Rough Trade by Sidney Bell
Book Reviews,  Bookish

Rough Trade by Sidney Bell

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Rough Trade picks up where Hard Line left off. Ghost’s story is so much more than I ever expected.

ROUGH TRADE by Sidney Bell

Rough Trade by Sidney Bell

Publication Date:  December 4, 2018
Genre:  MM Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 496 pages
Story Rating: 5/5

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A Quick Rant First

I’ve had a really bad run of books lately (and by lately I mean the last four months). It has been so frustrating. For some reason writing characters with heartbreaking histories and traumas seems to be in right now. Which shouldn’t be a problem, I’ve said over and over again how much I love reading about healing, resiliency and overcoming trauma.

Thing is when I read a book that deals with emotional and potentially triggering content and this book certainly does I expect it to be handled with compassion and tact. Surprisingly, or not, so many of the books that have ended up in my review queue lately have amounted to little more than thinly veiled romanticized non-con erotica. I get that there is a market for material like that, no judgment here if that’s your thing, it just upsets me.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, it’s a rant I’ve had may time before.

So why did I include this big long rant? I’m so glad you asked!

Ghost has a story that needs to be told and Rough Trade tells it. If you read the last book, you know where this is going. Ghost is a young man who has problems being touched, who struggles to trust people, who has done whatever he had to do to survive. It’s not a pretty story.

Sadly, judging by the messages I receive on Goodreads when I go on a rant about consent and the emails some of you sent after I posted this, I know too many of you are going to be able to relate to his story.

Which is why this is a really difficult review to write. You see, I want to go on a rant and say this book needs a trigger warning. But, if I’m being honest, I don’t think it does. It’s triggering in the same way as acknowledging the fact that bad things happen, or even watching the evening news is triggering. I’m not sure how to handle that.

So, I’m going to say that although this book deals with some tough stuff, it’s handled and presented very well. This author has clearly mastered the concept of “show, don’t tell” which made this book both easier and more difficult to read.


Rough Trade is book three in a series, although it could, technically, be read as a standalone. There’s some mention of characters from previous books in the series and the timeline picks up where the last book left off. I would recommend reading the whole series (it’s pretty awesome and I know you’ll love it) but you could probably figure it out if you wanted to jump in and just read this one.

Now let’s talk about our friend Ghost, I couldn’t wait to learn more about him.

This book was action packed and full heartwarming scenes all while finding a way to pull at my heartstrings, draw me into the story. I’m not even ashamed to admit, I fell in love with these characters.

From Ghost’s distrust of authority and well-honed survival instincts to Duncan’s quiet acceptance and calmness, this book was quite incredible.

This was a multi-layered story that deserved to be savored. It was a bit heavy at times. While I would normally make a pot of coffee, settle into my blanket fort and read a book from beginning to end in one sitting, I needed a couple breaks with this one.

I was scared when the characters were scared, I was excited, anxious, even heartbroken. It’s rare for me to react that way to a book. I usually regard the books I read with a detached interest, I care but I’m not invested. It’s not often I find myself with a cause of the dreaded feelings and I certainly did with this one.

I have to say this is probably one of the best examples of show, don’t tell I’ve come across. Ghost has a sad story but it’s told and understood in terms the things we can see, how he acts and responds to the world around him. By the end of the book, you have no doubt about what he went through, but it’s never explicitly relayed to the reader. I absolutely loved it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Rough Trade was an awesome book and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

So read the book, prepare for all the feels. Be sure to let me know what you think. This book was a roller coaster and I would love to talk to someone about it.

More Information: Goodreads

If this sounds the book for you, you might also enjoy Game Changer or Loving a Warrior.


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