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Dirty Laundry - Rhys Ford

We’re back for another joint review! Wheee! This time Leigh and I will be talking about Ford’s latest and greatest, DIRTY LAUNDRY! Let’s get started!

Phew! DIRTY LAUNDRY put readers through the ringer with a big ol’ handful of serious angst – much more than was in KISS or SECRET. What are your thoughts on that?

Annie - These days it seems that angst ridden books are my best friends! I welcome the angst and thought it brought so much to the book, making me connect with Jae and Cole on a deeper level.

Leigh - I completely agree, Annie! I LOVED it! I love when a couple isn’t perfect from the word “go,” and they have obstacles to overcome and bumpy roads to travel. For me, that just makes their HEA sooooo much sweeter in the end. And Lord knows, poor Cole and Jae definitely have their obstacles and bumps, but the fact that they still find comfort in each other’s arms at the end of the day just makes my heart swell with happiness. But yes, the angst was really thick in DIRTY LAUNDRY, and there were moments that left me wondering how everything would work out, but Ford handled it beautifully. The issue that hit these boys hard is one that has been culminating since DIRTY KISS: Jae’s family learning that he is gay, and Jae accepting himself as gay and no longer living a lie. It is not an easy issue, especially because of Jae’s Korean heritage where being gay is sorely frowned upon, and my heart broke for Jae, and of course for Jae and Cole as a couple. But alas, I think the angst was necessary, and it just made the book that much better because of it.

Cole and Jae are an awesome couple, but still trying to find their way as an established couple. How do you think they developed in DIRTY LAUNDRY?

Annie - I’ve always thought that Cole and Jae’s relationship was a complex one. The beauty of it is that this is a series and Ford has time to really allow readers to discover both characters, creating conflict and exploring emotions that work in building the romance. What happens in DIRTY LAUNDRY tests that romance and though it’s a rough ride, it’s worth it!

Leigh - Yes, it was definitely a rough road for these boys, but I think that they handled everything thrown at them, and I loved the growth and development of their relationship as a result. Things were tough, but with perseverance, love, and each other, they were able to take their relationship to the next step, and it just solidified it and made them that much stronger as a couple.

What do you love most about Cole, and what do you love most about Jae? Why do you think they work so well together?

Annie - I love that Cole is a little prickly (it cracks me up!) and Jae is a little haunted. But my favorite thing about them is actually how male they are. The Asian influences are heavy in this series and certain cultures are not so accepting of M/M relationships. It’s just one of the problems that Cole and Jae are faced with. I just love how they love each other and how they try to show each other their love without seeming to vulnerable. There’s just something endearing and heartbreakingly beautiful about that. It’s how they are with each other that gets me.

Leigh - So well said, Annie!! Let’s see if I can do this without writing a book, lol! There are so many things that I absolutely love about Cole. Primarily, though, I love his inner strength. Life has dealt him a tough hand, especially when his work partner shot him and then killed his life partner. And while that really hollowed him out, he continued to live and move on and started a P.I. business. A couple years later he meets Jae, and what was once hollow due to loss began to fill for him, and we’ve seen his strength only grow as a result. And it is with that strength that he does whatever he needs to be there for Jae even when times get so very tough. He never gives up, and I just love that he fights so hard for that love and relationship and refuses to let go. In addition to that, I love his humor, snark, and his gruff personality. He constantly keeps me laughing, especially as he is always thinking with a certain part of his body, even during the most inopportune times.

What I love most about Jae is his ability to maintain a certain, almost peaceful, calmness about himself, even in the worst of times. And this trait of his, I think, flows to Cole and helps center him when he needs it most. Jae handles Cole so perfectly, accepting him for who he is, but also not putting up with crap, either. He knows what Cole needs and he provides that to and for him. Really, I just love these two as a couple – they totally complete each other. *le sigh*

Who is your favorite secondary character in the series and why?

Annie - I love Bobby. He’s simply the best. I vote for a Bobby spin off. LOL

Leigh - YES! Definitely Bobby!! I sooooo can’t wait to meet the person who is gonna settle him down. Word on the street is that we did meet Bobby’s HEA in DIRTY LAUNDRY, and I just hope that it might be who I really want it to be *cough*Ichi*cough*. A close second for favorite character is Neko. LOVE that cat!!

Rhys Ford is known for her exceptional beginnings and endings in all of her books. DIRTY LAUNDRY was no exception. Without giving anything away, what did you think about THAT ending???

Annie - Ford is such a talented writer. You always get great a reaction. The ending caused a slew of emotions in me, going from “Uh oh” straight to heartbreak and WTF land. Things are left unresolved, but that makes me want the next book, DIRTY DEEDS badly.

Leigh - You said that perfectly Annie! I seriously had to pick my jaw up off of my Kindle in order to continue reading! WOW…just WOW!! Ford doesn’t pull any punches, and she hit us readers hard but oh so good!!! I will say this – thank God for epilogues!!

Overall, what are your thoughts and impressions on DIRTY LAUNDRY?

Annie - Ford doesn’t back down but forges on and I think readers will be absolutely thrilled with this latest serving in the Cole McGinnis series. Filled with action and heartbreak, it’s a book that will pull all sorts of emotions from you. I definitely recommend this series to everyone!

Leigh - I absolutely loved it! I have loved all of the books in the series, but this one was definitely the best so far. Ford did such a fabulous job incorporating all of my favorite elements: great plot, suspense, and action; fabulous characters who continue to grow; a relationship that is just beautiful, even with the heartache and angst that might surround it; uber-hawt sexy time; and jaw-dropping shockers! Speaking of which, in that ending shocker, Ford brought the reader back to an issue that has been discussed in all three books, but leaves many questions unanswered as well. I LOVE that she introduced this element, and I look forward to learning some more.

Further, as I said earlier, I just loved the personal growth that Cole and Jae experienced individually and together as a couple as well. Even the sex scenes in DIRTY LAUNDRY helped advance their relationship to a new level – my heart was fluttering, my lips were quivering, and my girlie bits were tingling. It’s a perfect combination!

Like you, Annie – I highly recommend this series! I love that it deals with Asian traditions and heritage like no other series I’ve read. It has been a wonderful reading experience for me, and I so cannot wait for more!

*ARC provided by publisher