Hard to be Good (Hard Ink #3.5) by Laura Kaye ~ Book Review by Brandilyn

Hard-to-be-good Title: Hard to be Good (Hard Ink #3.5)

Author: Laura Kaye

Publisher: Harper Collins

Cover Artist: unknown

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Blurb:

Two damaged men.
One dangerous mission.
One healing love.
These are the men of Hard Ink.
Hard Ink Tattoo owner Jeremy Rixey has taken on his brother’s stateside fight against the enemies that nearly killed Nick and his Special Forces team a year ago. Now Jeremy’s whole world has been turned upside down by the chaos—and by a brilliant, quiet blond man who tempts him to settle down for the first time ever.
Recent kidnapping victim Charlie Merritt has always been better with computers than with people, so when he’s drawn into the SF team’s investigation of his army colonel father’s corruption, he’s surprised to find acceptance and friendship—especially since his father never accepted who he was. Even more surprising is the heated tension he feels with sexy, tattooed Jeremy, Charlie’s opposite in almost every way.
With tragedy and chaos all around them, temptation flashes hot, and Jeremy and Charlie can’t help but wonder why they’re trying so hard to be good …

Brandilyn’s View:

The first question I ask an author when they ask for a review of a book in a series we have not reviewed is, “can this title be read stand alone?” When they reply yes, that gives me certain expectations. I think I have mentioned those expectations before. I expect a complete story arch. I expect to understand how the main characters met. I expect to be able to follow the action within the sub-plots despite not being invested in what came before. I expect to be able to walk away with all the answers relevant to the story presented.

Hard to be Good by Laura Kaye series for me and a new dynamic for her. It is her first M/M Romance title. She does have one MMF to her name, but I was interested to see how she handled not having a woman in the mix. As you all know, I don’t read het. All the rest of the Hard Ink series is het. After being assured there was enough explanation to not need to read the preceding works, I decided to give it a shot.

So here is the deal. The writing was good. There were excitement and friendship and love all packed into a novella format. We were able to see Jeremy and Charlie go from friends to more. There wasn’t a drawn out love story. It was a little bit of tension and then sex and confessions of undying love. But I got the feeling we missed quite a bit of the story.

We are repeatedly told that Charlie was a kidnap victim and that he and Jeremy met as part of Charlie’s rescue. The keyword there is “told”. I never connected with Jeremy and Charlie as individual characters or a couple because most of the character building was done outside of this installment. I can not speak to show versus tell on a larger scale, but I can say we weren’t shown much in this installment, beyond the sex.

And let’s talk about that sex for a minute. Virgin ass and 10″ member with barely any prep? Not going to happen. Sadly, as a veteran of the M/M genre that was not the only issue I had with the sex scenes or the way the characters interacted.

While I applaud, the authors attempt to include a more diverse pairing, and I love the geek/bad boy coupling as much as the next geek. The proliferations of lines such as

“Let me,” Charlie whispered, brushing his hand away. He kissed Jeremy’s shoulder, his back, his arm as he fisted Jeremy’s cock and fucked him so goddamn good. “Love you, Jeremy.”

It was the words that did it. Jeremy was suddenly right on the edge and falling fast. “Fuck, gonna come.”

combined with the questionable sexual choices makes be curious as to what point in the process Charlotte became Charlie.

There is a major arc throughout this series. Something about a betrayal, a kidnapping, and lots of people shooting at things and blowing things up. I am assuming it spans all the books, and if I had read the other titles, I might have a clue in hell what is going on. It is a significant part of this install, but as I came into the middle of the story I was completely lost. I couldn’t keep the players or events straight because they were meaningless without the context.

I debated how to rate this title. If it were handed to me as a standalone, it would be a two-star. There is just too much missing. Knowing it is intended to be read as part of a larger series, I gave the story the benefit of the doubt. I assumed that we would get Jeremy and Charlies whole story if we read the whole series.

If I were to take the entire story arc out of the mix and judge only on the M/M love story itself, I still have issues that I can not get past. Most notable of which is that this did not feel like an organic male/male pairing. It felt like a male/female pairing with one of the genders switched, but not the mechanics or the personality. It felt very much like the author just wasn’t comfortable enough with a male/male pairing so she fell back on how she would write a male/female pairing and shifted some pronouns and genitalia.

I would read another M/M title from this author; if only to see if she grows into the genre.

Buy Links

Harper Collins
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks
iTunes / iBooks
Barnes & Noble

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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2 thoughts on “Hard to be Good (Hard Ink #3.5) by Laura Kaye ~ Book Review by Brandilyn

  1. It’s disappointing that this is the second review I’ve read that indicated the story really doesn’t work as a stand alone. The one Laura Kaye story I have read I really liked so I was interested in her writing m/m, but at the moment I’m not ready to read 3 other m/f books to get there (although I’ve heard the series is very good).

  2. Thank you Brandilyn. I’ve been on the fence about this book since I won’t read the M/F books either. If it doesn’t work as a standalone, I’m probably not going to read it. I appreciate your honesty.

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