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 the final book in the Hard Ink series. It serves as a link between the Hard Ink and Raven Riders MC (a spin off of the Hard Ink) series. It's like a mini introduction to the Ravens. I didn't need any more reasons to read the RRMC books when they are out, but I have added a few more. It's just a glimpse of how they work, but for me it was enough.
From the previous books in the series it was obvious that something was going to happen between Jessica and Ike. It finally does in this book and it wasn't in a way I was expecting. Things built and built up until they finally did something about it. I liked how things worked out between them. The one moment I can't get out of head while thinking of this book is when they taking care of each other while the other is sick.
The story is happening around the time Kat and Jer were at the hospital in Hard to Let Go. The characters have their troubled past and they try to work things out. In about 100 pages the author managed to do something that most authors can't. She made some tragic back stories for Jessica and Ike, made them fall in love, introduced the Ravens to the reader, made them broke up and finally gave them their happy ending and she did all that without making anything seem rushed, out of place or unnecessary.
For me Hard to Be Good and Hard to Hold on To are more stand alone than Hard as steel. This novella equally belongs to the 1001 nights series and it does to Hard Ink so I am going to recommend to the potential reader to read the other book in the series first.
Excerpt: Be Nice
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:
“Any better?” Ike asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Jess peered up at him. “A little.”
His eyes narrowed. “You’re still cold now, aren’t you?”
She shivered and pulled the cover tighter around her shoulder. “Yeah.”
“Fuck.” Ike scrubbed a hand over his bald head and mumbled something she couldn’t quite make out. “Maybe I shouldn’t have put you in the tub after all.”
“I think it was the right thing, Ike. I was so out of it. It is better than it was before.” She worked at a small smile. No matter how bad she felt, the last thing she wanted was to make him feel bad given everything he was doing for her. As if he hadn’t already gone out of his way in giving her a place of refuge and his personal protection for as long as she needed it, now he had to play freaking nursemaid to a sicky. Which, on top of everything, was super attractive.
The only upside to that ice-cold bath was that Ike had gotten wet and tossed his shirt, and Jess thought she might be willing to be sick more often if it meant getting to see him shirtless. Because, holy bad-ass tattooed biker on a stick, he was so freaking hot. Cut muscles, ink everywhere, two insanely delicious indents low on his waist. And scars Jess had never seen before and had no idea how Ike had gotten.
All that goodness and Jess couldn’t even see the big Ravens tat that she knew covered Ike’s broad back. But she’d seen it before, back at Hard Ink when Jeremy occasionally did a new piece for Ike. She’d seen it enough to know that she’d love to have a good reason to dig her fingers into that tat…
Oh, for fuck’s sake, even sick she couldn’t stop fantasizing about what it would be like to be with Ike. Just once.
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.
“I, uh, asked if you thought it would help if I got in with you.” The expression he wore said he was dubious about the idea.
And as much as Jess loved the idea, she didn’t want him doing anything with her that he didn’t really want to do. “That’s okay. Why don’t you go get some sleep now? It’s gotta be almost morning.”
He looked at her for a long moment, and then he tapped his hand against her arm. “Scoot over.”
“Damnit, scoot your scrawny ass over already.” He cocked an eyebrow, humor sliding into his eyes.
“Well, I’ll scoot over,” she said as she made herself move. “But you and I both know there ain’t anything scrawny about my ass.”
“Jessica?” Ike said as he got in next to her wearing only his jeans.
“Yeah?” The minute he was down, she nearly dove into the crook of his body, her forehead against his neck, her breasts against his ribs, her bare legs intertwined with his denim-clad ones. She wasn’t sure where to put her hand, because the not-sick part of her brain wanted to touch him everywhere right now oh my god I’m in bed with Ike! But she settled for resting it on his chest, the hair on his pecs ticklish against her fingers.
“Shut up and go to sleep.” He took the edge off the words by clasping her hand in his and pressing it more firmly to his skin.
“Be nice to me. I’m sick,” she said, burrowing in further.
Ike wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her tighter against him. God, he felt good, warm and hard and strong. “Woman,” he said, his voice full of gravel. “This is me being nice.”
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.