Tall, dark, and lethal…
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded 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 protect 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…
*Blurb from Goodreads*
I read one of Kaye’s more erotic novels in the past and really enjoyed it. I was anxious to see what she could do with a romantic suspense setting, and I am so glad that I picked this book up!
Nick has had a rough time ever since he parted ways with the military. He didn’t get to leave on the best of terms, and his life has not gone the way he wanted since his CO turned on the team, got half of them killed and the others to take the fall. When Becca walks into his tattoo parlor asking for his help, he tells his former commanders daughter to stick it.
But Becca really did need Nick’s help, and it only takes a day of following her and his killer instincts to figure it out. But what started as a missing brother and a tossed apartment soon turns into attempted kidnapping, a conspiracy involving organized crime and corrupt cops, and way more than Nick and Becca first thought. As they fight to find Becca’s brother, their feelings for each other will reach a boiling point, at about the same time as their case.
Let me start by saying if you are looking for a book that wraps up the suspense plot in a pretty bow by the end of the book, you might want to wait for the series to be over. While Nick and Becca accomplish a portion of their mission, many – MANY – more questions are asked than answered and we are left hanging and desperately wanting more.
There was so much at play here, so many characters, and yet I loved it all and never once felt lost. The dynamic between Nick and Becca is super strained, especially given Becca’s relationship to the man who ruined Nick’s life. Watching them try to navigate the waters of a romantic relationship was so amazing! I hated that Nick kept secrets from Becca for so long, and yet totally understood why he did. But their romance was so well done. From the sexual tension and Nick’s internal struggles with who Becca was in the beginning of the book, to the tender care he started to show her as he realized just how different she was from her father… it was all so sweet. I loved the stress that secret brought to their relationship, and especially loved the way they dealt with it in the end.
Another fascinating aspect was the interplay between Nick and his former special ops team. Nick had cut ties with them, feeling like a failure, and having them come back together to attempt to clear their names was explosive. I really enjoyed the way their dynamics played out not only within the group, but also with Becca. That aspect of the book was probably one of my favorites, and the guys didn’t even band together until about halfway through!
I both loved and hated the suspense plot. Loved it because it was so intricate and convoluted, it kept Becca and Nick and the team on their toes, but it also kept me guessing. I love when plots can do that. I love being constantly surprised by the twists and turns, and Kaye definitely twisted and turned! However, I am one of those people that hate having loose ends. I hated having more questions asked than answered. Don’t get me wrong, I am DYING to know how it all ends, what exactly went down, and how far the cover up goes. But I HATE not knowing it all now. 🙂
All in all I thought Kaye did an amazing job with this book. The romance was so well done, especially given the level of conflict between Nick and Becca. The dynamics between all the secondary characters was so complicated, and I am anxious to see how it continues to play out. Plus, given the numerous unanswered questions, I am desperate for more in this series!
I give Hard as it Gets a B+