NOTE: This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!
Hard as You Can by Laura Kaye is the second book in the Hard Ink series. It picks up right where the previous book left off, following the plot from Shane’s point of view as he and the rest of the Hard Ink team continue to investigate the Churchmen gang. This leads them back to Crystal, a waitress under the thumb of Jimmy Church and a potential ally.
The whole series revolves around a very complex and suspenseful plot, so I HIGHLY recommend starting with book one, Hard as It Gets. That being said, Kaye is good about succinctly summarizing the important background info throughout the first few chapters, so you won’t be too lost if you dive in with this one.
I’m going to write this review without getting into too much plot detail – it really is intricate, and if you enjoy suspenseful Paramilitary Romance storylines, you will like this one, too!
And yes, there are more tattoos – though not as many as in Hard as It Gets
“This is magnificent,” she said, tracing her fingers over the wing of the aggressive bald eagle that covered his skin from his neck most of the way down his back. Its sharp beak was open as if in a screech, and its talons seemed poised to grasp its prey. “Why?” she asked.
“Eagles are the kings of the birds of prey,” came his deep voice. They’re known for seeing what other creatures cannot and closing in on their prey before it even knows it’s being hunted.”
Aside from the captivating plot, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Shane and Crystal. Shane has Southern Heartbreaker charm down to a science, and Crystal is an incredibly strong person to survive Jimmy Church’s gang and her so-called boyfriend, Bruno. Due to their respective experiences, so much of this story is about Shane coaxing out Crystal’s trust. If you like romances with a substantial chase under seemingly impossible circumstances, this one is for you! While I really enjoyed this installment of the story, I found Crystal’s circumstances exhausting, and upon reaching the end, I was relieved to be facing a perspective change with the next book.
Speaking of the next book, this one was the perfect set up for the next in series, Hard to Hold on To, and I’m not ashamed to say that I dove right in with that one, too. So far, this is a great series and I’m quickly becoming a big fan of Kaye’s work.
Lastly, as an ode to Jeremy’s dirty t-shirt collection, I’ve decided to include my favorite from each book going forward. Here’s the winner from Hard as You Can:
“… a T-shirt with a log-holding beaver asking, ‘Are you looking at my wood?'”
Trigger Warning: Crystal has gone through hell with the Churchmen and her backstory reflects that, including torture and rape. It’s not quite all in the past, either, since she is still under the thumb of her
boyfriend handler Bruno. Please read with caution if rape or abusive relationships are triggers for you.