Series: Hard Ink

Hard Ever After by Laura Kaye

Hard Ever After by Laura KayeHard Ever After by Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #4.6
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 176
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three-stars

Justice served. Honor restored. Team reunited.
After a long battle to discover the truth, the men and women of Hard Ink have a lot to celebrate, especially the wedding of two of their own—Nick Rixey and Becca Merritt, whose hard-fought love deserves a happy ending.
As Nick and the team shift from crisis mode to building their new security consulting firm, Becca heads back to work at the ER. But amid the everyday chaos of demanding jobs and their upcoming nuptials, an old menace they thought long gone reemerges, threatening the peace they’ve only just found.
Now, for one last time, Nick and Becca must fight for their always and forever, because they know that when true love overcomes all the odds it lasts hard ever after.

The incredibly unappealing cover aside, Laura Kaye wraps up the Hard Ink series with ‘Hard Ever After’ and takes us back to the original couple who started it all: Becca and Nick. Their HEA, so hard-earned after the first book, is written here nearly angst-free, save for a loose end that is neatly tied up by the time they say their vows.

But HEAs and I have a mysterious and prickly relationship. Draw it out too long with too many smiles and declarations of love and it takes on a cheesy sheen; don’t write about it enough and I’ll think the couple in question deserved better. If anything, ‘Hard Ever After’ can only be accused of cementing a HEA firmly in readers’ minds, even if the general happiness of all 6 couples in question seems unreal and too bright for my own scepticism. Yet it offered a last glimpse into a (quirky) world that captured my attention for the better part of the last couple of years, so getting this extended epilogue was nevertheless a short, but welcome return to it.

three-stars

Hard to Come By by Laura Kaye

Hard to Come By by Laura KayeHard to Come By (Hard Ink, #3) by Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #3
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on November 25th 2014
Pages: 384
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four-stars

Caught between desire and loyalty…
Derek DiMarzio would do anything for the members of his disgraced Special Forces team—sacrifice his body, help a former teammate with a covert operation to restore their honor, and even go behind enemy lines. He just never expected to want the beautiful woman he found there.
When a sexy stranger asks questions about her brother, Emilie Garza is torn between loyalty to the brother she once idolized and fear of the war-changed man he's become. Derek’s easy smile and quiet strength tempt Emilie to open up, igniting the desire between them and leading Derek to crave a woman he shouldn’t trust.
As the team’s investigation reveals how powerful their enemies are, Derek and Emilie must prove where their loyalties lie before hearts are broken and lives are lost. Because love is too hard to come by to let slip away…

The supposed betrayal of a commanding officer had brought together several ex-Special Forces soldiers under the roof of a tattoo parlour, inciting a breathtaking series of events that unravel the mystery behind their dishonourable discharge from the army. It’s certainly a complicated one with hooks and twists to get the reader invested in the plot and as each book brings you deeper into the conspiracy theory, each delicious ex-soldier gets his chance at love. Which is rather ridiculous, seeing as they’re hooking up like flies after a matter of days.

But the suspension of belief is key to all of this and finally it’s Derek DiMarzio’s turn to hit the deck when he meets Emilie Garza, the sister of a target/asset the team is gunning for in a so-called honey trap that goes awry when he starts to fall for her. The initial hope that Emilie would have something more ‘tangible’ to contribute to the team soon faded away (I was hoping for a kickass, soldier maybe?) but she holds up enough on her own and provides the perfect foil for Marz to lean on. Marz, in particular, left quite an impression. I’ve never come across a character so buoyant, so optimistic and so determined to laugh through his troubles in spite of all the crap in his past, though I’ve to say my heart broke along with Emilie when he confessed no one has ever said ‘I love you’ to him. The fact that he f*cks like a demon adds to that appeal, and I’m just really happy that he’s found his well-deserved HEA.

four-stars

Hard as You Can by Laura Kaye

Hard as You Can by Laura KayeHard as You Can by Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #2
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on February 25th 2014
Pages: 384
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four-stars

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.

It took me a while to get my words together for this review. The action, the questions I have that I just need answered…oh lordy.

While I can’t exactly connect with Crystal and Shane’s insta-love story, Ms Kaye’s portrayal of Shane as an sensitive alpha was endearing and scored heaps of points in making him a very likeable character. Jenna, rather than Crystal, was the show stealer, for all her small moments in this book, serving as Crystal’s not-too-subtle conscience that they were way over their heads with this one.

But the biggest draw of this series for me really, is the ambitious, ever-growing plot (and Jeremy’s funny t-shirts) that I suspect will only be unravelled at the very end when all the guys get their love interests. There’re still many unanswered questions and loose threads that I can’t see coming together yet, but from the build-up, I’m guessing it’s going to be epic.

four-stars