Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #2
Publication Date: February 25th 2014
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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 really need to start paying more attention to these books blurbs. I thought this book was going to be about a former military man who is now a tattoo artist. Uh, no. This is actually a romantic suspense featuring mobs, government conspiracies and dishonored soldiers who have gone rogue in order to clear their names. It wasn’t a bad read, but it sure wasn’t what I was expecting.
Crystal is stuck working as a waitress in a strip club until the debts her father wracked up with the motorcycle gang who own it are paid up. She would run far and fast if it weren’t for her little sister. As it is, she needs the help and support of her boyfriend, Bruno, just to get by. Until Shane McCallan walks through the door, Crystal is just biding her time, waiting until her sister graduates college so she can get away. But seeing Shane changes everything. He makes her want things she can’t have. When he asks for her help in getting information about her employers, she’s terrified – but knows she can’t say no.
The last thing Shane expected to find when they pulled a rescue mission at the strip club was a woman who had courage and fire – with damaged eyes and a wounded soul. He needs Crystal’s help to uncover secrets about his former commander, but more, he needs to help Crystal get out of her bad situation. It’s an impossible place to be in, but he’s dealt with worse.
This isn’t the type of book I would normally have chosen to read. If I had paid more attention to the blurb I probably would have skipped right past it. It was interesting. I do feel like I missed quite a bit by skipping book one. This book takes place almost immediately after that one ends (I believe it picks up the same day the first book ends).
Crystal comes off as a victim at first, but as her reasons for being where she is become clear, it’s easy to sympathize with her. I wanted to see her kick ass and take names, but her quiet defiance worked on me as well. She was in an impossible situation and trying to do her best with what she was given. I like that her sister was more important to her than anything else.
Shane had a hero complex due to events from his past. He wanted to help Crystal because he knew she needed it, but also because he needed to cleanse his soul. I know someone like this in real life and that made it easy for me to understand where he was coming from.
Shane and the team’s search for answers about how and why they were betrayed was interesting. I really wanted to know what happened and how that played out. That part ends on a cliffhanger, but I can see how it can’t be resolved in one book. I’m interested in seeing where things go next.
What bothered me about the book is how fast everything happens. It’s only a matter of days before Shane and Crystal feel a deep attachment to each other. I can’t recall the exact time frame now, but I believe the entire book takes place in less than a week’s time. I don’t think a week is enough time to meet someone and decide you like them, much less fall in love and decide you want to be together forever. Especially during a high-stress situation like the one presented here. I got the impression the first book took place over a short time frame as well.
Though I liked Shane and Crystal separately, I didn’t really buy into their romance. It happened much fast to be believable. I did find the story interesting and look forward to the finding out more about their situation.
3.5 out of 5