Hard As You Can: A Hard Ink Novel by Laura Kaye
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Reviewed by: Reading In Pajamas/ Cori
Rated: 4.5 Stars
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.
I loved Hard As You Can! This is the second book in The Hard Ink Series and I recommend reading them in order, but they can each be read a s a stand alone. This is an action packed romance full of danger, emotion and passion. The series is fast paced and filled with everything I look for in a great story that captures and holds my attention from start to finish. I love this team of sexy former special forces! Shane is my favorite hero in the series so far, but I look forward to the next book and reading what Laura Kaye has in store for us next. I highly recommend this romantic suspense series.
*ARC provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
Laura will also be hosting a Facebook party for HARD AS YOU CAN on 2/25 from 12-9pm EST: https://www.facebook.com/events/416084181828110
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.
Hard Ink Puppy FB https://www.facebook.com/HardInkPuppy
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It’s release day! And I’m so excited to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.
Today, I’ve got a scene filled with lots of sexual tension and emotion to share with you, one that I absolutely adored writing! I hope you enjoy this look into the growing attraction between Shane and Crystal from Hard As You Can:
“I didn’t mean to criticize you, Crystal. I just cannot abide violence against women. Period. Especially not someone I know.” A long pause. “And definitely not someone I like.” After everything that had happened to her, the words were a balm for her psyche.
Footsteps came up behind her, slowly, cautiously, like she was a wild animal who would bolt in an instant. And she supposed there was some truth to that analogy.
Torn between returning to the danger she knew or staying with the one she didn’t, Crystal debated. Her heart told her Shane might well be the most dangerous man she’d ever met because he made her want, wish, maybe even dream.
Not at all sure it was a good idea, Crystal slowly turned.
Shane was right in front of her. A rock in the middle of a raging sea, a refuge she might claim if she had the strength and the will and the nerve to fight for it. To believe she deserved it. She hugged herself.
“Hey,” he said, cupping her face in his big hands. His fingers slid behind her neck and gently massaged.
She shook her head and glanced toward the treetops in an effort to pinch off the sting building behind her eyes. Why did she have to meet him now? She’d had a plan, and all she’d needed to do was follow it for a few more months. “You don’t even know me.”
“No. Not everything. But I know more than a little. And that much I like enough to want to know more.” His fingers rubbed her neck, gently, soothingly.
And his words, well, his words were perfect. Maybe even too much so. Too good to be true, she thought. “I already told you I’d share what I’d learned. You don’t have to play me.”
His eyes narrowed, and he frowned. “You listen hard and you listen good, sweetness,” he said, the words firm but the tone urgent, almost desperate, and laced with his southern accent. “I’m not perfect, and God knows I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. But I would never play with a woman’s emotions to get information out of her. That kind of manipulation doesn’t hold with me. Ever.”
Sweetness. She’d heard everything he’d said. The passion with which he’d said it. The sincerity that burned from his gaze as the words had poured from his lips. But it was the term of endearment that reached into her chest and gripped her heart. For a long moment, they stood there, bodies touching, faces inches apart, his hands holding her in that firm-but-gentle way he had.
Thunder rumbled again, closer this time, and her heart was a drum beat double-timing
inside her chest. If his hands didn’t feel it racing, he’d have to hear it, because the sound was a loud rush rush in her ears. Beneath the sports bra and tank, her nipples went hard. If his gaze dropped, she knew he’d see, but she couldn’t bring herself to feel self-conscious about it. Not when he was looking at her like he wanted to devour her.
His gaze dropped to her lips.
She shuddered, everything inside her but the smallest voice of reason crying out for him to do it. Just once.
“Tell me not to,” he said, his voice a raw scrape.
So that’s Shane and Crystal for you! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!
“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”
~J.R. Ward on Hard As It Gets
Readers can look forward to tons of sexy alpha male goodness, awesome bromance between the Hard Ink men, more antics from the Hard Ink puppy, and another great love story between Shane and Crystal. But readers should also be ready for a book that is darker, more intense, and more emotional. This book pushed me to emotional places that were tough as a writer, and might be tough for readers, too. But I think that just makes the payoff at the end so much sweeter!
Describe Shane and Crystal. What are their best traits? What are their weaknesses?
Shane and Crystal are such an amazing couple to me. They’re each exactly what the other needs. Shane’s best traits are his protectiveness, his fundamental kindness, and his soul-deep loyalty (his southern accent and humor are also right up there!). His biggest weakness for sure is a tragedy from the past for which he blames himself—and it’s something that continues to motivate him in Hard As You Can. Crystal’s best traits are her courage, protectiveness, and selflessness—she’s willing to do anything to keep her younger sister safe. Her biggest weakness is also that selflessness, because the sacrifices she’s required to make are getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
If you could describe your book in a 140 character tweet, what would it be?
When a woman in trouble assists an ex-soldier’s covert mission to regain his team’s stolen honor, he finds a new mission to save her, too
What are you most excited about with this second book release?
I’m really excited to take readers deeper into these awesome characters and into the mystery behind the Hard Ink team’s ambush and discharge!
What books are you reading right now?
I’m almost done with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (yes, I’m very late to the party but OMG JAMIE FRASER!!!). And I’ve recently devoured and loved Juliana Stone’s Offsides and Shelly Thacker’s time-travel historical romance, Forever His.
What can fans of your “Hard Ink” series look forward to next?
There will be two more Hard Ink books in 2014!
Hard to Hold on To – August 2014
Hard to Come By – November 2014
✦Book 1: Hard As It Gets ➢ Kindle http://amzn.to/13UC9GX | Amazon PBK http://amzn.to/1eebKEO | B&N http://bit.ly/1epPOY9 | Kobo http://bit.ly/17Ftsjz | iTunes http://goo.gl/ND4kSg
Review 4 Stars: http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-QY
✦Book 2: Hard As You Can ➢ Kindle http://amzn.to/1cWiyvV | Amazon PBK http://amzn.to/1JqSFhR | B&N http://bit.ly/1jqTrzw | Kobo http://bit.ly/1pdXJ0S
Review 4.5 Stars: http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-138
✦Novella: Hard To Hold On To ➢ Kindle http://amzn.to/1JqQlY7 | B&N http://bit.ly/P621cf | iTunes http://bit.ly/1tbBqLg
Review 4.5 Stars: http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-1wB
✦Book 3: Hard To Come By ➢ Kindle http://amzn.to/1Gg7shN | Amazon PBK http://amzn.to/1GfmtxF | B&N http://bit.ly/SfqFcW | Kobo http://bit.ly/1tpQD85
Review 5 Stars: http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-1Ox
✦NOVELLA: Hard To Be Good ➢ Kindle http://amzn.to/1FumL2i | B&N http://bit.ly/1A3X0Ba | Kobo http://bit.ly/1HgWt4M
Review 4.5 Stars http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-2lt
✦Book 4: Hard to Let Go ➢ Kindle $5.99 http://amzn.to/1SVE3gb | Amazon PBK $7.99 http://amzn.to/1BZIF0y | B&N (PBK $7.99/ Nook $5.99) http://bit.ly/1JgSCGD | Kobo $5.99 http://bit.ly/1GUpUu6 | iBooks http://apple.co/1JlmaTp