Published by Entangled Publishing on February 20th 2017
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Ex-special forces ranger Dylan McCourt is a stone cold killer who cares only about his military brothers and doing what’s right. He’s used to giving orders and has zero patience for bullshit. Most people tremble when they look him in the eye, but not his infuriatingly sexy new rescue mission, Jessie Lyon. She just juts her chin and says she’s not leaving without clearing her father’s name, to hell with his rules. And was that a one finger salute he sees in her eyes or his imagination? Either way, he knows this is one job his training might not have prepared him for.
With a bar doing a roaring trade as a cover, a brotherhood of ex-military men tries to make the world a better place on their own terms as ‘Hard Play’ opens with the rescue of a woman hell bent on revenge. But she is not who she seems when a video feed forces her to prove her innocence all around her.
‘Hard Play’ runs on the fuel that drives most romantic suspense books and thus, isn’t very much a deviation from this tried-and-tested formula: a search for the bad guys (who do get their comeuppance), the emphasis on getting injustice righted, clearing names and fighting for the oppressed—accompanied by a ton of fast-moving scenes with loads of action in them. Throw in the kind of gritty James Bond-esque (though not always believable) explosive chemistry between the protagonists who somehow always manage to find time to do the sweaty-dirty and the book’s pretty much made, although the HEA isn’t assured up until the end.
In some ways, the book didn’t surprise me at all, yet the story’s easy to go down enough and I was nonetheless entertained going through the paces of classic romantic suspense here, especially with strong characters that do stick out from the pages. Dylan McCourt and Jessie Lyon spearhead the series and they’re likeable and sensible enough, though once again, stereotypical of this genre, minus (thankfully) the shenanigans that tend to pop out unexpectedly when conflict is created for conflict’s sake.
‘Hard Play’ is my very first book by Sheryl Nantus and whether it really bears comparison to authors like Maya Banks—as proudly touted by the blurb—isn’t something I think I’m qualified to agree or disagree with quite yet, because there’s always something about the first book in the series that makes me cautious but somewhat optimistic. All it took were a few lines detailing the secrets that other members of the brotherhood were keeping (yet to be uncovered) and the bait is thrown out for the sequels in this series.