see each other’s struggles that they admit to themselves they need to change on the inside. Luckily they have each other to show themselves the way.
Rhys Ford’s writing style is always her strength. As readers, we see it in her action scenes and humorous dialogue. Her humor:
“Please, call me Charles. Mr. Howell makes me sound like I should be stuck on an island with a bunch of incompetent sailors and a bevy of pretty women.”
I think in this case, I might have been missing the strong action scenes.
What could be better?
While I truly did enjoy this book, it did feel like something was missing. Maybe I am spoiled with the action scenes from the other books. This one revolved around the action of the last book, but we really do not see much of it. In a way, that is a good thing, we would get bored if we were just getting a rehash of the previous book.
If there is not a lot of external conflict, then to provide some level of suspense, we need to have some internal conflict. We get this with our theme, yet I felt there was a level of “oomf” missing. Maybe that is the danger of writing a book about secondary characters and making them primary in their own book.
Overall, this is a great addition to the series and it was needed. I wanted to know Bobby and Ichi’s story, which we got. The way the story ended, we still have some conflict to explore. Bobby and Ichi certainly could have a second book to continue this story arch. I think that if you liked the other books in the series, you will enjoy this one. Just remember this is less action and more love story; well a hot, sexy love story!