Title – Hard As It Gets (Hard Ink #1)
Author – Laura Kaye
Genre – Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Release Date – November 26, 2013
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…
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Nick sniffed and murmured, and his breathing slowly changed from the slow, shallow draws of sleep to the deeper pattern of wakefulness. “What are you thinking so hard about?” he said, his voice a seductive, raw gravel.
“Nothing,” Becca whispered.
“Bad liar, remember?”
She smiled. Not even awake and he was already a smart-ass. “You’re laying on me.”
He lifted his head, eyes still soft with sleep and oh so bright. “Er, oh, God, Bec—”
“Don’t move, please? I wasn’t complaining.”
“It’s just…” The way he was looking at her, half concerned, half like he might make her every dream come true, had her spilling a fast stream of honesty that was about five point two light-years beyond oversharing. “I’m horny. And you’re hot as hell. And we’re clearly trying to be good. Although, I’m not sure why, exactly. And, anyway, I don’t want you to move. Because I like the feel of you. And I—”
His mouth swallowed the rest of the nonsense spilling from her lips. The kiss was aggressive and needful, his tongue twining with hers, his hands in her hair, his chest atop her breasts. For a long moment, she was so stunned by the kiss that all she could do was give in to the sensual assault. His leg pressed between her legs, hard against her clit, the bunching and shifting of his muscles shoving her step by step closer to the edge of restraint. A stream of moans and whimpers worked their way up her throat until finally she couldn’t stop her hips from dancing against his thigh.
“Nick,” she rasped around the edge of a kiss. “Oh, God.”
“What?” he said, pulling back. He stroked his nose over her cheek to her ear. “What’s the matter?” He eased his thigh away.
Her whimper was full of protest for the loss of him. The sexy bastard chuckled. “Don’t stop,” she managed.
Tracing his tongue around the shell of her ear, he rocked his hips against her nice and slow. “Don’t’ stop what?”
Becca swallowed roughly, arousal making it hard to breathe, hard to think. “You’re teasing me.”
He chuffed out another small laugh in her ear, casting shivers over her skin. “I am.”
Digging her fingers into his hair, she grasped tow handfuls and held tight. “Well don’t. I want…”
Nick’s tongue was in her mouth again, exploring every wet corner and stealing her breath. He pulled back, panting. “What? What do you want, sunshine?”
The nickname tugged her heart into the action, too. Did he realize he said it? “I like when you call me that.”
He bit her bottom lip and tugged, his gaze boring into hers, one eyebrow arched. “What do you want?”
10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Hero Nick Rixey
I’m very excited to be celebrating the release of my twelfth novel, Hard As It Gets¸ the first in my new super sexy contemporary romance series called Hard Ink. The series has hot, alpha, prior military guys, a tattoo shop setting, an edgy suspense plot, a super steamy romance between hero Nick Rixey and heroine Becca Merritt, and a great bromance.
One of those hot, alpha guys is Nick Rixey, the hero of Hard As It Gets. Nick was second-in-command of her Army Special Forces unit before his commander’s black op went back and injured or killed most of the team. A year later, Nick’s out of the Army on an undeserved other-than-honorable discharge and nursing some deep physical and emotional wounds. I absolutely loved writing Nick’s character, and here are some reasons why I think you just might fall in love with him, too:
Nick has ink. I love tattoos on guys, including in my fiction! And Nick has quite a bit of ink, starting with that awesome tribal on his shoulder on the cover. You’ll get to explore what the rest are along with heroine Becca as the book unfolds! Yummy!
Nick does ink. One of the things I loved about Nick was that he had all these hard edges, but then he had this artistic side. Nick has always drawn and, as part owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, he’s learned how to do it with ink and a tattoo gun. I love the combination! And there’s a really sexy scene where Nick draws a little something with Becca!
He boxes. Jeans. Bare feet. No shirt. Boxing gloves, the kind that leave the fingertips exposed. Muscles in motion. Yeah, that’s a scene in Hard As It Gets.
He’s a good big brother. Nick is big brother to Jeremy, the other owner of Hard Ink. They have great chemistry and an awesome bromance, plus a few intensely emotional scenes I loved writing. And Jeremy’s an awesome character himself!
He’s loyal. Nick would do anything, risk anything, sacrifice anything, for those he cares about. And it makes him so admirable.
He’s tortured. Tortured heroes are my favorite, and Nick is about as tortured as they come. He still suffers physical pain from two gunshot wounds to his lower back, and he carries a world of emotional pain over what happened to his SF unit for which he blames himself. It makes him sympathetic and flawed and just a character you’ll want to hold and make it all better!
He is sexy as hell! See the notes on boxing and ink, above! LOL Nick has dark chocolate brown hair and super pale green eyes. It’s a killer combination. Add to all that a gun holster over broad shoulders and…thud!
He’s prior military. Nick served in the Army Special Forces for a lot of years, and he has taken that code to heart. Loyalty. Honor. Duty. Service. Courage. What’s not to love?
He’s a true hero. Despite how much Nick blames himself for what happened to his SF unit, Nick was a hero on the day the ambush happened, going as far as to help administer medical treatment to another teammate after he’d been shot twice in the lower back. His heroism continues into Hard As It Gets, where he does the right thing and helps Becca despite some serious misgivings about getting involved with his commander’s daughter. He knows the right thing and he does it, making him a true everyday hero.
When he finally gives into love, his redemption is so sweet! The more they resist, the harder they fall, and that’s definitely true of Nick Rixey in Hard As It Gets. I just love when a tortured hero finally finds what he needs to start healing, don’t you?
Q&A WITH LAURA KAYE
HARD AS IT GETS is one steamy read! How did you first get into writing?
Thanks so much! And thanks for having me here! I’ve been a writer all my life. I’m a historian by training, so writing non-fiction was a part of my job for the fifteen years I worked as a college professor. But I started writing fiction in 2008 in kind of an unusual way. I hit my head on July 4, 2008. I didn’t think much of it that day, but soon after I realized I’d really hurt myself, and it turned out I had a minor traumatic brain injury. As I recovered, I was filled with an amazing urge to be creative, so I started taking guitar lessons (still not very good at that!) and wrote my first novel in 12 weeks (fortunately, I’m better at that LOL!). The experience of writing that first book was truly transformative. It was what I was supposed to be doing, so I revised that book until it sold and kept writing new ones. And I haven’t looked back since!
Why did you choose to write romance?
I had been an avid reader of paranormal romance for years at that point, so I wrote what I loved. But I also picked romance—unconsciously, I think—because to me it’s an incredibly hopeful genre. Romance stories are inherently stories about people who can’t find love or think they don’t deserve it who overcome the odds and find it in the end. In the years leading up to starting writing, I experienced a number of very hard personal losses, so writing in this genre was one way I worked through those issues.
What does “Hard Ink” refer to? What importance do tattoos play in your story?
Hard Ink is the name of the Rixey brothers’ tattoo shop in the Hard Ink series. Nick and Jeremy Rixey are co-owners, though Nick (the hero of book one, Hard As It Gets) prefers to be more of a silent partner, despite Jeremy’s efforts to put Nick’s artistic talents to work. In this series, tattoos are a way people remember, pay penance, or highlight what’s important to them. The act of creating permanent marks on skin has deep meaning to them. And the shop creates a gritty setting where diverse kinds of people meet and interact in the series. I really love it!
Describe Becca—what do you love most about her? And Nick?
I’d love to! Because I really loved writing these characters!
Becca Merritt is smart and strong and honest and protective. I really loved the way she was willing to stand up for those she loves, even against people and forces who might be stronger and even a little scary. There’s a scene in particular when she dresses down Nick’s Special Forces teammates after a fist fight where I was particularly cheering for her! LOL
Nick Rixey is, omg, so freaking hot, you guys! He’s brooding and tortured and honorable and when he falls he falls so hard. I especially loved Nick’s mix of hard, alpha edges with his artistic side. When Nick shows Becca what her idea for a tattoo might look like on her skin, it’s just scorching!
What significance does the military play in the book?
Military themes are central to the whole Hard Ink series. The military isn’t just sexy window dressing nor is it just there to provide an intriguing backstory. The prior SF guys are this series are entirely defined by their military experience good and bad. It informs their identity, their sense of honor and duty, their view of the world, and of course gives them the skill set required to fight the battles they face in the series. The overall series mystery the characters are working to solve revolves around a military conspiracy in Afghanistan, so even though they’re out of the Army, the military themes are central.
If you could describe your book in a 140 character tweet, what would it be?
In #HardAsItGets, an ex-soldier joins forces w/his dead commander’s daughter to regain his tarnished honor & save her brother from a gang
Is there a particular author or book that has influenced your writing?
There are a number of authors that have influenced me, but if I had to pick one it would be J.R. Ward. A lot of what I know about how to write sexy, authentic male point of view comes from reading her books. And I definitely learned the importance of a good bromance to a romance novel from her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, too. Given my ginormous fangirling, you can only imagine how flipping excited I was when this happened:
“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”
~J.R. Ward on Hard As It Gets
You guys, I bawled like a baby in the middle of a huge workshop put on by my publisher. For real. LOL
What advice would you give aspiring writers looking to get into the publishing industry?
Here’s my advice:
1) Write, write, write. You can’t revise what you haven’t written and you can’t sell what you haven’t written. And the psychological and emotional boost you’ll get from writing “The End” for the first time cannot be overestimated.
2) Revise, revise, revise. That first time you type “The End”? Yeah, you’re nowhere near done. Your book will need to be edited, by you, several times before you ever put it in front of an agent or editor. You get one shot with them, so don’t waste it by not showing them your very best and most polished work.
3) Find critique partners. And your mom, siblings, and best friend do not count (unless you’re really lucky, like me, and your best friend happens t also be a professional author). You need other aspiring writers in your genre who will give you honest but constructive feedback about how to improve your manuscript. Let them catch all the embarrassing goofs and plot holes you thought you caught before it gets to an agent or editor.
4) Want to be a professional, then act it. And by that I mean join the professional organization(s) of the genre in which you write. Through them you will find classes to help hone your craft, critique partner match-ups, networking opportunities, calls for submission, and other opportunities invaluable to breaking into publishing.
5) Don’t give up. You will hear way more no’s than yeses, particularly early in your writing career. Stick with it. Believe in yourself. Give yourself one day to wallow in the rejection and eat a bunch of chocolate and then get right back on the horse. If your first book doesn’t sell, chalk that up to learning and write a second.
What can fans of HARD AS IT GETS look forward to next?
I’m currently writing four series: two contemporary (Hard Ink, Heroes) and two paranormal (Hearts of the Anemoi, Vampire Warrior Kings). I’ll have books from all four of those releasing in 2014. My next release is Hard As You Can (Hard Ink #2) coming 2/25/14!
Link to author video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCb0qdCz4JI
5 Print Copies of “Hard As It Gets”
2 Kindle Paperwhite 3G’s
Terms & Conditions
The Kindle Paperwhite 3G giveaway is international unless excluded. If your country is not on the list that Amazon delivers to, you will not be eligible win this prize.
Author Laura Kaye is not responsible for damage to the Kindle in transit. All issues regarding this must be addressed to Amazon.
All accessories for the Kindle Paperwhite 3G must be purchased by the winner – the prize is the Kindle Paperwhite 3G only.
Entrants must be 18 or over.