Author: Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #1
Publication date: November 26th, 2013
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Tall, dark and lethal...
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy wholesome--pure temptation to a very jade Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.
With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protest her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.
Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge...
I purchased the book on a whim from Barnes & Noble as I was on my way to the checkout. I had heard a few good things about the book, but was curious to branch out of the paranormal genre and start reading a bit more romantic suspense or contemporary. This fit both of those genres and featured one of my favorite subject matters. Tattooed men. I hadn't sat down to read the book until I was presented with an opportunity to read the second book in the series for a book blitz. Of course, I had to read the first one before the second. It was not time ill spent.
Nick was still reeling from his less than stellar dismissal from the military and the loss of some of his military brothers in an ambush in Afghanistan. He also has not let go of the anger and betrayal that his commanding officer had unleashed on him and his team. So when the ghost from his past's daughter comes to his place of business at Hard Ink Tattoo, Nick's immediate reaction is to send her away. And he does so, but he can't shake the draw he felt for the blonde haired, blue eyed beauty nor could he shake the gut reaction that helping her could ultimately change his life for the better.
Becca did not know why her missing brother's last message had told her to seek out Nick Rixey, her father's second in command, but a part of her was glad. Nick was a whole lot of yummy man and despite his no nonsense persona, she could see that he was a war-hardened hero capable of finding and returning her brother to her safely. Reluctantly, Nick comes around to helping her and so starts a very confusing hunt for her computer savvy hacker brother.
Along the way, the couple learns that Becca's brother, Charlie's, disappearance may have something to do with the situation with their father that ruined Nick and his surviving teammate's lives. Now, not only is it vital to find Charlie for Becca's sake but also to find out what Charlie may know about possibly clearing Nick and his teammates' names. Add to that a budding romance between the spawn of the man Nick hates with every fiber of his being and the the wounded soldier Becca only knows as someone her father trusted and you have the makings for a world of mystery, intrigue, and hot, hot romance.
Hard As It Gets was even more "suspensey" than I first thought it would be. I normally gravitate towards fluff pieces in contemporary that features only a very minute dramatic situation and absolutely zero conspiracy theories. This one was not that. This was more action-packed than I would have imagined or liked, but surprisingly, it worked for me. I loved Nick and Becca and their connection to each other. I liked the fact the book featured not only tattooed men but MILITARY men. Be still my heart. To my overwhelming amazement, I actually liked the cliffhanger the book left off on. I usually LOATHE cliffhangers.
To sum it up, Hard As It Gets is a thrilling ride of hot men, thought provoking mystery, predominant intrigue, and sexy romance all rolled into a 358-page work of art worthy of Hard Ink Tattoo.