** Since I read this one back-to-back with Hard as It Gets, I would be making comparison here and there **
Oh, this book is a major failure for me in so many level. Load of baggage that as big as mine if I want to travel for a month. Instant-love that just a HUGE turn-off. And DRAMA.
Let me listed out the things that didn't work for me
Seriously -- Shane met Cystal in just MERE days (maybe what, 4-5 days?) In which he only spent FEW TIMES with her -- since he lived at Hard Ink and Crystal was 'trapped' in an abusive relationship with one of the bad guys -- but they were VERY MUCH IN LOVE and he was ready to take of her and Crystal's younger sister forever and ever and ever? Nope. Didn't buy it.
Look, in the first book, Nick and Becca practically had a case of instant-love as well, in a mere week. But somehow in that book, I was able to let it go, because in addition to the suspenseful situation, Nick and Becca built their relationship in close counters, since Becca moved in with Nick after her apartment being thrashed off. So I could somehow bought that.
In here? Not so much! When Shane told Crystal (or Sara, her real name) how much he loved her around 90%, I was ready to DNF. My eyes were rolling so hard I was worried it would fell out of their sockets.
Oh, and I wasn't a huge fan of Shane being totally out of character in his intensity around Sara as well. I cringed when I read how he put a listening device without her knowing, even if it was for the good. Nor was I a fan of Sara's martyrdom complex (heck even her sister was upset with her decision). Basically, these two didn't work for me.
Also, having first time sex AFTER you got a phone call that your sister was in total danger and would probably be tortured or sold off as sex slave? Yeah. A big fat no on that either. While Nick and Becca also did their deed when Charlie was still missing, at least Becca didn't really 'hear' anything from the bad guy.
Let's see ... Shane had a kid sister who was missing when she was eight years old so he has been walking around with guilt.
Sara dropped out of university so she could somehow pay her father's debt (I think? That part was rather blurred to me) and ended up being a waitress at a strip club owned by very bad gang. She was also trapped in an abusive relationship with one of the gang members because if not she was in danger of being sold in some human trafficking operations (I guess at one time she was imprisoned in their dungeon and being whipped ... again, blurry moments).
Aside from human trafficking case, there was also guns selling, bunch of bikers (I think) ... or as I would call it, just throw any kind of bad things in this book!! It was just too much. It felt unfocused and way over the top! Because of that, the mystery surrounding the Colonel, and the account money, and what actually behind the cluster-fuck that ended the military careers of these men was overshadowed....
SO DISAPPOINTING! Especially because that premise is what attracted me in the first place.
The only thing that makes me want to go back for book #2.5 and #3 is the guys. Again, I've invested myself in their brotherhood. I LOVED the camaraderie between them (the reason for my extra 0.5*). Most especially whenever I read about Marz or Jeremy. Gah I loved these two. Which is why I really, REALLY, want to read about Jeremy/Charlie coming in April. So I'll continue, but maybe I keep my expectation low for the next books.
Since I read Hard As it Gets, I have been dying for Derek’s story. A book written about a hot, but physically flawed man had my full attention. Could it be written with the sexiness and heat that Laura Kaye is known for, but also come across as vulnerable and real?? Because seriously, most romances are written about hot, perfect looking specimens of male flesh that might have a cute, quirky character flaw, but ultimately they are something you would see sculpted in marble in the finest museums in the world. Now, the other books in the Hard Ink series have dealt with scars, both physical and mental, but I can’t remember ever reading a romance about a man that’s an amputee. Needless to say, this intrigued me.
Well, let me say one thing….
She pulled it off!!!! Completely, honestly, vulnerably, and most of all sexily. Derek is so, so sweet, and funny, and down to earth, and then on a flip of the coin he is smoking hot, domineering, with a dirty mouth that just makes you swoon. He is everything you would put on a checklist for the perfect man. And you know what?? His leg adds a complete other layer to him that makes him, in my book, the man of the year. I know I should focus on both characters, and Emilie is kickass awesome, but Derek totally stole the show for me.
If you have read the other Hard Ink books, it’s a guarantee that you’ll love Hard To Come By even more. The normal Hard Ink camaraderie between all the men is there, and to me, that’s one of the main reason I love this series. There’s one line in the book that’s my favorite, because it totally sums up this series. It’s:… “ She felt a little ridiculous as she walked into the upscale grocery store, a team of muscled badasses following her.”… And that is the hotness known as The Men of Hard Ink. They protect what they love, they fight for what they believe in, and they make us wish they were ours!!
This is yet another 5 star read from Laura Kaye!!
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Hard as you can features the romance between Shane McCallan and Sara aka Crystal Dean. I'm really liking all the characters including a dog named Eileen. These books are based on 5 men of the Special Forces Team who fought together in Afghanistan. Their leader betrayed them and they've made it their mission to uncover the secret the colonel was hiding and to restore their honor.
Crystal first appears in Hard As It Gets when Nick and his team rescued Charlie from Church's Gang. She bumps into Shane again.