Release Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Avon Books
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Adult Fiction
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…
Watch “Hard Ink: An Introduction to Laura Kaye’s New Series” where the author describes her exciting new series!
Okay, all you fellow romantic suspense readers out there, get ready for Laura Kaye’s smexy new Hard Ink series. Her debut novel, Hard As It Gets was released today, and so far, I’m impressed with the storyline and the loyal cast of characters who collaborate to solve an ongoing mystery behind a major cover up that has already destroyed the careers and reputations of five ex-special forces soldiers who are determined to clear their names.
Becca Merritt steps out of her comfort zone when she enters the Hard Ink Tattoo Parlor looking for Nick Rixey to help her find her missing brother, Charlie. She doesn’t expect Nick’s brusque behavior and abrupt dismissal of her crisis, but she also has no idea of the depth of anger and bitterness Nick has toward her father, the recently deceased Colonel Merritt:
“Frank Merritt had stolen his career, his reputation, six of his best friends, and his…ability to sit or stand for any length of time without wanting to whimper like a little girl. What the hell more was he supposed to give?”
Since Nick’s other than honorable discharge from the Army a year ago, he has felt lost, without a true purpose and spends some of his time working alongside his younger brother, Jeremy, as a tattoo artist. He carries so much guilt that as second in command, he didn’t realize that Colonel Merritt planned to sabotage and destroy his own team, and it’s sad to see him try to bear the burden alone, when his teammates would be there for him, if only he’d reach out to them.
Despite Nick’s aloof behavior, he is a man of integrity, and the desire to protect others is deeply ingrained in his psyche. When he discovers both Becca and her brother are, indeed, in immediate danger, he puts aside his deep-seated feelings of betrayal and puts all of his efforts into helping Becca stay safe and find Charlie. As they work together, the attraction and sexual chemistry between them intensifies and the awareness they have when they are around each other is one of the key aspects in making this a great romantic read.
I enjoyed the deep connection that forms between Becca and Nick over such a short period of time. Even Becca finds herself a bit rattled by the intense feelings she has so quickly developed for Nick:
“The way she wanted him was crazy. She knew it was…At twenty-eight she’d never felt anything like the passionate urges he seemed to wring out of her with just a look or a touch and who knew if she’d find another man capable of making her feel this way again. He was quintessentially masculine and quietly powerful and arrogantly commanding-sometimes to the point where she wanted to throttle him. But mostly, her body reacted to these qualities as if they were a gypsy healer’s most potent aphrodisiac, mysterious and irresistible and maybe a little dangerous too.”
And no matter how much Nick tries to keep his distance, he can’t help but to be drawn to her beauty and the light she brings into his life:
“She just had a light about her he found so appealing. Because these days, he didn’t have much light in his own life. Everything was dark and heavy, saddling him with the bone-crushing weight of guilt and regret and wants never to be fulfilled. But Becca was just…sunshine, warm and life-giving.”
Their private moments together are passionate, steamy, and also very tender.
They complement each other so well, I can’t help but hope that when the truth comes out, Colonel Merritt will no longer be an obstacle to keep them apart.
After Becca shares what little she knows of her brother’s investigation into their father’s activities, Nick begins to think that finding Charlie is vital in discovering and exposing the truth about Merritt’s deceptive, illicit black op activities, and ultimately the key to restoring his name and honor. As a result, Becca’s situation is the impetus for reuniting Nick and his fellow brothers-in-arms.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the tense, icy reception Nick gets when his former teammates arrive and their struggles to rebuild their fractured team.
Kaye does an excellent job in establishing each team member’s defining personality traits, and I appreciate the time the author takes to flesh out these secondary characters who already are and will continue to be essential to the continuation of the series.
Becca is my favorite type of heroine. She is sincere, kind, and helpful in finding her brother. She doesn’t needlessly put herself in harm’s way or make poor decisions that only cause more complications because of a need to prove herself to anyone else. Over the course of the story, Becca earns the admiration of Nick and everyone else on the team, and I really liked her grit in standing up to these hardened warriors when they step out of line.
Although Becca is grateful to Nick for all of the help he is providing, she also has no idea that Nick and his team have their own personal reasons for getting involved. Nick is afraid that once Becca learns why they have all gathered to help, she will be unable to forgive him. Will she believe her father to be capable of the betrayal that Nick and his team allege? How will she feel about Nick once she finds out he’s kept his connection to her father a secret?
The story is paced very well with plenty of action, suspense, surprises, and romance to keep me interested the entire time. As the team continue to search for answers, more and more questions arise, and I can already see a more complex plot unfolding that is far from over. Kaye also establishes the storyline for the next installment, and I can’t wait to see what will happen next. This is a series I plan to continue and encourage you to check out!
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review. Since the quotes used in this review were taken from a pre-published copy, they may have changed or been omitted in the final copy.
4.5 shining suns
Laura Kaye is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Laura’s hot, heartfelt stories are all about the universal desire for a place to belong. Laura grew up amidst family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with storytelling and the supernatural. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day. (from Goodreads Profile)
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4805272.Laura_Kaye
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Coming February 25, 2014
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.
Pre-order from Amazon: Hard As You Can: A Hard Ink Novel
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