We are coming to an end with Laura’s Hard Ink Series. All we have left is Nick & Becca’s Wedding but I get the feeling we may see a few faces especially after reading Hard As Steel, Laura’s crossover book into the Raven Riders.
About HARD AS STEEL: A Hard Ink/Raven Riders Crossover Novella
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.
Hard As Steel is Jess & Ike’s novella and its both hot & rocky. We’ve gotten to know both characters a little since Hard As it Gets. Granted we only really saw the gruff biker side of Ike. Jess is pretty much what you see is what you get, and even in her and Ike’s story she’s the same way.
Hard As Steel, picks up where Hard to be Good left us with Jess’s place being broken into and Ike taking her to Hard Ink, and the face off in Hard to Let Go. Ike is/has taken Jess out of the city toward the Raven’s compound. To protect Jess, Ike issues 3 rules which of course Jess breaks within the first few hours of being in hiding.
After breaking one of said rules we get to see the different sides of Ike and fall in love with him. His softer side comes out as he protects Jess in every way he can. Yet through most of the novella we never know which Ike we’ll get, the sweet, caring Ike who cares about Jess or the hard ass biker who doesn’t want love in his life and only lives for his friends and club. This Ike pisses me off to the point I want Jess to tell him to fuck off multiple times and never look back.
Jess, unlike Ike’s steelly heartless side, loves with her whole being. She’s open to love and willing to put up with a lot from the people she cares about. She does things her way and doesn’t apologize. With that said she does try to mask her affection for Ike knowing he doesn’t feel the same and never will.
Jess and Ike let down their guard a time or two and open up about their past. Both hold on to guilt from past events that close them off from others. Ike more so then Jess. These tragic events shaped who they are and how they love. For Ike it closed him off from not just love but a fulfilling life.
Because of Ike’s past he really does make a mess of his relationship with Jess. Which causes Jess to say as little as possible to him for a time. This is when he’s an asshate for about three days. Granted when the shit hits the fan and they find out Jer & Kat are in the hospital Ike steps up and is there for Jess when she needs a shoulder to cry on.
When these two love, it is hot, raw and rough. When they fight its down right bloody (figuratively). Its a wild rollercoster ride with Jess & Ike. I wish there was more story for them. Hopefully we’ll see them at the Wedding and in the Raven Riders Series.
This is a must read and you won’t want to put it down until Ike pisses you off and you want to throw your book, ereader or phone.
“To bad. I need to carry you,” he said. He regretted the admission but couldn’t deny the truth of the words.
Ike grabbed her wrist and hauled her to him. He was on her everywhere.
She’d dropped the towel, which meant she was totally buck-ass naked in Ike’s big arms, and she couldn’t have cared less.
She’d seen it enough to know that she’d love to have a good reason to dig her fingers into that tat…
Her gaze snapped to his eyes. “Huh?” Hopefully the warmth crawling up her cheeks would pass for a fevered flush. Because she was so busted.
He looked her over from pigtails to short-shorts. He wanted a bite, all right. “Ugh, no. Thanks, though. Happiness is all yours.”
Fuck if that last possibility didn’t make the blood go from a simmer to a low boil in Ike’s veins. He almost felt like the fever was back, though he knew it wasn’t.
Funny thing about having choices taken away from you–it tended to make things all kinds of crystal clear. You either felt relief all the way into your bones because it was the right decision even if you hadn’t made it, or every cell inside you cried out in rebellion and loss and regret because you learned–too late–what it was you really wanted.
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:
“Last rule while we’re here,” Ike said. “No busting my balls.”
“I wholly object to that one. I’m already going to die of boredom out here. You have to let me have some fun.”
Ike got right up in Jess’s space, so close that she had to tilt her head way back to look him in the eye. “You think I don’t see how you use humor to deflect when you’re scared? But I see it, Jess. I see you. So let me be clear. You are not gonna die. Not on my watch.”
A riot of reaction erupted inside Jess’s head. The uncertainty of being laid so bare. The scary satisfaction of being seen when Jess always worked so hard to only reveal what she wanted of herself. The red hot lust caused by Ike’s hard body being pressed so close to hers.
Despite the heat inside the house, Jess nearly shivered at the intensity Ike was throwing off. She became aware of him the way you become aware of the electricity in the air before a summer storm—slowly, insistently, magnetically. Her lips parted as she scrambled for a response, but her nipples were pebbling against his chest which made her wonder if he’d be able to feel her piercings there.
Ike took a small step backward, but it was enough to break the crazy physical connection pinging between them. Had he felt it too?
“Okay, so, no dying,” she said. To her own ears, her voice sounded like a throaty purr. “And, um—” She swallowed hard, trying to gather her wits about her. “—the boredom part?” She peered up at him, hoping against hope that she wasn’t the only one as affected by whatever had just passed between them.
Ike’s eyes narrowed as if he was on to her game. “Nick and his team know what they’re doing. Hopefully this situation will get resolved fast and you won’t have to be here that long.”
“Right,” she said. Jess hoped that, too. She wanted her friends safe and their enemies to be gone. For good. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder if Ike was eager for her to be out of here. In all the years she’d known him, she’d never been to his apartment in the city, nor had he ever invited her out to the Ravens’ compound for any of their parties or the races they ran at their dirt racetrack. It had always felt like, on some level, Ike held her at a distance. That there was a part of his world he didn’t want to share—with her, at least.
And now, here they were for the first time ever, hidden away from the world in a tiny cabin. All alone.
Right. Ike wasn’t here with her because he wanted to spend time with her, he was here because she’d asked for his help, because he was a good guy, and because he knew she needed protection.
When Nick’s team finished its investigation and nailed their enemies, she’d go back to her regular life, and she and Ike would go back to being friendly colleagues. It was already embarrassing enough that everyone knew she’d unknowingly slept with one of the bad guys. The last thing she needed while they were stuck together here was to make it clear how much she wanted Ike. And cared about him. Despite the fact that she had no chance with him whatsoever.
Which meant Jess needed to put her fantasies about Ike Young aside. Once and for all.
About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. 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.