This month I’m looking at the Hard Ink series by Laura Kaye. This is easily one of my favorite series and every time I think about it I want to re-read it. In fact, I’ll probably end up re-reading it as soon as I finish writing this.
Genre: Suspense Romance
Book Count: 4 Novels, 5 Novellas
While overseas, Nick Rixey’s Army team is ambushed and all but five of the men are killed. It’s only after the attack that Nick realizes their commanding officer, Colonel Merritt who also died, has betrayed them and the military is setting up the survivors to take the blame. With falsified records the team is dishonorably discharged and forced into signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement or risk jail time. The five men have all gone their separate ways in the wake of this tragedy, but none are really living.
When the Colonel’s daughter shows up at Nick and Jeremy’s tattoo shop begging him for help in finding her missing brother, Nick wants nothing to do with her but he can’t stay away. When he realizes that her brother’s disappearance might be related to what happened overseas, Nick gets his team back together and they begin an off the books investigation that quickly gets them in deeper than they ever could have expected.
Content Note: sexual slavery, human trafficking, abuse, rape, torture, depression/suicidal thoughts, amputation/prosthetic
How I Found the Series
I am a sucker for a 99 cent sale on Amazon and in this case it paid off in a big way! I found Hard As It Gets on sale in one of my many daily deal newsletters and it immediately caught my eye. I mean did you see that cover image? Super hot. I will admit that I only glanced at the blurb and was more focused on what I thought was a book about a tattoo shop. I was going through a big kick on tattoo shop romances so I was all for this one. Somehow it sat on my kindle for several weeks before I decided to give it a try on a long weekend.
I was a bit surprised to realize it was a romantic suspense but I was quickly sucked into the story line and devoured every bit of it. I hadn’t even finished the first book in the series and I had already one-clicked all the other books through #3.5 which was the most recent release at that time. I zipped through all the books and couldn’t stop talking about them to my poor husband who probably knows more about this series than he ever wanted to. I only had a short wait for the last book, thank goodness, because I needed answers! I started reading this series in 2015 and I’ve re-read it every year since and I’ll probably read it again in 2018. Hard As It Gets is in my top five favorite books of all time and the series is easily one of my favorites, pretty much tying with my other favorite series, Psy-Changeling by Nalini Singh.
Why I Love the Series
I could pretty much write forever on all the things I love about this series but I will try to contain myself. The biggest factor is the writing. Everything that I love about this series comes back to the writing and Laura Kaye really out did herself on this one because it’s top notch. Each book is filled with action as the team works to unravel the mystery and take down the Church gang. Every character is beautifully written and developed in unique and interesting ways. Every couple is passionate and devoted and mature like the adults that they are.
The characters truly make this series and I rarely come across books where I get so attached to the characters. I was completely invested in their lives and what was happening to them and when I read the last book I was devastated that it was over (though we got 3 more follow up novellas which was a nice surprise). I still feel really connected to these characters and re-reading the series is like getting together with old friends. These guys and their ladies will give you a major book hangover.
I was blown away with how unique each of the characters were written and how they were such a blend of strengths, flaws, convictions, grief, and happiness. These characters were not afraid to feel everything that happened to them. Some of my favorite scenes occur when the group as a whole or small sections of the group are bonding and finding a closeness that builds their trust in each other when there’s no one else to turn to. These books exemplify what is meant by brotherhood and a self-made family that you would sacrifice everything for. There’s also plenty of tattoo related parts so I wasn’t totally left out of the tattoo shop romance that I originally thought the first book would be.
- Pulse pounding action with a satisfying ending
- Incredible writing that sucks you into the story
- Characters you’ll get invested in to the point of obsession
- Tough, devoted, and caring heroes who do what’s right in the face of adversity
- Determined and strong willed heroines, not afraid to fight for what they believe in
- Sexy, tattoo covered men
- All the feels, so many feels
Favorite Books in the Series
Pretty much every single one! I won’t bother writing them out because I’ll just end up listing the whole series. But suffice it to say that each one is amazing and this is definitely a series you want to read in order — preferably when you have an extended period of time with no interruptions.
This is a finished series, but Laura Kaye did write two spin off series that originate from this one.
One of the Hard Ink tattoo artist’s is also a member of the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club and they come to the aid of our group throughout the series. The Raven’s get their own series with some nice cross over.
One of the Baltimore police officers who helps the group also gets his own novella and it’s the beginning of the Blasphemy series about a BDSM club.