Sunday, February 23, 2014


Hard As You Can (Hard Ink, #2)Series: Hard Ink #2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 2/25/14
Format: eARC
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 stars

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'm a big fan of Laura Kaye's; Hard As It Gets was one of my most highly-anticipated books of 2013. I adored Nick, and I liked Becca. Two people stole the story for me: Jeremy Rixey (this dude needs a story!) and Shane McCallan. Shane was such a fun addition to the Hard Ink gang. His presence was commanding. So with that, it is no shocker that I was very excited for this book.
Hard As You Can picked up immediately where book one left off. There's a recap of Shane and Crystal's first run-in, then the story takes off from there. The story continues with the Hard Ink gang's efforts to infiltrate the Church organization, and learn how they are connected with Becca and Charlie's father, specifically, his betrayal.
Now, back to Shane...he delivered in this story. So hard. He was still the same smartass, badass, sexy man I was hoping to find in Hard As You Can, and I loved that. I also really liked this book's heroine, Crystal. Her backstory was very brutal, very difficult to imagine enduring. Crystal's love and care for her sister was admirable. I liked that she was smart, biding her time to make the right moves.
All the interactions and dialogue in Hard As You Can was fun. The Hard Ink crew has a fun dynamic that portrays the seriousness of their situation, but also a lot of joking and making fun at one another's expense. That was by far my favorite part of the story.
There were a couple of areas that I struggled with. One, the cast of characters in the story is large. I like the group and the dynamic, but with so many significant characters, I did have a hard time keeping everyone straight. Another thing was the action/terminology. I won't say this is an issue with the book, because I do think it shows Kaye is dedicated to accuracy. It's just me. I didn't follow a lot, or I had to reread to be sure I knew who was doing what where and why. And to that end, it didn't feel there was any real progression with the investigation.
The last area I struggled with was the romance. Now with this being romantic suspense, you're going to typically have a fast-paced romance due to heightened conditions. You're in danger, you may die, so of course, you're going to latch onto someone, especially if they're insanely attractive. Shane and Crystal were most certainly in this situation, but I'm not sure that I could necessarily buy the declarations of love with them having known each other for days, and spending very little of that time actually getting to know each other (likes/dislikes/hopes/fears,etc).  I'm definitely on board for the physical, that I get. Just, not so much the love.
Overall, I liked Hard As You Can. I'm starting to get the sense that Romantic Suspense is not my genre of choice. I am, as always, a big fan of Laura Kaye's work, and will continue the Hard Ink series.

Favorite Quote:

  "God, I can't get rid of you." Exasperation had her throwing up her arms.
   "I specialize in pain in the ass, darlin'." He smiled, forcing himself to hear down the intensity.      
  "Well, congratulations, because you clearly graduated with honors."
Hard Ink Series
Hard As It Gets (Hard Ink, #1)  Hard As You Can (Hard Ink, #2)
(cover lead to GoodReads)
Purchase Links

About the author
Laura Kaye
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.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter SignUp


  1. Smartass? Haha. I don't know why, but I love those. I blame Connor Cobalt for this:) "but also a lot of joking and making fun at one another's expense." I approve of this when it's a tight group of friends, otherwise it's not so okay, but yes, in this case? Totally acceptable and, I imagine, a lot of fun. I'm sorry it wasn't a perfect story for you, but I'm glad you enjoyed it:)

  2. I have been meaning to start this series for a while, I enjoy a good romantic suspense every now and then. Also really liked that quote you shared. Great review!

  3. I know a lot of people like these books, but I'm really not sure what to think of it especially with the rapid declarations of love. I tend to shy away from those as you know. Plus, I'm one of those readers who can't keep up with a large cast either, so I completely understand you.
    I'm glad you liked it overall, Andrea.
    Lovely review.

  4. I still want to read this series :( so many great books so little time. it sounds like you cannot read this one as a stand-alone. which is okay I like picking up book 1 and go from there.

  5. I loved the first book too. I'm happy that this one is just as good as the first. I don't know when I'm going to read this, hopefully sometime this week, but at least I know that I won't be disappointed.

  6. I love this series but yeah..the romance came off too strong for me, and typically I am perfectly happy falling into the romance fast in this genre but ..the feelings especially Shane's were too much. I am excited for book three!

  7. I have seen this books around and honestly after reading the first paragraph of your review I though it was so unusual to have so many important characters in book. I'd struggle with it as well. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one over all. Great review, Andrea :)

  8. Love the tattoo on the cover and glad to hear that he delivered hard in this one, sounds like my kind of man

  9. I'm not sure I'd enjoy reading a book with such a large cast. I see where it could be confusing.

  10. I'm sorry this one was a bit of a letdown, Andrea. That's too bad since I know you loved the first one. It does sound good though. I think I one-clicked Hard as it Gets, so I'll give this series a try eventually. *ha* Fabulous review, Andrea. I'm glad it delivered in some ways for you!

  11. I've yet to read this one, so I skimmed your review. I'm not completely sold on Romantic Suspense, but I am looking forward to Shane. Nice review.

  12. I bought the first book last month and planed on reading it very soon. I'm looking forward to it! I think having a heads up about the romance in this one might help, at least I'll be prepared. :D

  13. I totally agree that one of the best things about romantic suspense novels is the passionate and desperate side to the romance. I love the intense vibe that comes with the danger of their situation, but if the "I love yous" come out too early on, it just doesn't feel realistic. It still sounds like a good story despite this though :)

  14. I have trouble following a storyline, when there are too many characters to keep track of as well. This sounds good, but I understand the struggle with the insta-love! Nice Review Andrea!

  15. Oh no, if the romance isn't done right in a romance book?! That's pretty much a deal breaker for me. I haven't read much from Kaye, but her writing is okay. Idk if I'll be checking this out, but great review!

  16. I agree with you about the romance part. I did really enjoy this, but for some reason, I bought into Nick and Becca's romance a lot easier than Shane and Crystals. Wonderful review as usual :)


Comments are bloggy food. Feed me!

Recent Post