November 30, 2013

Braine Reviews: Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye + Giveaway

Series: Hard Ink 1
Format: Print ARC
Read Chapter 1
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

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...

Post turkey gobbling, Laura Kaye's HARD AS IT GETS  helped me snap out of my tryptophan coma. It was a great balance of romance and suspense, it's fast paced, tight with tension, sizzling with passion and hot smex. This is my first LKaye read and I promise you, it won't be the last. I love her writing voice and she has an easy way of telling a story. Even on those tricky action packed scenes, she wrote it in a vivid but uncomplicated way which made my palms sweat and had me gripping the poor paperback tight. Gripping!

So what's the story about? The main vein of HARD AS IT GETS is deep going back to Nick Rixley's days in Afghanistan, serving in the military under the leadership of Rebecca Merritt's dad so there's some history by association between the two. Fast forward to the present. Becca's brother, Charlie, is missing and he left instructions for her to seek Nick's help. If not for his insatiable curiosity and instant attraction to Becca, Nick would've left the case alone. As Nick and Becca continue their search for Charlie, the plot gets curioser and curioser involving gangs, dirty cops, drug trade, millions of dollars and a connection to her family that Becca wasn't expecting. 
Her honesty, her touch, her very presence settled a blanket of comfort around him like nothing else had his past year. And he wanted to wrap himself up in it and never let go. How the hell that worked without getting hurt at his hands, without his bitterness and anger weighing her down, he didn't know. - Nick on Becca
I love romantic suspense, it keeps my heart thumping non stop from the sexual tension, bedroom gymnastics and suspenseful action happening alternately. As the plot gets more complicated and dangerous, Nick, Becca and their ragtag team's off-the-books covert operation has that high velocity feel to it that's associated with spy movies or vigilante shows. And as if that's not enough to keep your heart thumping, our two lovebirds are relentless in as far as sexing up the story. Nothing is platonic between these two, even a simple lesson in boxing turned into one hell of a show it made me look up Oscar dela Hoya's old boxing videos on YouTube! Hubba! Hubba!

The list of secondary characters is quite expansive but not dizzying. Adding several key persons in a story where they share several attributes can be quite tricky. If not done well, readers might get confused or fail to differentiate one person to the next. LKaye managed to steer clear of that and gave us individualized characters. My favorite supporting cast would be Jeremy, Nick's brother, and Marz, the computer genius of the team. Jeremy is just a goof ball and Marz is a beefed -up, sexy geek. And I love beefed-up sexy geeks.

HARD AS IT GETS is a fab series introduction. Here I thought I was going to read a sappy, angst filled romance story between a tattoo artist and a walk-in client. Well I sort of got that and so much more. I love the alternating layers of romance and suspense, I love the colorful cast of characters and more importantly, the plot is fantastic. It build gradually until it turned into this monster of a conflict one has to wonder how is Nick's team going to solve this? So yeah, the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger and I can hardly wait for book 2 because I need answers to these questions LKaye herself wrote in:
Who or what is WCE? How was Merritt connected to them? To Church? What were they looking for when they ransacked both [Becca & Charlie] your houses? Who was the "company" tonight at the club? What do these codes go to? When will they strike again because you know they will. - Beckett

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with 
Hero Nick Rixey

I’m very excited to be celebrating the release of my twelfth novel, Hard As It Gets¸ the first in my new super sexy contemporary romance series called Hard Ink. The series has hot, alpha, prior military guys, a tattoo shop setting, an edgy suspense plot, a super steamy romance between hero Nick Rixey and heroine Becca Merritt, and a great bromance.

One of those hot, alpha guys is Nick Rixey, the hero of Hard As It Gets. Nick was second-in-command of her Army Special Forces unit before his commander’s black op went back and injured or killed most of the team. A year later, Nick’s out of the Army on an undeserved other-than-honorable discharge and nursing some deep physical and emotional wounds. I absolutely loved writing Nick’s character, and here are some reasons why I think you just might fall in love with him, too:

Nick has ink. I love tattoos on guys, including in my fiction! And Nick has quite a bit of ink, starting with that awesome tribal on his shoulder on the cover. You’ll get to explore what the rest are along with heroine Becca as the book unfolds! Yummy!

Nick does ink. One of the things I loved about Nick was that he had all these hard edges, but then he had this artistic side. Nick has always drawn and, as part owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, he’s learned how to do it with ink and a tattoo gun. I love the combination! And there’s a really sexy scene where Nick draws a little something with Becca!

He boxes. Jeans. Bare feet. No shirt. Boxing gloves, the kind that leave the fingertips exposed. Muscles in motion. Yeah, that’s a scene in Hard As It Gets.

He’s a good big brother. Nick is big brother to Jeremy, the other owner of Hard Ink. They have great chemistry and an awesome bromance, plus a few intensely emotional scenes I loved writing. And Jeremy’s an awesome character himself!

He’s loyal. Nick would do anything, risk anything, sacrifice anything, for those he cares about. And it makes him so admirable.

He’s tortured. Tortured heroes are my favorite, and Nick is about as tortured as they come. He still suffers physical pain from two gunshot wounds to his lower back, and he carries a world of emotional pain over what happened to his SF unit for which he blames himself. It makes him sympathetic and flawed and just a character you’ll want to hold and make it all better!

He is sexy as hell! See the notes on boxing and ink, above! LOL Nick has dark chocolate brown hair and super pale green eyes. It’s a killer combination. Add to all that a gun holster over broad shoulders and…thud!

He’s prior military. Nick served in the Army Special Forces for a lot of years, and he has taken that code to heart. Loyalty. Honor. Duty. Service. Courage. What’s not to love?

He’s a true hero. Despite how much Nick blames himself for what happened to his SF unit, Nick was a hero on the day the ambush happened, going as far as to help administer medical treatment to another teammate after he’d been shot twice in the lower back. His heroism continues into Hard As It Gets, where he does the right thing and helps Becca despite some serious misgivings about getting involved with his commander’s daughter. He knows the right thing and he does it, making him a true everyday hero.

When he finally gives into love, his redemption is so sweet! The more they resist, the harder they fall, and that’s definitely true of Nick Rixey in Hard As It Gets. I just love when a tortured hero finally finds what he needs to start healing, don’t you?

For me, all of these add up to one seriously hot, tortured, lovable hero, and I hope you’ll fall in love with Nick Rixey just like I have!

Would you like to know more about Nick? Post a question for him or his author lady, and we’d both be happy to chat with you!

Thanks for reading!

“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”
~J.R. Ward on Hard As It Gets

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.

Stalk her!

She's gifting TWO Kindle Paperwhite 3G e-readers, in addition to the FIVE print copies of the book which the publisher is giving away.

Good luck!

Terms & Conditions
The Kindle Paperwhite 3G giveaway is international unless excluded. If your country is not on the list that Amazon delivers to, you will not be eligible win this prize.

Author Laura Kaye is not responsible for damage to the Kindle in transit. All issues regarding this must be addressed to Amazon.

All accessories for the Kindle Paperwhite 3G must be purchased by the winner – the prize is the Kindle Paperwhite 3G only.

Entrants must be 18 or over.


  1. I have not read any of her books...yet! I'm excited to get started :)

    1. This was my first and I was pretty impressed!

  2. I've read and loved The Hero series. Thank you for the amazing giveaway :)

  3. I haven't read any of Laura Kaye's books yet, but I will remedy that fairly quickly! Hard as it Gets sounds like the kind of book I love reading. A mystery, some alpha male characters, some fluff and chemistry. Oh yes, definitely my kind of book :)

    Thanks for sharing Braine!

    I hope you're having a wonderful weekend :) Happy reading.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  4. I haven't had the pleasure of reading one of her books yet, but after looking at some her books Hearts in Darkness looks like a really good read!!!

    1. I personally don't think I can squeeze in her previous works given my looong TBR but if it's as good as this, I'm sure I'll make time for it in the future.

  5. My fave book of hers that I've read so far is One Night With A Hero.

  6. A book that can wake you from your turkey coma is a book for me. :)

    1. Hahaha! If you need another nudge from eating leftovers, you know where to start.

  7. Ahh yeah I loved this one. Jeremy was my fave and so needs his own book! lol at beefed up sexy geeks. Yeah they're pretty darn good too.

  8. I have not read any of Laura's book as yet, but i am hoping to change that soon! Thanks for a great post and giveaway x

  9. I heard many great things about this author and all her books but I confess I haven't tried one yet. I should! thanks for the nice review.

    1. You're welcome, I hope my humble review would push you to look up her books.

  10. I love a good tortured hero!! Sign me up!

  11. I havent read this series yet, but I do love Laura Kaye. She is just awesomeness with her writing style :)

    1. All the more reason that you should read this!

  12. I love West of Want!! Thank you for the international giveaway!

  13. I totally loved this from the characters to the suspense..woot! I cannot wait for book two and am so excited you <3 it too!

  14. I have read and loved many of Laura's books. I guess my favorites would be her Vampire Warrior Kings Series. Congrats on the release and thanks so much for the giveaway!

  15. Oooh thats a tough one I love all her books each one I read it just gets better and better :) If i had to pick it well it was Brady Scotts One Night with a Hero I <3 him but I just finished reading Hard As It Gets and that is now my top favorite! lol Nick is amazing :) and you gotta love Jeremy too!



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