Release Day Launch - Hard As You Can (Hard Ink #2) by Laura Kaye ~ Excerpt, Ava's Review and Giveaway
Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | iTunes | Kobo
“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”
It’s release day! And I’m thrilled to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.
Today, I’m excited to share Shane and Crystal’s first kiss! Don’t you love first kiss scenes? Gah! I so do. *grins* Here we go:
“Tell me not to,” Shane said, his voice a raw scrape.
“I can’t,” Crystal whispered in a shaky voice. “I don’t want to.”
Shane’s body took over then, all urgent need and basic instinct. The rest of the world be damned. He pulled her in and kissed her, his lips devouring, his tongue exploring deep. Nothing held back. Nothing denied. Not even as her lips reawakened the sting from the cut on his lip. Totally worth it.
Crystal’s arms came up around him. She trembled against him, and Shane wasn’t sure if it was caused by adrenaline or fear. Unable to tolerate the thought that she might feel forced, he eased off.
She moaned and held him tighter, like his retreat had made something snap within her. Their kisses deepened, and her body moved against his, sinuously, maddeningly, desperately.
They tasted one another again and again, giving in to the heat that had sparked between them from the moment Crystal had collided with him at Confessions. Little nips and bites of lips and teeth warred with long, sensual strokes of tongue that stole his breath and made him instantly hard. The sting in his lip, the throb of his GSW, the aches from Nick’s asskicking, every bit of it faded away—no, her touch made it all go away.
The few times they’d spoken, Crystal had most often been guarded, tentative, fearful. Just as she’d been when he first kissed her. But, now, she was revealing a passionate woman who could be fearless, giving and receiving openly and without hesitation. Christ, the thought that this fierceness was the real Crystal slayed him because it meant she was burying and denying her true self, not because she wanted to, but because she had to.
No, because someone forced her to.
The thought reminded him of the bruises on her arm. Shane had known this woman for three days, and twice in that time she’d been hurt by another man. And both as a consequence for things Shane had done.
A crack of thunder echoed from the heavens, making Crystal jump and gasp into his mouth.
“I’ve got you,” he rasped around a kiss.
Part of him wanted to say more, to tell her he had her and he’d keep her safe. But he couldn’t make himself give up her heat, her sweetness, her obvious hunger—for him.
So he made her a silent promise instead.
Never again, Crystal. He’ll never hurt you again. Not on my watch.
Because Shane McCallan had made a mistake like that once. And, as bad as his sister’s disappearance had been, something’s happening to Crystal would actually be worse because Shane knew it was coming. The one break he’d ever given himself over Molly was that he’d had no way to know she’d be abducted. Didn’t excuse the role he played in allowing it to happen, but he couldn’t have known. But with Crystal, while he might not know when or how this Bruno asshole would strike out to do the ultimate damage, it was all but a done deal at this point. Always was with guys like him. And Shane would go to the grave before he let it happen, before he failed another female for whom he cared.
Because he did care. Made no damn sense given how long he’d known her. And the timing was beyond piss-poor. But there it was all the same.
So that’s Shane and Crystal starting to give in to what they feel for one another – I hope you enjoyed! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!
"Once, there'd been a girl named Sara, and her life had been good. One day, Sara would live again. . . Until then, she'd wait. And act. And survive."
*I received an ARC via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*
Following on from Hard as it Gets, the mission continues but this time Shane McCallan takes the spotlight.
Shane was the perfect combination of a guy for me, the man was all tough exterior, that would fight to the death for a comrade and loved one but at the same time he had a heart of gold. He was carrying around a world of guilt from the pain of his childhood and that had given him a superhero complex, he felt the need to save any girl in trouble, it eased the guilt he would forever bare. Crystal, a waitress at the club that held Charlie, was no exception. From their brief run in, Shane knew she needed his help, he just didn't realise she would be the game changer for him. The way that man could turn from tender, sweet and protective to downright Alpha had me melting in my seat *sigh* he's a keeper!
"Last thing he wanted was for the team to worry he'd lost objectivity because he'd gotten attached to the girl. Even though, damn, he was kinda getting attached to the girl. And wasn't that a red-handed smack in the ass."
"One of them was being terrorized by a man Shane absolutely burned to kill with his bare hands. When he and Bruno finally met face-to-face, Shane was going to bathe in the bastard's blood and dance on the dust of his bones."
"You don't have to show me, Crystal. But you do need to know there's nothing on your body I won't love and respect. Because it's you."
Crystal, or Sara as she was known before her mix up in the seedy world of the Churchmen, was working hard at Confessions, paying off her debt that her father left to her and her sister. Crystal was mixed up with Bruno, one of the top dogs and even though Crystal abhorred her life she knew if she could survive a few more months then her and Jenna could flee. Only thing Crystal didn't count on was Shane McCallan entering her world and saving it.
"He made her want to throw caution to the wind and, for just once in her life, take what she wanted. Openly. Wantonly. Unapologetically."
"Crystal pressed her hands to her chest. Not wanting to lose the feeling suddenly expanding within. Because the constant sensation of emptiness that had left her cold for so many years was gone, replaced by something new. Foreign. Scary."
"Crystal-no, Sara-was very likely falling for Shane McCallan."
I really loved Crystal and Shane together; they were two broken souls needing to find their other half who could heal them. Crystal had suffered due to the debt her father had left and for that, she bore the permanent scars, but she would do it all over again to keep her sister from that world. Shane was broken from the loss of his own sister and he still felt guilty over those circumstances. My heart broke for him and during the scenes with the butterfly necklace, my tears couldn't hold back any longer. If I had one wish, it would be for more Crystal and Shane time, with the set up of the characters and Bruno being Crystal's boyfriend, they really didn't have much time together. I felt the balance of action and romance wasn't as even as it was in the first story and I yearned for more scenes with Crystal and Shane. Again the timeline is really short so it was only a matter of days before Crystal and Shane were declaring strong feelings for each other, this did cause my allergy of instalove to flare up, but I did love these characters so I was able handle it.
"You're so good to me, Shane McCallan. Do you know that? You're the best man I've ever known."
"It's easy to be good to someone when you love them the way I love you."
So much happened in this instalment of the story, as well as the investigation taking shocking twists and turns, Shane finding Crystal and wanting to help her and her sister Jenna, it was also about the five fallen soldiers repairing their own relationships. Shane and Nick especially had some ill feelings towards each other, once the air was cleared, the group grew tighter and their bonds were imperative as they discovered who they were up against and realised the cover up was bigger than any of them ever imagined. It was great to witness the character growth and the relationships form with each of the characters, I really hope to see them strengthen and continue with each story.
"Something special had happened these past few days. They were becoming a family born of choice rather than blood."
Once again, I really enjoyed Laura Kaye's writing; I was absorbed in this gang and their mission. My nerves were fraught every time they had to leave the safety of Hard Ink and I was repeatedly willing Shane to just scoop Crystal up and keep her safe. I found myself highlighting many passages, as I loved the imagery and the phrasing was often poetic, the story really was well-written.
"Because they weren't just fighting for their own honor. They were also fighting for the honor of six good men who could no longer stand up for themselves. Doing right by those men wasn't a choice, it was a duty."
"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."
The story line is just heating up and shows no sign of slowing down, again the couple's story is resolved for the most part but as far as the mystery surrounding Becca and Charlie's father, well as one question is answered, another three appear in its place. I love that the mystery has held my attention for the two books so far and I really can't wait to have all answers. Easy's story is up next and I do wonder if Jenna will appear more heavily in that one. I look forward to the next instalment.
If you love hot guys from the Special Forces, mystery and action with a whole lot of sexiness thrown in, then you need to check out this series today!
Read my review of Hard As It Gets HERE
Laura will also be hosting a Facebook party for HARD AS YOU CAN on today from 12-9pm EST. You can join the fun HERE
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.
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