Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Military
Mass Market Paperback $5.99 (384 pages, AVON)
Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.
Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can--and never let go.
Author Site: website
Rushed Romance, Fluid Plot (4 stars)
After bumping into Shane McCallan in the pages of HARD AS IT GETS, Crystal Dean helps the men of Hard Ink. Twice. During the encounter the pair feel an attraction the becomes the root of the romance for HARD AS YOU CAN. But Shane has a lot of baggage from his past that makes him both a caring kind of guy and at times, a bit of a liability to the team. If he wants to continue the mission to uncover the link between the Church gang and Frank Merritt he's going to need Crystal's help but at what cost to her?
Crystal has spent the past four years enslaved to the Church gang and Bruno, the man who is supposed to protect her. Helping Shane could put her in danger and she has to think about her younger sister's safety before crossing Bruno and the gang. Shane makes her feel safe, makes her want more for herself, and helping him would be the right thing to do... but is the price for helping him too steep?
Man did I love these two! Shane and Crystal are wonderful characters that I think most of Kaye's fans will just eat up the way I did. He's a little tortured but the kind of man who would never hurt a woman. She's willing to sacrifice all of herself to protect her sister. They're the kind of people you'd want on your side in a crisis. But I had a hard time buying their romantic progression from strangers to saying "I love you". It was VERY rushed thanks to the timeline of a handful of days and they barely had any time to get to know each other really. Sometimes that works but in this case it felt forced. If you can get past that and love a suspense plot, then that element of the book will be excellent.
As a suspense story I really enjoyed HAUC. The continued search for answers kept me rivited even when there were a lot of talking and waiting scenes to get through. Kaye has a great grasp of dialog and it was easy to guys as real people, I felt like I was back in my Army wife days reading the quips of the guys. As the story progresses we get to know the rest of the team much more and one of my favorites, Easy, gets set up for his story (which is next in the series). There's also a big break in the mission that kind of cliff-hangers the plot in a deliciously good way and the introduction of some allies in the Raven Riders MC. (Please, please, please let Kaye do a Raven Riders series next!!!)
If you enjoy the writing of J.R. Ward, where there's romance met equally by a solid series story arc, you definitely need to be reading this series. While HAUC was a little shaky on the romance side it was still a great read that kept me engrossed and lead into the next story very well. I can hardly stand the wait for HARD TO HOLD ON TO.
Notes: ARC received via publisher.
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