Hard As It Gets
Book 1 – The Hard Ink Series
by Laura Kaye
Avon/Harper Collins, November 26, 2013
Ebook, Paperback 368 pages
E-Galley provided by publisher via Edelweiss for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted. I am a member of Laura Kaye’s street team which means I support her work with my honest enthusiasm and respect for her writing.
Tall, dark, and lethal…
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He’s left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander’s daughter. Loyalty won’t let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.
With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn’t expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.
Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge…
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It’s almost moot for me to review HARD AS IT GETS: Laura is getting rave reviews across the board, and the truth is Laura’s work gets better with each book. When Laura first started publishing her writing was good, sincere, and uncontrived. But she was a little expository and a little hesitant.
Now, she maintains that sincerity and lack of artifice, but the hesitancy is gone and the balance between showing and telling is just about perfect. Also, she creates characters that are rich and full, full of strengths and failings, not books to be read by their covers. For example, Becca is as described above, but having had two brothers she is no stranger to bathroom humor, knows how to laugh at a naughty joke, and knows what she wants in the bedroom. She is no shrinking violet and even knows how to protect herself.
That surprises Nick, a noble man who almost doesn’t do the right thing, whose withdrawal from his former military team hasn’t helped anyone. He screws up in other ways as well.
The action is edge of the seat within the first few chapters. And the sparks between the love interests start up soon after, with frustrating results that I felt. Laura is not timid in writing sex; she writes hot, exciting, sex that is sure to curl the toes. She’s not vulgar either, the relationship is respectful, even with emotional baggage. And I love that communication isn’t a huge problem either; sometimes I get so frustrated when I read a romantic relationship and almost the entire story is predicated on poor communication skills.
This might soiund like a little thing, but by clearing the communication problems between the love interests, Laura makes room to explore the family dynamics, the criminal investigation, and the military issues. Oh and the couple get to actually know each other outside the bedroom in one of those intense experiences that bonds people quickly.
Laura was, until recently, a history professor at Annapolis Naval Academy. That brings about a pretty hearty understanding of the military. She seems to have a deep empathy for soldiers who have returned from our most recent wars, and it shows here and in her Heroes Series. In the heroes Series though the relationship issues are internal with mostly romance and emotional issues. I don’t know how it feels to be a returning soldier or the partner of one, but, in my heart I feel Laura’s connection and respect for our heroes.
This book is very romantic, erotic even, but with a edgy, action-thriller vibe. Someone can really get hurt physically here, and someone could get emotionally shredded as well.
The book has at least four areas of focus: the romantic, family issues (not just Becca’s), the criminal thriller, the military team aspect. They are all emotional, and connected to suspenseful action. The ending is a resolution on some fronts, but the next book is cleverly, but non-intrusively set up. I wouldn’t even have noticed it if the next book’s blurb didn’t give it away.
In short, this book has it all: romance, hot heroes, smexy stuff, scary stuff, family stuff and buddy stuff. It’s all wrapped up in an emotional, edgy, smart, well-paced book where every scene has a reason to be there. It’s pretty much a MUST READ for any lover of contemporary steaming hot romance.
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