Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: Hard as You Can (Hard Ink #2) by Laura Kaye

(Hard Ink #2)
by Laura Kaye
Published 2/25/14
Publisher:  Harper Collins/Avon Books
Source:  Publisher/Edelweiss

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. 
Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

My Thoughts:  I love Laura Kaye's books, and I really enjoyed Hard Ink, the first book in this series.  Needless to say, I have been waiting on Hard As You Can to see what happens next in this series.  The story picks up right after where Hard Ink ends.  Though this is Shane and Crystal's story, the other characters in the book also play big roles.  The suspense continues as the team continues their quest to get to the bottom of all that has happened to them, and to Becca and Charlie, hoping to redeem themselves and finally discover the truth about what happened in Afghanistan, and figure out how all that ties back to Becca and Charlie.  The plot thickens as they discover more about the club where Crystal works, opening up a world of sex, drugs, and human trafficking.  Crystal takes a great risk to help them, while maintaining her cover and revealing the truth about her, her sister, and her past to Shane in the process.  Things heat up and culminate into an explosive ending where some answers and closure to some problems are found, and even more questions continue to arise.  

I really love Shane with his sexy drawl, his panty-dropping smile, and he proves to be quite chivalrous also. I mean the guy's got swagger and is a big piece of walking, talking, eye candy of the best kind.  I really liked her reasoning behind it.  Her situation is quite heartbreaking.  She has been and continues to go through so much, yet she is brave, and focused on what she needs to do to save and protect her sister Jenna, which I found very admirable.  There is instant chemistry between Shane and Crystal and really, though Crystal fights it, it is pretty much a "fall hard and fast" type of love situation, occurring under the most intense of circumstances.  Shane fights for it.  Crystal wants it, but has a hard time believing she could ever have a relationship, and that someone would really even want her when they found out the truth about her and the ugliness she believes about herself.  

As far as the other characters, there are quite a few and all play significant roles in the story.  We get to see Nick and Becca of course, as well as the other guys, which I've grown quite attached to.  The next book in the series will be a novella, and will be Easy and Jenna's story, which I can't wait to read.  I don't know who books 3 and 4 will be about, so I am looking forward to finding that out.  I really like Nick's brother Jeremy to, and I hope he gets a book or novella somewhere in the process.   

The story is told from both Shane and Crystal's point of view, which I enjoyed.  I really enjoy Laura Kaye's writing style also.  Not only does she bring on the romance and steam, but she creates a suspenseful plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages wanting more.  

Overall, I really enjoyed Hard as You Can.  I liked Hard Ink more than this one, and Nick with his bad boy and mysterious self is my favorite of the Hard Ink guys thus far, but I really did enjoy Shane's story to.  The romance was great, as usual, but the insta-love (and I really don't have a problem with insta-love in novels if it is done right), and I don't quite know if that is the right word, maybe it was more like the insta-depth of the insta-love that I didn't quite buy into completely, though it didn't hinder my enjoying the story at all.  I guess I just found Becca and Nicks relationship to be more believable romantic wise.  That said, this is a fantastic series and a wonderful second installment.  Laura Kaye delivers yet again, a story that her readers will want to devour.  I also really like the way she ends the books.  You know there is a lot more to the story, yet you feel very satisfied.  I am not a big cliffhanger fan, and I have been very impressed thus far with the way she does things.  

About 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.


  1. I had no idea there was a mystery involved in this read, not just a contemporary. I so glad I already picked both of these up based on your review of the first book. I look froward to reading them even more now.

  2. I didn't enjoy this one as much as Hard As It Gets, but I did like it. I think Jeremy is getting a novella! Great review, Ellen!

  3. I will read this one for sure. I'm anxious to meet Shane. Glad you liked it!


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