Tag Team Review: Rough Trade (The Woodbury Boys #3) by Sidney Bell

Quick-witted hustler Ghost is no stranger to living dangerously; survival has always been the name of the game.

He’s just always gone it alone.

Now he’s got the wrong people breathing down his neck, and the only way out demands placing his trust in the unlikeliest of heroes: Duncan Rook, a gruff cop whose ethics are as solid as his body.

Cozying up to a criminal is hardly what Duncan’s reputation on the force needs—especially when that criminal is temptation personified. Ghost is Duncan’s polar opposite, and the last person he expected to fall for.

So then why does every imaginable scenario for taking down their common enemy end with Ghost in his arms?


Adam - 4 Hearts

I’ll admit that I’ve been very iffy on Ghost. In fact, I don’t think I even liked him much before book 3.

The way Ghost treated Church and Tobias. His disappearing act. His attitude. It just didn’t sit right with me.

But I am now a reformed man. I will root for Ghost - and Duncan - till the end of my days.

‘Rough Trade’ picks up where things left off in book 2. Ghost is stuck between Mama and Spratt, and his time is running up quickly.

As far as the crime/action plot goes, this book hits the ground running. The danger that Ghost is in is imminent from the get-go, and it never really slows down.

The twists and turns kept me very entertained. I’m a sucker for a good action plot, and ‘Rough Trade’ did not disappoint.

It’s got all the corrupt cops, crime lords (or, in this case, ladies), shoot outs, and close calls I could ask for.

But the real star of this book isn’t the crime angle, it’s the slow-build relationship between Ghost and Duncan.

Ghost’s predicament brings him to Duncan’s doorstep. And while Duncan knows that Ghost is nothing but trouble, his unshakeable morals won’t let him turn away.

The two men are complete opposites. Duncan is a by-the-book officer of the law. Ghost has spent his entire life trampling that book into the ground.

And yet these two are helpless to the web that slowly weaves them together.

But it isn’t easy. Ghost has lived a life of trauma, and fuck, did his backstory ever hurt. His only protection has been to build a shell of deceit and manipulation around himself. Duncan sees right through it, and won’t settle for anything less than the man he knows is underneath Ghost’s exterior.

It was almost painful to see Ghost’s struggle as he slowly fell for Duncan. But when he finally let himself believe that he deserved something good in life, Ghost showed up in a big way.

My only niggle: I thought Duncan could have been a tad more considerate of why Ghost was the way he was. But even so, there’s never any doubt that Duncan loves and accepts all of Ghost’s pointy edges.

It takes a lot of hard work, but Ghost and Duncan more than earn their happy ever after.

Overall, this was a great conclusion to the Woodbury Boys series. If you’re looking for romance, crime, and complex characters, give this series a try!

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰ - 5 Hearts

This book kind of wrecked me and I don't know what to say that wouldn't be considered spoilery, so I'm just going to spout some gibberish about my feelings and hopefully there will be something useful amongst the gibberish.

Gibberish with copious graphics. Like I do.

Rough Trade picks up where Hard Line left off and we finally FINALLY get inside Ghost's head. He's on the run and the action plot line takes up quite a bit of this story. He and Duncan join forces to try to figure out how to extricate Ghost from this situation with minimal collateral damage and without breaking the law. Parts of their hiding out I did think dragged but when it picked up it was fun and kept me on the edge of my seat. However, throughout all of it Bell developed a relationship sturdy enough to withstand a Cat-5 hurricane.

Ghost, for me, has been largely enigmatic. I assumed some things about his past that contributed to shaping him and unfortunately I was right about those things. Ghost has survived his own personal hell. (Trigger for mentions of childhood sexual abuse.) That sort of upbringing necessitated a certain tenacity and a set of survival skills that make him somewhat unpredictable; they are second nature to him. Unlearning them is no easy feat. The complexity of Ghost cannot be overstated.

What blew me away... well, a bunch of things actually, but once Ghost starts dealing with his past, some of that dialogue is stunning and the insightfulness of it dazzled me. Ghost's honesty stole my breath a couple times. At one point I was even talking to my kindle! Like a nutbag.

It's no secret that I (along with many others) have been enamored with Ghost from the start but after being inside his head, it's official. I love him. I never ever expected him to be funny. What a surprise that was. I cackled repeatedly at his snarky and highlighted like a fiend. The banter between he and Duncan was a delight.

Honestly, I also never expected Ghost to fall for a cop who's a giant either. Were Duncan a different sort of person this thing between them would've never gotten off the ground, but Duncan is eerily intuitive when it comes to Ghost. How he just knew not to do certain things and to do others made me respect him. The way that subtly changes the longer they know each other is what made me love him, love them. He is a positive influence and a caretaker at heart but mostly importantly, he believes in Ghost which is exactly what Ghost needs making his size a source of comfort rather than a source of intimidation.

I read romance all the time and there are a lot of phenomenal writers out there who can convince me that their couple are soulmates or of their compatibility or of their longevity, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ghost and Duncan will never leave. Neither of them are built that way with Duncan being steadfast to the core coupled Ghost's loyalty and trust issues makes them rock solid in my mind. Maybe all their days won't be sunshine and daisies but they won't leave. They've fought too hard for each other for that to happen. This, I know. And as a romance reader, there's not a lot that beats that feeling. However, there is very little sex content. It just doesn't fit their narrative and I appreciate that Bell stayed true to that.

Instead we're treated to a multitude of quiet moments that meticulously construct a manifest intimacy between them that I found poignant. Slow burns aren't always my cup of tea but the way in which this particular relationship developed made them necessary to each other and that for a squishy marshmallow like me is what brings me back to the genre again and again.

I freely admit that I am biased when it comes to Sidney Bell simply because I feel a sort of kindredness with her writes. She is wordy. I am wordy. She seems to be fascinated with the human psyche as am I. Sometimes that sort of thing doesn't work for people but for me it does. All the words have a purpose: character development. She crawls inside her characters and turns them inside out, showing them warts and all. Neither Ghost nor Duncan are perfect. They make mistakes with each other, they have weaknesses and blind spots but there was never an instance wherein I didn't understand exactly why they chose to do what they did, both the good and the bad. Those choices are what made them fully realized characters, characters that will remain in my memory for the foreseeable future.

So, if you enjoy slow burn romances between protagonists who are polar opposites that are fantastically well developed by a highly talented writer, give this series a try. All the Woodbury boys have been terrific and Rough Trade is not a standalone.

ARCs were provided by NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.