Author: Incy Black

Hard to Protect by Incy Black

Hard to Protect by Incy BlackHard to Protect by Incy Black
Published by Entangled Publishing on March 20th 2017
Pages: 297
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Volcanic hot and ambitious Special Agent Will Berwick doesn’t give a damn what his orders are; he’s not taking the enemy—the lovely but arctic Dr. Angel Treherne—to bed. Oh, he’ll root out her secrets, but on his own terms.
Caught up in a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, Angel trusts no one—certainly not alpha-cocky, cunning Will Berwick. First he’s hostile, then he’s charming. Why? What’s he hiding? With her life on the line, she needs to know. Preferably without losing her heart in the process.

Will Berwick and the frosty Angel Treherne first meet as patient and psychotherapist, until Will, after months of medical leave, is tasked with a honey trap for the good doctor and her apparent deception where her missing brother’s concerned. But Angel is as stubbornly arctic, and extremely smart to catch on with a veneer of icy control as Will is unsuccessful in his seduction attempts. But the game of hunter and hunted becomes muddled as soon as Angel decides to turn the game on Will himself.

I’ve always like Incy Black’s writing—and that’s my not-so-secret confession here. It’s flashy, confident, with just the right tinge of exaggeration, sharp insights and quotable quotes that make all my senses sing and tingle. ‘Hard to Protect’ has all these hallmarks and more, although it bears a sort of similarity to the previous books in the series: a high stakes run, a conspiracy theory, the tide turning ever which way, a temporary alliance between the protagonists because of it, and everything as always, takes a turn for the unexpected when the climax finally come into play.

Nonetheless, I loved reading both Angel’s and Will’s back stories which came together in pieces, loved their antagonistic start and the blackmail that they hold on each other. There’re elements of tragedy in Angel’s and Will’s lives, screwed up familial relations and the questioning of what loyalty really means in friendship and these little twists made the story very easy to get lost in—the weirdness and quirky bits aside—and I’m so glad to see this series finally rolling on after a long, long break in between books.


Hard to Hold by Incy Black

Hard to Hold by Incy BlackHard to Hold by Incy Black
Series: Hard To #1
Published by Entangled: Ignite on April 28th 2014
Pages: 268
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Anna Key Marshall is about to get what she's always wanted: a baby. Granted, it's through a sperm donor instead of her ex-husband, but you can't have everything. She has no idea why someone wants her dead, but she'll do whatever it takes to protect her unborn child—even if it means turning to her ex, the Black Ops specialist who broke her heart.
Five years ago, British Intelligence agent Nick Marshall slammed the door on the woman who betrayed him. But now Anna's back in his life with a vengeance, pregnant and full of attitude. He'd like nothing better than to walk away, but with her life on the line, he has no choice but to do what he does best—protect her at all costs.
As old wounds resurface, Nick begins to doubt his version of what went down with Anna so long ago. And he begins to believe they might have a second chance together. But with Anna's would-be killer on the loose—it will take the full force and fury of his protective instincts, fueled by a powerful love he can't leave behind, to hold on to the woman he still loves.

‘Hard to Hold’ is a difficult book to review, not least because of what I’d initially expected and what I’d gotten.

There were too many times when I wondered if I was reading about adults imprisoned in their past and consequently only knew how to be children (perhaps that is really Incy Black’s point). My head was pounding with the outpouring of emotions from Anna and Nick and if I hadn’t already gotten an idea of their dysfunctional relationship by the first chapter, it had certainly been hammered deep by page 45. The sheer screaming, yelling and emotional manipulation, while detracting from the chemistry that the characters could have had, seemed better suited to an opera and left me exhausted, helped along by prose that’s a little too dramatic and perhaps indirect for what I’d initially assumed to be a suspense/thriller novel.

The ending hadn’t sufficiently explained Nick’s sudden personality transplant and while I loved Anna’s spunk and her HEA, I was left more baffled than satisfied as I turned the last page. I also hadn’t managed to get a solid foothold of the context of the novel; granted, it’s Brit Intelligence and London here, but I went through the book with the disconcerting feeling of ‘rootlessness’ because there aren’t any memorable markers that make both place and location stand out.

There are sufficient hints however, of Fortress and the secret service that I’d love to read more about and now that I’ve just found out this could well become a series, I’d be more than willing to see how and where Incy Black takes this story arc.


Hard to Forget by Incy Black

Hard to Forget by Incy BlackHard to Forget by Incy Black
Series: Hard to #2
Published by Entangled: Ignite on October 6th 2014
Pages: 258
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Four years ago, Commander Jack Ballantyne followed Special Agent Lowry Fisk into a death trap. Fortunately, both of them lived to tell the tale, but when he had Lowry drummed out of the British Intelligence Service for her own safety—and his own peace of mind—he knew she’d never forgive him.
Lowry Fisk knew, she just knew, that the Assassins, the secret black-ops unit of the Service she and Jack belonged to, had a mole. And as the Assassins Commander, Jack should have believed her, even though she had little evidence beyond a gut feeling. But when he hadn’t, she’d taken it upon herself to find the traitor—and ended up assaulted, shot, and left for dead. Jack had come to her rescue, but it had been too little, too late. Now all she wants to do is forget the attack, the Service, and the sexy, steely-eyed Commander with the power to make her feel weak.
But the mole is on the move, and he’s coming for Lowry to finish what he started. Jack has to get the stubborn, dangerously gorgeous woman to let him back into her life and allow him the Assassins to protect her—without allowing her to worm her way into his heart.

I read ‘Hard to Forget’ straight on the heels of ‘Hard to Hold’ and felt that this book, unlike the first, was spectacular in every way.

Black seems to have found a more balanced, grounded writing voice in this book, and the result is a gritty and absolutely riveting tale (with some ludicrous moments of hilarity and heavy irony) of betrayal, forgiveness and redemption between two people who have much to lose as well as gain by the end of the story.

Incy Black’s heroes – Nick Marshall and Jack Ballentyne – are tortured souls, demonstrating a hardened brutality and impenetrable crust that made me wonder how her heroines actually get through them. The usual spiel of pushing someone away because of the fear of hurting them directly or indirectly is repeated here, but I loved how eloquent Incy Black articulated the nature of the demons that haunted Jack.

Jack, like Nick, is a much less likeable hero than the sort I’m accustomed to and my own sympathies for at least half the novel lay mostly with Lowry, but it’s impossible to ignore how much he grows into someone who’s finally worthy of her – which of course, accounts for a satisfying end. I only wished this had come before Hard to Hold (the events here seem to take place before the first book) so I could simply catch up on Jack, Lowry and their lives after the Service.