Reviewed by Tori
Nick Rixey, co owner of the Hard Ink Tattoo Parlor, just wants to be left alone. Recently discharged out of the military, he has enough on his plate without adding a sexy piece of trouble. Especially trouble who bears the last last name of his ex commander. The man Nick is positive betrayed his team on their last mission.
Becca Merritt’s brother has disappeared and in a note he left her, he told her to find Nick Rixey. Becca has no idea what her brother has gotten himself involved in, but she is positive he’s in danger. She’s dismayed when Nick sends her on her way with no help. When her place is broken into and she’s hurt, Nick lays aside his animosity and agrees to help her find her brother.
The chemistry explodes between Nick and Becca as their search for her brother leads them into a maze of drugs, gangs, and murder. Lust and desire are a potent mixture that can lead to love if Nick can let down the guard around his heart and let Becca heal the scars of the past.
Hard As it Gets is the beginning of a new romantic suspense series revolving around a team of ex-green berets who took the fall for their dishonest commander. Now, they have the chance to find out exactly what happened that fateful day their team was destroyed and the reasons behind it.
I enjoy Laura Kaye’s books. Even her smallest novellas are rich with well defined characters and emotionally heightened scenes. This one however, was not what I have come to expect when reading Laura Kaye. An interesting premise whetted my appetite when I read the blurb. A romance series about four ex-soldiers who run a renegade operation against an organized crime ring out of the back of a tattoo shop. What’s not to like? Nothing in theory. But in reality? Quite a bit. First off, the book is incredibly slow to start. It’s not until close to the 75% mark that any real action takes place, plot wise, and the story moves forward. Even then, we aren’t given much information to the hows or whys of what is happening. The main conflict is resolved but we are not told any of the reasons behind the events that took place. We are only left with a series of possible scenarios and a HFN concerning our hero and heroine.
A majority of the book focuses on series setup, character personality and role introductions. We meet Nick’s old team and various other individuals who are part of Nick’s life. Interesting characters who add humor and dimension to the story. I loved his brother Jeremy who I feel fleshes out the best in the entire story. His unequivocal support of Nick is heartwarming. We are given tiny backstories to the men in Nick’s team-their injuries and what they are doing now-priming them for their own book in the series. We get clues as to why Nick and his team were ousted out of the military and how Becca’s father may have played a part in it. Also, hints are given as to why Charlie, Becca’s brother was kidnapped, but it’s only pieces to the overall series puzzle.
The romance and the two main plot lines almost seemed to fight amongst themselves for a place in the story. Nick and Becca have instant chemistry from their first meeting, but Becca’s last name and Nick’s personal demons has Nick blowing hot and cold when it comes to embarking on any sort of physical relationship with Becca. Once his reasons become crystal clear, they are understandable but the dragging in that area becomes repetitive. Engaging sex scenes almost made up for the overall lack of appeal but even then I was dismayed by the lack of connection that Nick and Becca seemed to have. They have sex-they don’t make love in my opinion -which was hard for me to contemplate as all of Laura Kaye’s sex scenes are usually works of art. The lackluster sexual dialogue (Becca has only two sayings during sex; ‘Please’ and ‘I’m going to come.”) became irritating after the fifth time hearing. Also, I could never shake the feeling that the attraction was based more on their close proximity and the fact Nick hasn’t had sex for over a year. I never really understood or bought how they went from lust to love.
As I stated earlier, the action comes late in the book. Once it opens it’s throttles, we are easily swept up in the search and rescue. The ending is much less climatic then I thought it would be. Our heroes waltz in and out with nary a scratch. We are given a recap to what we had learned in the book and we are left with a lot of questions to the future.
I will stick to Ms. Kaye’s romantic contemporaries/erotic’s from here on out.
More Laura Kaye Reviews.