Monday, February 24, 2014

SUNNY: LAUNCH PARTY, REVIEW and GIVEAWAY "Hard As You Can" by Laura Kaye

As Hard As You Can 
by Laura Kaye

Welcome to the Launch Party for Hard As You Can, Book Two in the Hard Ink series by Laura Kaye. Enjoy the little extras including a review, a part of the Hard Ink Dossier, an Excerpt and a GIVEAWAY!

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.

Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets

Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

There is something about a Southern man...pair that with a special forces experience and a heart of gold, you've got a winning combination for a heart-stopping hero. In this book, it is Shane McCallan. 

Crystal Dean has more courage and perseverance than just about any character I've read in a long time.  She is beyond resilient.  Every time I think about what she has endured and overcome, my heart hurts a little.  If any one deserve a little (or a lot) of special attention from an ultimate alpha, it is Crystal.  

The team of Hard Ink is still trying to unravel the mystery of why they were wrongly accused after a terrible ambush that ultimately led to their resignations from the military.  This book takes up immediately after the series opening, Hard as it Gets.  Their search for answers leads them to a confrontation with a criminal gang run by Jimmy Church. Church's enterprises include white slavery, strip clubs and prostitution.  This is where Crystal meets Shane.  

In the midst of all the suspense, this is a poignant love story.  It suffers a little from insta-love, but the author more than makes up for it with the deep tenderness between Shane and Crystal.  Crystal's ability to survive her past is what attracts Shane: " was the survivor in her that really spoke to this soul, that brought him peace and gave him purpose." 

In addition to the connection between Crystal and Shane, it is the team dynamic that draws me in again and again.  There is a strong camaraderie between the members.  Forged from the challenges they faced together, this group is truly a brotherhood - with all the quibbling, quirks, and love you would expect as a family.  

IN A NUTSHELL: Even better than the first, I suspect that each successive book will be better and better.  If you haven't started the series, you need to get the first book now.  


Hero of: Hard As You Can (2/25/14)

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 205 pounds of all-American good guy
Hair Color: Light brown with blond
Eye Color: Gray
Born: 1984
Currently Resides: Northern Virginia

Occupation: Defense Contractor
Known Relatives: Parents, William and Barbara McCallan
Military Experience: Discharged after 10 years, U.S. Army Special Forces
Distinguishing Marks: Numerous tattoos
Biggest Weakness: Guilt over the loss of his little sister when he was a kid
Languages: English, Dari, Arabic
Notable Skills: Intelligence specialist, Medic Training
Drink of Choice: A nice cold beer always works
Preferred Type of Woman: He loves ‘em all
(As visualized by Laura Kaye - fitness expert, Jessie Pavelka) 

First description of Shane (Jeremy’s employee Jess’s), from Hard As It Gets:
A moment later, Jess ducked back around the corner. “Uh, guys,” she stage whispered. “There’s a big-ass male model out here.”
Becca grinned, but Nick flew out of his chair. “Don’t call him that, Jess. It’ll go right to his frickin’ head.”
“Which one?” she asked with a grin as he stepped around her and went out front.

Becca’s description of Shane, from Hard As It Gets:
Just when Becca thought Nick had been gone a really long time, he and another man made their way toward the lounge. And, holy wow, if men could be pretty, this guy was. Tall and lean, his light brown
hair was short on the sides and longer on top, where the blond-tipped ends stuck up this way and that like he’d run his hands through it a million times. His steel gray eyes held a natural smile in their depths, and if God had ever used a chisel on a man’s jaw, it was this guy’s.
“Everyone, this is Shane McCallan,” Nick said in a tone of voice that seemed reserved, even for him. “Shane, this is my brother, Jeremy.”
“The smarter Rixey, I presume,” Shane said with a hint of a southern accent.
They shook and Jeremy smiled. “I like you already.”
“You already met Jess.” Shane shook her hand with a wink, and Becca swore the normally kick-ass woman went weak in the knees. The Shane Effect, she thought, twisting her lips to hide her smile.

EXCERPT with a note from the author: 
It’s release day! And I’m thrilled to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.

Today, I’m excited to share Shane and Crystal’s first kiss! Don’t you love first kiss scenes? Gah! I so do. *grins* Here we go:

“Tell me not to,” Shane said, his voice a raw scrape.

“I can’t,” Crystal whispered in a shaky voice. “I don’t want to.”

Shane’s body took over then, all urgent need and basic instinct. The rest of the world be damned. He pulled her in and kissed her, his lips devouring, his tongue exploring deep. Nothing held back. Nothing denied. Not even as her lips reawakened the sting from the cut on his lip. Totally worth it.

Crystal’s arms came up around him. She trembled against him, and Shane wasn’t sure if it was caused by adrenaline or fear. Unable to tolerate the thought that she might feel forced, he eased off.

She moaned and held him tighter, like his retreat had made something snap within her. Their kisses deepened, and her body moved against his, sinuously, maddeningly, desperately.

They tasted one another again and again, giving in to the heat that had sparked between them from the moment Crystal had collided with him at Confessions. Little nips and bites of lips and teeth warred with long, sensual strokes of tongue that stole his breath and made him instantly hard. The sting in his lip, the throb of his GSW, the aches from Nick’s asskicking, every bit of it faded away—no, her touch made it all go away.

The few times they’d spoken, Crystal had most often been guarded, tentative, fearful. Just as she’d been when he first kissed her. But, now, she was revealing a passionate woman who could be fearless, giving and receiving openly and without hesitation. Christ, the thought that this fierceness was the real Crystal slayed him because it meant she was burying and denying her true self, not because she wanted to, but because she had to.

No, because someone forced her to.

The thought reminded him of the bruises on her arm. Shane had known this woman for three days, and twice in that time she’d been hurt by another man. And both as a consequence for things Shane had done.

A crack of thunder echoed from the heavens, making Crystal jump and gasp into his mouth.
“I’ve got you,” he rasped around a kiss.

Part of him wanted to say more, to tell her he had her and he’d keep her safe. But he couldn’t make himself give up her heat, her sweetness, her obvious hunger—for him.

So he made her a silent promise instead.

Never again, Crystal. He’ll never hurt you again. Not on my watch.

Because Shane McCallan had made a mistake like that once. And, as bad as his sister’s disappearance had been, something’s happening to Crystal would actually be worse because Shane knew it was coming. The one break he’d ever given himself over Molly was that he’d had no way to know she’d be abducted. Didn’t excuse the role he played in allowing it to happen, but he couldn’t have known. But with Crystal, while he might not know when or how this Bruno asshole would strike out to do the ultimate damage, it was all but a done deal at this point. Always was with guys like him. And Shane would go to the grave before he let it happen, before he failed another female for whom he cared.

Because he did care. Made no damn sense given how long he’d known her. And the timing was beyond piss-poor. But there it was all the same.

So that’s Shane and Crystal starting to give in to what they feel for one another – I hope you enjoyed! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!


Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.


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