Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye ~ Release Day Review & Giveaway

hard as you can

Title: Hard As You Can (Hard Ink, #2)

Author: Laura Kaye

Genre: Erotic Romance

Release Date: February 25 2014

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Synopsis

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.

 

Lisa’s Review

4 Stars

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Hard As You Can is book two in Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series. This book picks up where book one ends and the story essentially flows from one book to another. For this reason I highly recommend reading book one first if you have not already done so. Five former Special Forces soldiers have rekindled their connection and bond that was severed one year prior when their commander betrayed them all with his involvement in illegal activities. Forced to leave the army with reputations in shambles, the men are now on a mission to uncover exactly what their ex-commander was involved in, to clear their names and restore their honor. The team is searching for answers and as they become more entrenched into the world of organized crime, drugs and the sex slave trade, they discover that more is at stake than what they could have ever imagined.

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Shane McCallan is no stranger to loss and pain. Having lost his only sister as a thirteen year old boy and then losing half of his team overseas, has deeply affected him and made him the man he is today. He carries a deeply ingrained burden of guilt which he struggles with on a daily basis. When Nick Rixley, the second in command of his former Special Forces team, calls and indicates that he may have discovered some information that could lead to clearing their names, Shane is willing to assist with the mission despite the strained relationship he now shares with the surviving members of his ex-team. On one of their operations to rescue their ex-commander’s son (in book one) Shane and the boys receive help from an unlikely source. The waitress who aided them made a lasting impression on Shane and now he can’t seem to get his mind off the beautiful redhead.

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Crystal (a.k.a. Sara) Dean is trapped. She is stuck working as a waitress at Confessions, an unsavory club belonging to the Church Organization, in order to pay off her deceased father’s debt. She tries hard to protect her younger sister from the life that she somehow inherited from her father and willingly puts herself on the frontlines of danger to keep it all away from the person she loves most in this world. As she deals with an abusive boyfriend and being in the midst of chaos, Crystal knows that she is hiding behind a fa├žade in order to survive – different persona, different name and a different life. She hopes to escape the life she finds herself in and is counting down the days until she can do so safely. When pandemonium erupts at the club one evening Crystal finds herself helping a mysterious man with a southern drawl. She may not trust men but she can’t help but be drawn to the handsome stranger who seems to be taking on the Church Organization.

Shane finds himself returning to Confessions in hopes of convincing Crystal to help him and the team gather further intel. He discovers that there is more to Crystal than meets the eye and Shane now wants to be a hero swooping in to rescue the damsel in distress. However, said damsel is in deep and coming to her rescue may put the mission at risk. There is no way Shane can walk away. Will Crystal trust him enough to allow him to help? As the pair navigate the dark alleys of the dangerous organized crime ring, they discern that sometimes no matter what danger you may be facing it is best to hang on to whatever good you have in your life as hard as you can.

All in all, Hard As You Can was a great and thrilling second installment to this series where two damaged souls find one another in the midst of dismal circumstances. Love often comes when you least expect it and perhaps when you feel the least deserving. We get to know the men even better in this book and as this storyline moves along and the team obtains help from an MC biker group, things are definitely getting intense and interesting. I am very much looking forward to seeing where Ms. Kaye takes this series. I am hooked!

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Series Reading Order

  1. Hard As It Gets
  2. Hard As You Can
  3. Hard To Hold On To  - due August 2014
  4. Hard To Come By – due November 2014

 

Excerpt

It’s release day! And I’m thrilled to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.

Today, I’m excited to share Shane and Crystal’s first kiss! Don’t you love first kiss scenes? Gah! I so do. *grins* Here we go:

 

“Tell me not to,” Shane said, his voice a raw scrape.

“I can’t,” Crystal whispered in a shaky voice. “I don’t want to.”

Shane’s body took over then, all urgent need and basic instinct. The rest of the world be damned. He pulled her in and kissed her, his lips devouring, his tongue exploring deep. Nothing held back. Nothing denied. Not even as her lips reawakened the sting from the cut on his lip. Totally worth it.

Crystal’s arms came up around him. She trembled against him, and Shane wasn’t sure if it was caused by adrenaline or fear. Unable to tolerate the thought that she might feel forced, he eased off.

She moaned and held him tighter, like his retreat had made something snap within her. Their kisses deepened, and her body moved against his, sinuously, maddeningly, desperately.

They tasted one another again and again, giving in to the heat that had sparked between them from the moment Crystal had collided with him at Confessions. Little nips and bites of lips and teeth warred with long, sensual strokes of tongue that stole his breath and made him instantly hard. The sting in his lip, the throb of his GSW, the aches from Nick’s asskicking, every bit of it faded away—no, her touch made it all go away.

The few times they’d spoken, Crystal had most often been guarded, tentative, fearful. Just as she’d been when he first kissed her. But, now, she was revealing a passionate woman who could be fearless, giving and receiving openly and without hesitation. Christ, the thought that this fierceness was the real Crystal slayed him because it meant she was burying and denying her true self, not because she wanted to, but because she had to.

No, because someone forced her to.

The thought reminded him of the bruises on her arm. Shane had known this woman for three days, and twice in that time she’d been hurt by another man. And both as a consequence for things Shane had done.

A crack of thunder echoed from the heavens, making Crystal jump and gasp into his mouth.

“I’ve got you,” he rasped around a kiss.

Part of him wanted to say more, to tell her he had her and he’d keep her safe. But he couldn’t make himself give up her heat, her sweetness, her obvious hunger—for him.

So he made her a silent promise instead.

Never again, Crystal. He’ll never hurt you again. Not on my watch.

Because Shane McCallan had made a mistake like that once. And, as bad as his sister’s disappearance had been, something’s happening to Crystal would actually be worse because Shane knew it was coming. The one break he’d ever given himself over Molly was that he’d had no way to know she’d be abducted. Didn’t excuse the role he played in allowing it to happen, but he couldn’t have known. But with Crystal, while he might not know when or how this Bruno asshole would strike out to do the ultimate damage, it was all but a done deal at this point. Always was with guys like him. And Shane would go to the grave before he let it happen, before he failed another female for whom he cared.

Because he did care. Made no damn sense given how long he’d known her. And the timing was beyond piss-poor. But there it was all the same.

 

 

So that’s Shane and Crystal starting to give in to what they feel for one another – I hope you enjoyed! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!

~Laura

 

Q&A with Laura

 

HARD AS YOU CAN is your second book in the “Hard Ink” series (after USA Today bestseller, HARD AS IT GETS). What can readers look forward to?

Readers can look forward to tons of sexy alpha male goodness, awesome bromance between the Hard Ink men, more antics from the Hard Ink puppy, and another great love story between Shane and Crystal. But readers should also be ready for a book that is darker, more intense, and more emotional. This book pushed me to emotional places that were tough as a writer, and might be tough for readers, too. But I think that just makes the payoff at the end so much sweeter!

Describe Shane and Crystal. What are their best traits? What are their weaknesses?

Shane and Crystal are such an amazing couple to me. They’re each exactly what the other needs. Shane’s best traits are his protectiveness, his fundamental kindness, and his soul-deep loyalty (his southern accent and humor are also right up there!). His biggest weakness for sure is a tragedy from the past for which he blames himself—and it’s something that continues to motivate him in Hard As You Can. Crystal’s best traits are her courage, protectiveness, and selflessness—she’s willing to do anything to keep her younger sister safe. Her biggest weakness is also that selflessness, because the sacrifices she’s required to make are getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

If you could describe your book in a 140 character tweet, what would it be?

When a woman in trouble assists an ex-soldier's covert mission to regain his team's stolen honor, he finds a new mission to save her, too

What are you most excited about with this second book release?

I’m really excited to take readers deeper into these awesome characters and into the mystery behind the Hard Ink team’s ambush and discharge!

What books are you reading right now?

I’m almost done with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (yes, I’m very late to the party but OMG JAMIE FRASER!!!). And I’ve recently devoured and loved Juliana Stone’s Offsides and Shelly Thacker’s time-travel historical romance, Forever His.

What can fans of your “Hard Ink” series look forward to next?

There will be two more Hard Ink books in 2014!

Hard to Hold on To – August 2014

Hard to Come By – November 2014

 

Giveaway

 

To help celebrate the release of Hard As You Can, Laura has giftcards to give away.  For your chance to win, just enter the Rafflecopter below and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

About Laura Kaye

Laura Kaye croppedLaura 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.

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1 comment:

  1. Yay! It's out. I enjoyed all the review thoughts, the interview and the excerpt to get me even more excited. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

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