Friday, September 4, 2015

Double Review: Hard as It Gets & Hard as You Can by Laura Kaye

Hard as It Gets by Laura Kaye
(Hard Ink #1)
November 26, 2013
368 pages
Genre: Military Romance, Suspense 18+
Contains: sex, profanity, violence
Source: Personal purchase

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...

Admittedly, I read this book out of order, having read books 2.5 and 3 first. But I'm glad I came back and caught up on this first book. It did reveal some info I didn't know, and also gave me a better sense of where all these guys were at in the very beginning, before they were so much closer in the latter books I started with. But even if this were my first read of the series, I would still be hooked on the intriguing concept of finding justice for these guys.

Warning: Insta-love. If you don't mind that, Becca and Nikc's romance is actually quite sweet. They have special obstacles to overcome, but somehow, even having only known each other brefly, the author was still able to convey a believable deep love between the two of them. There were a couple of times I felt their passion for one another was a little time inappropriate (Charlie's missing, for Pete's sake!), but overall their chemimstry really worked for me.

I loved the mixing of Becca's family with the reunited Army guys mixed with Nick's family. Great weaving of situations and circumstances. Certainly makes you want to know everyone's story, how they've been coping in the year since everything went down, and what their futures will look like.

Great mystery of Becca's dad, Charlie's research, then adding in the new info they get, and I can see that this will be a very exciting story. Just have to keep all the info straight in my head. But I cannot wait for all the puzzle pieces to come together. This is a very exciting ride!

Hard as You Can by Laura Kaye
(Hard Ink #2)
February 25, 2014
384 pages
Genre: Military Romance, Suspense 18+
Contains: sex, profanity, violence, rape/abuse references
Source: Personal purchase

Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he’s shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister’s sake, Crystal can’t get too close. Until her job and Shane’s mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He’s exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.

What I like about this series is the sweet, sexy romances. But what I love about this series is this overall plot of uncovering this great, multi-layered mystery of why these guys were discharged, why their commander betrayed them, and what the heck is going on. Seriously, I love the layers! So, while I admit to reading this book out of order (my order: 2.5, 3, 1, then 2), I had to read this one simply because I loved getting all the plot pieces I previously missed. And the extra info about the guys that gives their characters more depth than a bunch of ex-military.

I loved the plot progression of this story. If I were simply rating the book on just that, I would have rated it higher. This series is so fascinating, with so many layers, twists, turns, secrets, reveals. Plus, I love watching how these guys work together, how they form a family of honor and love, and how all their unique pieces interact together. So big-picture plot-wise, I love this series and this the author is doing a tremendous job with it. I'm excited to see how everything unfolds and what will become of this new "family."

If I thought Nick and Becca's story was insta-love, they had nothing on Shane and Crystal/Sara. Holy smokes! Now, I'm not opposed to insta-love. I've enjoyed my fair share. But even I found the quick romance between Shane and Sara a bit much. Did I believe their insta-connection? Of course. I loved that they saw something special and intriguing about the other person, and somehow they found someone they could trust. What didn't work for me was the timing of the sex. With Sara's abusive past and present, I found Shane to be a little too forward and Sara a little too easily cured of her past. Did I like Shane and Sara as a couple? Yes, but with more time and healing.

While I didn't love the romance in this one, I still love all the characters and I absolutely loved the progression of the overall story, finding this series completely engaging. Now I'm ready for the finale!

Hard Ink series:

Hard As It Gets #1

Hard As You Can #2

Hard To Hold On To #2.5

Hard To Come By #3

Hard To Be Good #3.5

Hard To Let Go #4

Hard As Steel #4.5

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