• Hard As It Gets

  • A Hard Ink Novel, Book 1
  • By: Laura Kaye
  • Narrated by: Seraphine Valentine
  • Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (782 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

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 . . .

©2013 Laura Kaye (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Hard As It Gets

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Can't wait for the next book

What made the experience of listening to Hard As It Gets the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the dialogue and characters. Nicks brother Jeremy is great. Of course the growing, hot intimacy and love between the main characters is the most compelling.

What other book might you compare Hard As It Gets to and why?

This does follow the basic romance novel formula and had most of the typical story lines of woman meets man, there's some reason they don't get together at first - or some reason that would keep them apart. It has a bit of the possessive "you are mine" type storyline - but this one differs in that the formula is there, but it's much more palatable than most. (I like romance novels, but wish - oh how I wish most weren't an insult to being an intelligent, independent woman who is also a romantic. I tire of reading formula novels. I think most of these authors all attended the same seminar on how to write romance novels.

In Hard As It Gets, I found the characters to be likeable and the romantic situations to be more believable than most. She does a good job of building characters.

What about Seraphine Valentine’s performance did you like?

Her performance was excellent. She really gave the characters life. I like the way she took her time narrating Becka so you got the feel of her being fresh and honest, but also fun. She was good at changing the pace of the story to suit what was happening.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Well, to be honest, It made me steamy! It's very, very hot and sexual. The dialogue did make me grin sometimes.

Any additional comments?

I wonder how she will handle the second book in the series. If it will continue the story between Becka and Nick or if she will use this world, but concentrate on a different couple as many romance series do. After all, you only Fall in love once — usually! I hope she continues with Becka and Nick. I liked them. I've started listening to it again.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

2 things you should know before you buy...

I wish I had known these two things prior to investing in this series. 1) the narrator, especially in the first book, speaks really slowly. I listened to the whole thing on 1.25 to 1.50 speed which, while annoying, was less annoying than listening at normal speed. Take a careful listen to sample first. Narrator did have good emotion and distinct characters. 2) the over-arching story doesn't come anywhere near getting resolved. I'm guessing you'll have to listen to all 5 or 6 books before you see the head bad guy get his comeuppance -- whoever that is because I still don't know. I think I was expecting that solving this one crime would band the friends together again, and then maybe they'd start their own business. I was thinking each book would be a separate crime and a new relationship. I'm feeling a little mislead but reluctantly pulled in. Felt a little like a bait & switch. I thought I was buying a complete story but what I got was a fairly complete romance and about 1/6th of a crime novel. Grrr...

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Intence, Heartfelt, Action Packed And Sexy

Becca Merritt has lost most of the people she loves. Her brother died far too young, and her father was killed during a Special Forces assignment in the Middle East. Now, her younger brother has gone missing, leaving behind nothing more than a cryptic clue, and Becca is determined to save him at all costs. Following up on Charlie's final message, she tracks down Nick Rixey, one of the men on her father's Special Forces team, now co-owner of a tattoo parlor with his brother. But rather than the helping hand she was expecting, Becca finds Nick buttoned up, tough as nails, and utterly unwilling to have anything to do with Becca or her family's issues.

Nick has spent the months following his return from Afghanistan closing himself off from his remaining Team members and desperately trying to come to terms with the betrayal that ended his military career. When his commanding officer's daughter shows up in his tattoo parlor, looking as sweet and innocent as can be, his first instinct is to send her packing. But the more he thinks about Becca's brother—and Becca herself—the more he knows there is more going on than a simple missing persons case. Before either Nick or Becca realize it, they are in the middle of a war with an organized drug ring, and the only men that Nick will trust to aid them are the men of his team. The men he turned his back on so many months ago.

One of the most pleasant surprises of this book was the depth and complexity of the two main characters. Nick may have all the traits of a dyed-in-the-wool alpha male, but he is also sweet, deeply emotional and able to admit when he is out of his depth. The events surrounding the attack on his team is still shrouded in mystery, but the scars he bears, both physical and mental, are clear, present and clearly painful. As the daughter of his commanding officer, Becca's presence, at first, is a threat to every wall Nick has thrown up and every defense he constructed to forget his past. But as they work together, she becomes the key to his salvation, and it's marvelous to watch how much they both make each other grow, develop and change.

The supporting cast that Laura Kaye has crafted, from the rest of Nick's team to Becca's adopted puppy, from Nick's brother Jeremy to his older P.I. buddy, is three-dimensional, sympathetic and completely engaging characters. I can't wait to meet the rest of the team in more detail, thanks to the tantalizing introductions to their personal stories we received in this book. Even the villains of the piece have an interesting story to tell and will no doubt keep the suspense high for the rest of this series.

Laura Kaye has created a steamy, surprising and totally engrossing romance, but she has also crafted an absorbing mystery, with plenty of suspense and intrigue. The two elements work extremely well together, without inhibiting the development of either. I cannot wait to watch the rest of this tough, sweet, tense and funny series unfold. If the debut is any indication, this is going to be a series to remember!

Seraphine Valentine was outstanding with the delivery of the story. Some listeners did like her narration but I thought the reading was great.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Narrator did not suit the story...

Any additional comments?

This could of been a great listen but the Narrator - Seraphine Valentine - just didn't suit the story. Sadly I couldn't finish the book...

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Story....

This is a good story that would be common But Laura Kaye gave it a different spin. He doesn't want to like her but he does and she doesn't know why he is resisting....her father betray his men making her blood of the enemy. According to them anyway.Her brother gets involved, he is an innocent in all of this. There is kidnapping; torture and some really different twists from what could of been common. Love Finds a Way....I love it.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Soooo above my expectations

Could not stop listening. The plot is superior, characters are fleshed out and emotions are more realistic, interaction is believeable. This author knows that a lot of sitting around swearing and drinking an alpha male does not make. These guys were just gritty enough without losing touch with reality. I did not once roll my eyes during this book. I can not wait to get the next book. The narrator was superb. There wasnt one thing I didnt like about this book. Well done, I had been waiting for just this story. It is so TV or movie worthy.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

TATTOOS, MUSCLES, MYSTERY & A GREAT ROMANCE

It's all been said before in the glowing reviews of this very well-written story that picks up speed the moment Becca finds Nick. Then it continues to add layer after layer to the exciting and thrilling plot such as sizzling chemistry, mystery, secrets, cover-ups, organised crime, torture, a group of damaged Military Special Forces men, romance, sex, betrayals, nerve-racking pulse-pounding action, comradeship, compassion and a love story that, through it all, survived.

Worth a credit? Great characters, addictive listen, passionate love story with nice sex scenes, awesome start to a series and the promise of something big to follow. Well worth the credit.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Really good start to the series. :D

4-4.5 stars

This was a really good story. I liked both Nick and Becca and enjoyed their story. This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it enough I've already bought the next book in the series to start next.

Becca is an emergency room nurse and has lost all her family except her brother, Charlie. Her brother got mixed up in something bad and is now missing and Becca's determined to get him back. Charlie left her a message to go to their father's old team (their father was a commander of a special forces team) for help. Becca goes to Hard Ink looking for Nick (the second in command of the team) but is surprised to find herself turned away rudely without even a chance to explain what she needed.

Nick is a good guy but isn't in a good place when the book starts. He spent years in the special forces but because of a corrupt commander, he and the members of his team ended up blamed for the something that wasn't their fault in a cover-up and forced out of the Army in dishonor. Nick felt a lot of guilt for not seeing what was happening beforehand and has isolated himself from his team since they all got back to the US. Nick has been working as a Process server and doing tattoos for his brother on the side. Nick wasn't prepared for the daughter of the man that betrayed them to come looking to him for help. He sends her away but has trouble forgetting her.

Regardless of the fact that Nick sent Becca away without hearing what was wrong, he couldn't forget her and ends up checking up on her. At one point he's outside her place when she's just gotten home and he realizes someone else is in the house with her. Becca isn't a stupid woman though and is already making her way out of her house (without alerting the intruder) as Nick goes to help. The intruder escapes and Nick insists that Becca should come stay with him. Considering his past attitude, Becca isn't sure why she should trust Nick but he eventually convinces her it's not safe to stay where she is. Once they're somewhere safe, Nick gets the whole story from Becca and knows he has to help her out because she's not guilty of her father's actions and doesn't even know about them. By this point, Nick is feeling very protective of Becca and is determined to help her out. As he starts to help her he discovers things are much worse than what he originally thought and that things may go as far as corrupt police that aren't even filing the reports for the issues Becca's been having and Charlie being missing. The more he discovers, the more sure Nick is that Charlie found something out about his father's dealings and was kidnapped due to that. Since the police are of no help, Nick realizes he needs help and the only likely source is his old team.

Since Nick has isolated himself from his old team due to guilt, he doesn't exactly get a warm welcome when he calls his teammates for help but they still come. They're rough on Nick for a bit due to his isolationist actions but as they start working the case, things between them all start getting back to something good. The team isn't too sure about Becca either but she soon wins them over with her warm attitude. While the team investigates leads to find Charlie, Beacca and Nick become close quickly and soon the attraction between them explodes. Nick messes up in his initial handling of things but soon realizes his mistake and does better. Nick realizes very quickly that Becca is something special and worth fighting for. Becca is actually a great heroine. She's strong but still very sweet and she's smart...no TSTL moments for her. Even when she's under duress she's able to keep her head on straight. Once Nick got his act together and they started seriously in the relationship I think they complimented each other very well. There's some danger and more investigating as the case progresses. There's some drama as Becca discovers what happened between Nick's team and her father but over all she did very well at handling everything. I liked the way Becca and Nick's relationship came together. It was quick but considering the strong initial attraction and the intense situation they were in at the time, the quick time frame doesn't necessarily seem all that rushed. The action story line is not exactly resolved...the issue with Charlie is handled but the team isn't able to get the info they need to clear their names. The books ends with the team (and Becca and Charlie) pledging to stick together and do whatever it takes to bring the truth to light. And of course, Becca and Nick start their HEA. :)

This was a very enjoyable story. I really liked Becca and Nick and liked how their relationship worked out. I really liked the story, both the action and romance story lines were well done and well balanced. I also liked some of the more light parts of the story, like Becca saving the 3 legged-dog and the ensuing arguments about the dog's name. And the banter between the members of the team or Nick and his brother (Jeremy, who was a very cool character). I found the story and characters to be interesting and engaging and I didn't want it to end. I'm starting book #2 immediately so hopefully I can sustain this book high a bit longer. I'd recommend this book. Thumbs up! :D

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Finally a woman who is strong & feminine.

If you could sum up Hard As It Gets in three words, what would they be?

Strong, steady, and powerful.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Nick was my favorite character, showing a man can be honest about feelings but not seem weak in any way.

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many to pick one. Lets just say there are many in this book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely. I listened to this book all through the night until it ended, and then went back to listen again.

Any additional comments?

This book was a complete surprise and unforgettable. I am was very pleased with this purchase and would have paid more for it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I'm returning it

Yes, I'm returning the book...but I wanted my followers to know that I didn't like this book and when you return a book you can't write a review....so....

The premise has been done about a million times. Girl in trouble seeks out father's old military team insert army, seals, marines here. Guy doesn't think he deserves girl due to all the "bad" stuff he has either gone through or done. Girl can't get closed mouthed military guy to open up...etc...etc.

There were a few unique twists, and I will say the hot scenes were done VERY VERY well, but overall the book had me turning it off several times and when you add that to the fact that this isn't a stand alone book, well it kind of irked me. Instead of being a stand alone book about 1 member of the team finding love it has a back story about drugs, money, dirty cops, gang bangers, and a big coverup that doesn't get resolved in this book.

If you are at all sensitive to police on the take, or military people on the take, or about the idea that a branch of government would abandon soldiers and ruin their lives for the sake of a coverup...yeah don't read this book.

All in all I'm not intrigued enough to read book 2 in this who-dun-it romance story, and I found the whole premise to be flawed. I have no idea why it has such rave reviews, but it won't be getting one from me.

3 people found this helpful

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  • LilleyLoohLah
  • 10-18-15

Sooooo good

Any additional comments?

Absolutely loved this audio. Becca's brother is missing and she goes to Nick for help. Nick was in the Special Forces with Becca's brother and part owns and works in a tattoo studio. They team up to try and find Becca's brother. Love, lust and intrigue. Thoroughly enjoyable with lots of sexual chemistry.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-08-15

Nick Ricksy

What did you like most about Hard As It Gets?

its got love, action & a little payback in mind

Who was your favorite character and why?

Nick but i also loved Jeremy

Which character – as performed by Seraphine Valentine – was your favourite?

Nick Ricksy

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

ex special forces & the nurse

Any additional comments?

loved it looking forward to the rest

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeann1ec
  • 12-04-14

Great

Would you listen to Hard As It Gets again? Why?

Yes! Great story with strong characters.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Hard As It Gets?

When Becky found Eileen the dog!

What about Seraphine Valentine’s performance did you like?

Great voice, brings the story alive!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes, it's so well written!

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly enjoyed the book, both the story and the performance.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss
  • 08-06-14

Were we talking about the same book?

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

convincing plot and characters maybe?

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Trying to compensate for lack of material? Over enthusiasm and melodramatic acting just gets trying after a while.

Any additional comments?

I read the reviews for this and can't believe it is the same book. Very hackneyed and over-sentimentalized characters with little development, especially the characters other than the 'main two'. Unconvincing plot - I kept listening, waiting for it to bet better. It didn't, and ended partway through the plotline, obviously so you would buy the next book. I won't be doing so.