Hard to be Good: A Hard Ink Novella by Laura Kaye
Title ~ Hard to be Good: A Hard Ink Novella
Author ~ Laura Kaye
Publisher ~ HarperCollins Publishers
Published ~ 14th April 2015
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
Hard Ink Tattoo owner Jeremy Rixey has taken on his brother’s stateside fight against the forces that nearly killed Nick and his Special Forces team a year before. Now, Jeremy’s whole world has been turned upside down—not the least of which by a brilliant, quiet blond man who tempts Jeremy to settle down for the first time ever.
Recent kidnapping victim Charlie Merritt has always been better with computers than people, so when he’s drawn into the SF team’s investigation of his army colonel father’s corruption, he’s surprised to find acceptance and friendship—especially since his father never accepted who Charlie was. Even more surprising is the heated tension Charlie feels with sexy, tattooed Jeremy, Charlie’s opposite in almost every way.
With tragedy and chaos all around them, temptation flashes hot, and Jeremy and Charlie can’t help but wonder why they’re trying so hard to be good...
4.5 “Conquering Fear” Stars!
“The instant his lips crashed into Jeremy’s, Charlie realized something he’d never known before. Conquering fear didn’t mean not being afraid, it meant being afraid of something and doing it anyway. It meant saying no to fear—no you can’t rule me, no you can’t hold me back, no you can’t keep me from the things I want the most. Not anymore.”
Hard to Be Good is a novella in Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series. Since the onset of this series, I have been a huge fan. The books simply get better and better. If you have yet to pick up this series, it is a darn great one to dive into. This novella picks up where book three ends as the overall story arc essentially flows from one book to another. For this reason I highly recommend reading book one first if you have not already done so. This book also marks the first M/M one in the series. I commend this author for branching out and giving us Jeremey and Charlie’s story.
Essentially, 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. This novella is about two background characters who are not the former soldiers but are an important part of the storyline nonetheless.
Jeremy Rixey is the owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, the place that has become the hub for the Special Forces team led by Nick Rixey trying to seek out justice. Jeremy is also Nick’s younger brother and is determined to stand by his brother and his team and help them with their fight. His life has been turned inside out with the team, and now many others, invading his shop and personal space. Charlie Merritt is a computer genius who was recently kidnapped for his connection to the commander. His sister sought out Nick to help her save Charlie and this led to his eventual rescue, but not before damage was done. With Nick and his sister now romantically involved and Charlie being wholly invested in uncovering the truth just as much as the others, he is now fully entrenched in this dangerous search for answers. Both Jeremy and Charlie are shouldering a lot of blame for things beyond their control. They both have also been attracted to each other from the start but have yet to act on what they are feeling. Can they move past their guilt and try and find a sliver of happiness when everything else in their worlds seems so out of control?
Jeremy and Charlie experience a few bumps when they both decide to take things further than the strong friendship they have been building. Charlie grew up with a father who was anything but accepting of his sexual orientation. He’s afraid of what everyone will think if him and Jeremy were to come out into the open. Would they be accepting or would he once again experience ignorance and disgust just for simply embracing who is his? I loved how patient Jeremy was and how open he was with Charlie, fully understanding that he needed to tread carefully. With Jeremy’s kind support and gentle nudges, Charlie may just be able to let go of his past.
Both men have a few sizzling hot stolen moments amidst all the chaos. And, I must say, those scenes were not only passion-filled and sexy but they were also a lot of fun to read. One of my favorite lines in the book was when Jeremy gets an eye full of all that Charlie has to offer.
“And holy. Fucking, Hell. Charlie was hung. He had a good ten inches of long, hard cock. It was like learning unicorns were real.”
I must say. I got a little jealous of Jeremy. I want to learn that unicorns are real, too! ;)
All in all, Hard to Be Good was a wonderful addition to this series. I loved this novella and this little snippet that we get of Jeremy and Charlie. I’m hoping that this is not the last M/M romance that Ms. Kaye writes. Regardless, I am wholly invested in this series and can’t wait for more!
Jeremy pressed his lips to Charlie’s ear. “Can I touch you?”
Charlie nodded. “Yes.”
“Anywhere?” Jeremy asked.
A shiver passed over Charlie’s body. And damn if that wasn’t sexy as hell. “Please,” he whispered.
Slowly, Jeremy ran his hands down Charlie’s chest, then his sides, until he could finally do what he’d yearned to do this morning—burrow under the T-shirt and touch him skin to skin.
Charlie sucked in a breath at the contact, and the sound both aroused and cautioned Jeremy not to go too fast. He had no idea what kind of experience Charlie might have under his belt, but nothing about him read as a casual-sex-kinda guy. Unlike Jeremy, for whom sex was unquestionably his favorite form of exercise. No better reason to get hot and sweaty.
He dragged his fingertips up Charlie’s stomach to his chest, loving the feeling of his muscles jumping and twitching, until he exposed his nipples. Light blond hair thinly covered the center of the man’s chest, and Jeremy licked his lips as a yearning to taste flooded through him.
“Take it off,” Jeremy said. They worked the shirt off together.
“Yours, too,” Charlie said, his words shaky and quiet. Like he was nervous. Or unsure.
Jeremy ditched his shirt in an instant, and his skin heated at how Charlie’s gaze appeared to drink in all of the art covering Jer’s body. “Look at me,” Jeremy said. Blue eyes cut up to his. “How can I put you at ease? Because you don’t ever have to be uncomfortable with me. You have something to say? I will listen. You want something? Ask. You need something? I will gladly give it. Every damn time.”
“Okay,” Charlie said, his tongue flicking over his bottom lip. “Then don’t stop.”
Hard Ink Series
Don’t miss the other Hard Ink books, now available:
About Laura Kaye
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. 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.