Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: From the moment former LAPD detective Bobby Dawson spots Ichiro Tokugawa, he knows the man is trouble. And not just because the much younger Japanese inker is hot, complicated, and pushes every one of Bobby’s buttons. No, Ichi is trouble because he’s Cole McGinnis’s younger brother and off-limits in every possible way. And Bobby knows that even before Cole threatens to kill him for looking Ichi’s way. But despite his gut telling him Ichi is bad news, Bobby can’t stop looking… or wanting.
Ichi was never one to play by the rules. Growing up in Japan as his father’s heir, he’d been bound by every rule imaginable until he had enough and walked away from everything to become his own man. Los Angeles was supposed to be a brief pitstop before he moved on, but after connecting with his American half-brothers, it looks like a good city to call home for a while—if it weren’t for Bobby Dawson.
Bobby is definitely a love-them-and-leave-them type, a philosophy Ichi wholeheartedly agrees with. Family was as much of a relationship as Ichi was looking for, but something about the gruff and handsome Bobby Dawson that makes Ichi want more.
Much, much more.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Ford and have followed this series from the first book. I have loved Bobby from the get go as he fearlessly follows his best friend Cole into each and every ridiculous situation he finds himself in. He has Cole’s back and their relationship is solid. But that bond is tested in this book as we finally get to know Bobby a little better.
A few books back, Cole and his brother Mike learned that their mother hadn’t really died as their father had told them, but instead had moved back to Japan where she’d married a second time and had another son, Ichiro Tokugawa. Ichiro, who grew up knowing he had two brothers in the United States, decides to head to Los Angeles to surprise his brothers and hopefully begin a relationship with them. It’s tough going for a while, but they find their way and Ichi decides to stay in L.A. and open a tattoo shop. There have been hints to the attraction between Bobby and Ichi, but Bobby knows that his involvement with Ichi could hurt his relationship with Cole and he’s not willing to risk it. But the more time he spends with Ichi, the more he wants him and little by little Ichi’s constant presence begins to break down the walls and make Bobby see him not as Cole’s little brother, but as a man who wants him back.
Down and Dirty’s timeline overlaps a bit with the previous book, Dirty Deeds, as Cole continues to look for Sheila Pinelli who shot Cole’s lover Jae. But while we revisit a few scenes from the previous book, the focus is truly on Bobby and Ichi as they try to find a way to be together and not hurt their family and friends. We learn a lot more about Bobby in here and his story is a little heartbreaking. It explains why he avoided relationships and never allowed himself to get close to anyone, including his son. Ford’s emotionally tinged words pulled at my heart as we watch Bobby fight the feelings he’s developing for Ichi with everything he’s got. He thinks he’s a bad bet and he tries to tell Ichi over and over. But their connection is real and it’s not long before they give in.
In true Rhys Ford style, shit hits the fan big time when Cole and Mike find out that bad boy Bobby has started something up with their baby brother Ichi. And as we’ve come to expect, we can count on Cole’s secretary/momma, Claudia, to set everyone straight. When Cole finds out about Ichi and Bobby and thinks he’s the last to know, all hell breaks loose in the middle of backyard bbq at Cole’s place:
“She (Claudia) stomped across the porch, opened the screen door, then fit a key into the office’s front door. Unlocking it with a twist, she growled at Cole. “You go undo that alarm. Ichiro and Bobby, you two head in and find a chair to plant yourselves in. We’re going to have this out right now.”
[…] Holding his hand out, Bobby gave Ichi a warm smile. “Come on, Sunshine. Let’s go get our asses chewed out.”
I loved watching Bobby change from the gruff, insecure man who survived on one-night-stands to a man who was willing to open his heart to love. Ichi had less of a transformation, in my opinion, though he did have to deal with some leftover daddy issues. It was satisfying to see these two get together. Ms. Ford threw enough hints, but I wasn’t sure it was gonna actually come to pass.
I loved that in this story there was a little less of the crazy that seems to follow Cole around and more of a focus on Bobby and Ichi and the changes their relationship had on them as individuals as well as the way it strengthened the friendships and familial bonds. If you have not read the previous books, you might feel like this was an insta-love relationship but it’s really not. There was always something there. They just had to get past their own obstacles and accept what was right in front of them and in their hearts.
We finally get closure on the story arc over the prior two books with the capture of Sheila Pinelli. Though I am still unclear on a few things from Cole’s previous relationship and the incident with his then police partner Ben. Perhaps everything will come full circle in book six, the final book in this series, Dirty Heart.