Hard Ink #1
Source: Finished copy from publisher
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Tall, dark, and lethal...
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome--pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.
With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.
Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge...
Hard as it Gets is a fast-paced, low-angst romance, giving us a lead pair who handle everything thrown at them with maturity and make communication one of their top priorities. The result is a relationship that brings a smile to our faces, the perfect amount of heat and tension combining to give us more than a little swoon while sparing us frustration with either party as they start unraveling what's clearly going to be a series-long military-based mystery.
Becca is everything we could want in a heroine, a young woman who's out of her depth when it comes to her missing brother and knows it, leading her to ask for the help she do desperately needs instead of going off half-cocked and trying to fix things on her own. Given Nick is ex-Special Forces, Becca could have easily fallen into one of two categories of heroine: One, she could have played a damsel in distress to the fullest, completely relying on him to save both her and her brother; or two, she could have been bound and determined to be the exact opposite, wanting to prove her mettle by tossing herself into the middle of everything dangerous. Thankfully, Becca creates her very own category, fully recognizing that Nick has skills she doesn't, but at the same time refusing to allow him to run roughshod over her and dictate her every move. She's honest at all times, both with feelings and with any information she has that might help the investigation, and even when she learns what a binding non-disclosure agreement keeps Nick from telling her, she handles it in a way that has us wanting to reach out and hug her for being awesome.
Nick, for his part, is as enjoyable as Becca, possessing an excess of alpha qualities but never once coming across as bossy or overbearing. He has every reason to bear a grudge against Becca's family, but after their initial meeting, he never once holds the sins of the father against either Becca or her brother Charlie, throwing himself wholeheartedly into helping them both. He respects what Becca brings to the table regarding her brother's disappearance, never once disregarding her opinion or relegating her to the sidelines because she doesn't have his training. They're partners every step of the way, and the two of them together delight from first to last page.
Overall, Hard as it Gets is an outstanding first installment to the Hard Ink series, introducing us to a military cover up that will span multiple books, but ensuring we turn the last page fully satisfied with a complete story in this first installment. We also find ourselves acquainted with the remaining living members of Nick's Special Forces team, a group of men who bring a sense of humor and camaraderie to the story, deepening our emotional investment as we look forward to seeing each of them find their own slice of happiness in future books.
This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.