by Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #2
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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
I fell in love with the men that make up Hard Ink, in Hard as It Gets book one of Laura Kaye’s hot new romantic suspense series featuring a former Special Forces team. Hard as You Can, brought us back into the action and shared the romance of Shane McCallan and Crystal Dean. Mini-review: Intense action, bikers, and a girl in trouble made this a page-flipping read.
The story picks up right where Hard as It Gets left off. These can be read as standalone since each features one case and romance but I am not going to recommend it since there is an overall story arc that is intense. The team is still trying to decipher clues that Becca’s Dad left and to clear the men’s dishonorable discharge. Shane decides to see if Crystal; the sexy waitress at the dance club will help them again. When Shane realizes she is in trouble he makes it his mission to help her.
While we get some fun banter between the men and get to know Shane’s character better, this second novel was heavier on the action. We get his backstory and it was heart-breaking. He is such a sexy, heart on your sleeve kind of guy. I liked Shane but at times his feelings, especially regarding Crystal, were intense. I am not talking about her situation but the romantic aspect. It came on a little too strong and left me floundering to completely connect with the romantic element. Crystal is incredibly strong. Her need to protect her sister helped me understand her predicament. The rest of the gang was present, and I enjoyed the banter and tidbits regarding their personalities. They all share a common bond and have their own voices. I love that I am able to visualize each of them. There are moments of laughter and camaraderie that I simply ate up.
Hard as You Can, takes us into the seedier side of organized crime, and gave us a few nibbles regarding the overall series ARC. Kaye can write suspense and kept me engaged. I felt Crystal’s fear and loathed her boss. This tale had everything from kidnapping to human trafficking and even a biker gang. While some of it was over the top, I took the little blue pill and enjoyed the ride. The human trafficking and darker tones made me squirm and I felt for these victims. It is quite common for insta-love in romantic suspense, but I needed more moments with this couple. The romance went from zero to sixty leaving my hair wind-blown but I wanted a slower more scenic ride. Kaye does a good job of tying threads together and making connects with the mystery aspect and it felt genuine. There are several threads and all get equal page time as we slowly built towards the action-packed and intense ending. Time spent with the gang were the threads I enjoyed most and love this dynamic team. Kaye wrapped things up nicely while setting things up for the next book a novella called Hard to Hold on To.
Fans of romantic suspense and yummy military men will enjoy Hard as You Can. I am anxious to continue the Hard Ink series with Easy’s story in Hard to Hold on To set to release in August 2014.
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