Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Release Day Launch with Review + Except + Giveaway: Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye @laurakayeauthor

Title: Hard As You Can

Author: Laura Kaye

Series: Hard Ink #2

Publication date: February 25th, 2014

ISBN: 9780062267917

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
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

I received an ARC copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for participation in the the release day launch and for an honest review.

I had bought the first book but had not yet read it when I requested an ARC for review for a release day launch. There are authors that I just know I will love so I continue to collect their books as I see them. This was one of those cases. But, in order to review the second book I had to read the first and I was incredibly happy with the first book. It introduced me to a group of men I was anxious to learn more about. So when I dove into this book knowing I was going to learn a bit more about Shane, I was very excited. Shane's interaction with Crystal started in Hard As It Gets and continues through this book.

Shane has always been the guy who seems to have a sardonic smile plastered across his face and not a care in the world. Little does most know, but he carries a heavy burden with him. He lost his baby sister at a tender age and has regretted it all of his life. It is this lapse in diligence that makes him a determined soldier. At least until he was disgraced along with the other men of his unit and cut adrift from the military. Now, he has been called back by his long time friend and unit second-in-command, Nick, to help retrieve the son of his biggest enemy. To say he is hesitant to help is putting it mildly, but after Nick's pleas and the chance to clear his name and restore his honor, how can Shane say no. This decision brings him face-to-face with Crystal.

Crystal is in a bad situation. After her father's death she is put in charge of caring for her epileptic sister and repaying the debt her father had with a notorious gang. She works as a waitress in a strip club and treads lightly in her abusive relationship with enforcer, Bruno. Crystal helps Shane and his men recover his ex-commander's son and is inadvertently dragged into their world. She must decide whether to play it safe and bide her time until she can be free of the gang's clutches or rage against them and help those who could possibly take them down. Add to that, a smoldering sexy man who seems determined to help her any way possible, and a very confusing situation for Crystal.

Crystal is damaged, but so is Shane. Can these two ragged souls come together and start to heal all while taking down an organization that may have been at the root of Shane's problems in Afghanistan?

Another beautiful installment in the Hard Ink series by Laura Kaye. I don't know what else to say that doesn't just gush love and admiration for the world she has created. As a southern myself, I am liking the southern gentleman air of Shane. That coupled with a military man and tattoos. Yum to the infinity squared.

I even found myself sympathizing with Crystal. I wanted so badly for her to find peace in her life after the crap storm she has had to deal with. She made me look at my trials and tribulations as nothing but small potatoes.

Hard As You Can is the second book in a series that is likely to be one of my favorites for quite some time.

Available at:
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"I didn't mean to criticize you, Crystal. I just cannot abide violence against women. Period. Especially not someone I know." A long pause. "And definitely not someone I like." After everything that had happened to her, the words were a balm for her psyche.

Footsteps came up behind her, slowly, cautiously, like she was a wild animal who would bolt in an instant. And she supposed there was some truth to the analogy.

Torn between returning to the danger she knew or staying with the one she didn't, Crystal debated. Her heart told her Shane might well be the most dangerous man she'd ever met because he made her want, wish, maybe even dream.

Not at all sure it was a good idea, Crystal slowly turned.

Shane was right in front of her. A rock in the middle of a raging sea, a refuge she might claim if she had the strength and the will and the nerve to fight for it. To believe she deserved it. She hugged herself.

"Hey," he said, cupping her face in his big hands. His fingers slid behind her neck and gently massaged.

She shook her head and glanced toward the treetops in an effort to pinch off the sting building behind her eyes. Why did she have to meet him now? She'd had a plan, and all she'd needed to do was follow it for a few more months. "You don't even know me."

"No. Not everything. But I know more than, a little. And that much I like enough to want to know more." His fingers rubbed her neck, gently, soothingly.

And his words, well, his words were perfect. Maybe even too much so. Too good to be true, she thought. "I already told you I'd share what I'd learned. You don't have to play me."

His eyes narrowed, and he frowned. "You listen hard and you listen good, sweetness, " he said, the words firm but the tone urgent, almost desperate, and laced with his southern accent. "I'm not perfect, and God knows I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. But I would never play with a woman's emotions to get information out of her. That kind of manipulation doesn't hold with me. Ever."

Sweetness. She'd heard everything he'd said. The passion with which he'd said it. The sincerity that burned from his gaze as the words had poured from his lips. But it was the term of endearment that reached into her chest and gripped her heart. For a long moment, they stood there, bodies touching, faces inches apart, his hands holding her in the firm-but-gentle way he had.

Thunder rumbled again, closer this time, and her heard was a drum beat double-timing inside her chest. If his hands didn't feel it racing, he'd have to hear it, because the sound was a loud rush, rush in her ears. Beneath the sports bra and tank, her nipples went hard. If his gaze dropped, she knew he'd see, but she couldn't bring herself to feel self-conscious about it. Not when he was looking at her like he wanted to devour her.

His gaze dropped to her lips.

She shuddered, everything inside her but the smallest voice of reason crying out for him to do it. Just once.

"Tell me not to," he said, his voice a raw scrape.

About the Author:
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.