Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye Blog Tour & Giveaway


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

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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~The Musical Inspiration Behind Hard As It Gets~

Super 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.

Today, I want to share the musical inspiration behind my writing of Hard As It Gets. For most of my books, I find one song that captures the feel of the story and the characters and I listen to it on repeat over and over and over again! LOL For this book, that song was Linkin Park’s “Breaking the Habit.” Do you know it? Give it a listen:

Here are some of the ways the lyrics of the song related to the story, for me:

Memories consume
Like opening the wound
I'm picking me apart again
You all assume
I'm safe here in my room
Unless I try to start again

This first stanza really captures hero Nick Rixey through much of the book. He’s struggling to heal from both the physical and emotion wounds caused by the ambush that ended his military career in the Army Special Forces and stole his honor. Nick blames himself for what happened to himself and his teammates and above anyone is picking himself apart over it.

I don't want to be the one
The battles always choose
'Cause inside I realize
That I'm the one confused

I don't know what's worth fighting for

Or why I have to scream.
I don't know why I instigate
And say what I don't mean.
I don't know how I got this way
I know it's not alright.
So I'm breaking the habit,
I'm breaking the habit

This stanza really captures Nick’s internal battles, the way he tears himself down over what happened, and the fact that he doesn’t want to feel this way anymore. The idea of him instigating and saying what he doesn’t mean really reflects his initial conflict over Becca Merritt, his deceased commander responsible for ending Nick’s career.

Clutching my cure
I tightly lock the door
I try to catch my breath again
I hurt much more
Than anytime before
I had no options left again

As Nick gets to know Becca, she comes to represent a path out of the darkness for him, despite the fact that she doesn’t know Nick hates her father. So the more she represents a “cure” to him, the worse he hurts because he worries he can’t have—or will lose—what he grows to want when the truth comes out.

I don't want to be the one
The battles always choose
'Cause inside I realize
That I'm the one confused

I don't know what's worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream.
I don't know why I instigate
And say what I don't mean.
I don't know how I got this way
I'll never be alright.
So I'm breaking the habit,
I'm breaking the habit

I'll paint it on the walls
'Cause I'm the one at fault
I'll never fight again
And this is how it ends

That first line represents the tattoo shop, Nick’s ink, and a particular scene where Nick does some drawing… Ahem.

I don't know what's worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream
But now I have some clarity
to show you what I mean
I don't know how I got this way
I'll never be alright
So, I'm breaking the habit
I'm breaking the habit
I'm breaking the habit

So those are some ways that “Breaking the Habit” helped inspire Hard As It Gets. This song really embodied a lot about hero Nick Rixey’s emotions, struggles, and desires. When you read the book, let me know what you think!

~About Laura Kaye~

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. 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.

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!


When I was reading “Hard as it Gets”, I literally felt like I was watching a movie unfold in my mind. The suspense was so thick that it will make you want to keep on reading, make sure you bank on not getting much sleep because I didn’t much as all. I love Nicky Rixey & the rest of the gang, he was sexy, intense, & oh so satisfying for me. Then you have Becca the heroine, some people might view her as being this weak individual but when the timing gets rough she just straightens her spine & except whatever challenge that come her way. The sexual tension between Becca & Nicky will have you so flushed & screaming “get on with it already.” But be warned once they have the sex scene will set your e-reader on fire.  This was the first book I’ve read that was written by Laura Kaye & let me tell you she’s won a fan for life. This book was so well written; I really loved the story line, & let’s not forget the little humor that was evident in this book. Great job my Laura Kaye; I can’t for “Hard as you Can” which is Shane’s story.


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.”
“Then what—”
“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?”

~Introducing Nick and Becca from Hard As It Gets~

I am absolutely thrilled to be celebrating the release of my sexy contemporary romance, Hard As It Gets, the first book in my new Hard Ink series. If you like sexy, gritty contemporaries, military heroes and themes, and even a little suspense, Hard As It Gets is the perfect book for you! *grins*

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Nick Rixey and Becca Merritt, the hero and heroine of Hard As It Gets. They just sizzled together on the page and I really enjoyed writing them. I hope you love them, too! So, without further ado, please meet Hard As It Gets’s Nick and Becca:


Becca’s first impression of Nick
“I’m Nick Rixey. Who wants to know?”

Becca jumped at the deep sound of the man’s voice. Geez. How long had he been standing there? And, big as he was, how had she not heard him approach? It was like he’d materialized out of thin air.

The surprise of his appearance pounded adrenaline through her system. Her racing pulse had absolutely nothing to do with the bulge of his impressive biceps straining the sleeves of his black T-shirt, the hints of ink just visible on his upper arms, nor with his harsh yet darkly handsome face. And definitely not with the way his jeans hung on those lean hips. Right. Definitely not.

Given who her father was, or had been, this was the type of man she’d expected to find at the end of Charlie’s cryptic note. His dark hair was a little on the long side, but the hard edges and leashed strength of his body clearly read ex-military.

Nick’s Job: Process Server, Part-time Tattoo Artist

3 Words that Describe Nick: Tortured, Alpha, Heroic

3 Things he Loves about Heroine Becca Merritt: Her courage, her compassion, the way she takes away his hurt

Who could play Nick if the book was made into a movie? Tyler Hoechlin hung above my desk for months (in fact, he just may still be there!), so he’s got the look for sure!


Nick’s first impression of Becca:

Becca Merritt was the all-American girl personified, with her fierce blue eyes and wavy hair the rich color of honey. Bet she tastes as sweet, too. And, damn, that body. It was all he’d been able to do not to gawk at the curves her fitted T-shirt hugged, or trace his eyes over the lace just visible through the thin cotton. It was like the sun had strolled through their front door, casting heat and light all over him. Only the haunted dark circles under her eyes ruined the analogy.

Becca’s Job: ER nurse

3 Words that Describe Becca: Loyal, Compassionate, Strong

3 Things she Loves about Hero Nick Rixey: His intensity (in everything), his strength, his willingness to help her and her brother

Who could play Becca if the book was made into a movie? With her wholesome prettiness, Blake Lively would make a good Becca Merritt!

~Coming Soon…~

 Prizes – Five (5) print copies of HARD AS IT GETS, provided by the publisher

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