Friday, October 2, 2015

Hard as Steel (Hard Ink #4.5) by Laura Kaye: Blog Tour Review w/ Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

After identifying her employer's dangerous enemies, Jessica Jakes takes refuge at the compound of the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club. Fellow Hard Ink tattooist and Raven leader Ike Young promises to keep Jess safe for as long as it takes, which would be perfect if his close, personal, round-the-clock protection didn't make it so hard to hide just how much she wants him—and always has.

Ike Young loved and lost a woman in trouble once before. The last thing he needs is alone time with the sexiest and feistiest woman he's ever known, one he's purposely kept at a distance for years. Now, Ike's not sure he can keep his hands or his heart to himself—or that he even wants to anymore. And that means he has to do whatever it takes to hold on to Jess forever.


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Review by Yvette:

While novellas aren’t my preferred choice when it comes to book-length, Laura Kaye has previously proven herself to be more than capable if packing a well-rounded story, complete with emotions, conflict, and romance, into an abbreviated amount of time. While Hard As Steel is a crossover novella between the author’s Hard Ink series and her upcoming MC series, Raven Riders, the story stands on its own, following the between protagonists, Ike Young and Jessica Jakes. Not only is Hard As Steel an emotionally compelling friends-to-lovers romance, but it’s hands down the sexiest book this author has written. The sexual tension…the combustible chemistry…the outrageously steamy love scenes with a side of kink – after I finished, I just wanted to give Laura Kaye a high five for a job well done.

Because the timeline overlaps with events from the Hard Ink series, Hard As Steel takes place during a lull in the action, instead focusing on the development of Ike and Jessica’s romance. This is a character-driven romance with two larger-than-life characters whose personalities simultaneously clash with and complement each other. The combination of the gruff and overprotective, tattooed biker, Ike, with the vertically challenged yet formidable force that is Jess is immensely entertaining. What should be a dark and ominous mood considering their situation is instead light-hearted and humorous because of their teasing repartee. Passionate, dirty (in the best possible way), and no-holds-barred, the romance between Ike and Jessica is too intense and all-consuming to be ignored. Oh how I wished this was a full-length novel, not because the story wasn't complete or satisfactory, but because I simply wanted more of Ike and Jess – more emotions, more love scenes, more everything.

What I love most about a good friends-to-lovers romance is that effortless connection between the two characters, the one that makes you fear for their friendship once their relationship combines physical and emotional intimacy. From their good-natured ribbing and their obvious concern for each other’s wellbeing, it’s evident that Ike and Jessica are close, yet there’s a wall between them, behind which each hides their true feelings for the other. The sexual tension between them is deliciously agonizing, their mutual attraction like a physical presence, silently urging them to act on their pent-up desires, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. If Hard As Steel is any indication of what the Raven Riders series will be like, I can’t wait to get my hands on those books.

*complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars


About the Author:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in paranormal and contemporary 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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Excerpt:

I’m thrilled to be here celebrating the release of my 21st book, HARD AS STEEL! After a midnight break-in at her apartment, close friends and Hard Ink Tattoo co-workers Ike Young and Jessica Jakes are forced into hiding—and forced to confront the feelings they’ve always denied for one another. I have always adored friends-to-lovers and forced proximity stories, and HARD AS STEEL delivers that and more, including a taste of both my award-winning and best-selling Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series! Check out this excerpt:

“Night,” she said, heading up the steps.

“Night,” he replied, watching her hips sway in a pair of silky black shorts. Combined with the form-fitting black tank top and those perfect-for-grabbing pigtails, she was going to make it damn hard for him to fall asleep tonight.

Damn hard, indeed.

He turned out the light and went horizontal, the soft couch so comfortable against his sore back even though it was a little too short to fit his whole body. He adjusted his erection, willing it to get with the no-sex-with-Jess program. Problem was, in the quiet darkness, Ike could hear her moving around in the loft. Soft footsteps on the wood floor. The shifting of covers. The squeaking of the box spring. And all that did was invite his imagination out to play. Easy since he had so much material to work with after sleeping with Jess wrapped around him the past two nights.

His shoulders and chest knew what the silk of her hair felt like when it skimmed over his skin. His hip knew the heat of her core when she slept with her knee across his thighs. His hands had memorized the curve of her lower back and the shape of her biceps and just how much of her luscious ass he could fit in his palms.

Ike knew what her mouth tasted like, how tight her legs could wrap around his waist, and how fucking beautiful the combination of ink and steel was on her skin.

Jesus, his cock was never going to let him go to sleep at this rate.

And was it fucking hot in here or what? He tossed the cover off, wishing he had a ceiling fan downstairs, too. Something for the to-do list around this place.

Ike sighed and flung his hand over his head. And wondered why the hell he was torturing himself this way.

He could just go up there and get in the bed—and take what he wanted, and what he knew Jess would be only too happy to give. Neither of them was immune to the mutual attraction that had always been there between them. And her reaction to his kiss the other day made it crystal fucking clear that she was waiting for him to make his move.

Jess had plenty of one-night stands and casual hook-ups. Ike knew she was perfectly capable of handling that kind of relationship.

Except.

Except Ike wasn’t a clueless idiot, and he wasn’t in the habit of doing things he knew damn right well would hurt someone he cared about. Jess wore her emotions like she wore her ink—out loud and unapologetically. He had a pretty good idea that she was rocking some more-than-friendly and more-than-physical feelings for him. Right now, she thought them unrequited, and that kept a kind of sexually tense equilibrium between them. But if he let himself off the leash—even just once—he’d very likely raise and dash her hopes, give her all kinds of mixed signals, and screw things up royally between them.

He shook his head and heaved a deep breath. If he wasn’t going to go the distance with her, he had no business taking the first step.

End of.

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