I read these stories not in order. Hard Case, which is book 2 in Hope Conrad’s ‘Hard as Nails’ series was my first book by this author and it was almost my last. I liked zero of that story. Oh what a difference a book makes. This, the first book in the series, made my day. I read this in one sitting. It moved so fast. I found myself just flipping the pages.
Thomas and Katie knew each from his days in prison. That sounds bad, well it is. Thomas was an inmate doing time for aggravated burglary. Katie worked in the cafeteria of said prison. They knew each other over the glass and across the room. There was no interaction or even conversation between them while Thomas was doing time. But there was definitely an awareness of each other. And while I thought, how convenient that a man locked behind bars without conjugal visits finds a healthy young woman attractive, somehow Conrad actually made that okay in my mind.
Fast forward a couple of years. After serving his time, Thomas is out, and while he’s on parole he doesn’t have to live in a half-way home; he’s living in a not so great apartment and getting regular visits from his parole officer. As long as he can stay clean and abide by the rules of his release, then he’s good.
After quitting her 6 months’ job at the prison, Katie found herself pregnant by her abusive boyfriend. In the time that she’s been out of Thomas’s sight, Katie’s had her daughter Riley and lives in a trailer next to her sister, Dee. Dee’s a really good sister and does a lot for Katie by helping her raise her daughter.
One day while she’s working in the bookstore, Thomas walks in looking for a book of poetry. She’s shocked to see him and is convinced that he doesn’t remember her much less her name. She’s quite surprised when he not only remembers but calls her by name. Their connection is still there, but there are challenges in their way. Katie’s very protective of her herself and her daughter. Rightfully so. Thomas isn’t sure of his future, much less what he can offer Katie.
The chemistry between these two was pretty fantastic. There’s a lot of angst which I totally understand given their circumstance. Second chances in life are hard and both of them are on their second, maybe even third.
Katie’s choice in men sucks. She knows this and she had to be extra diligent in making a choice with Thomas because well…the last man she dated thought she was his personal punching bag. Thomas knows he’s not good enough for Katie and he knows of her daughter and the ex-boyfriend. So he not only has his own past to conquer with Katie, he also needs to show her that he’s better than her ex-boyfriend. Much better.
Like I said, this is fast paced, but the story is told quite well. The sex happens quickly between them but somehow it works; it’s in no way a beautiful moment and there’s lot of self-recriminations after and even that works.
If Thomas and Katie’s relationship was insular to only them I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did. There are enough secondary characters to make everything work and move. Katie’s sister Dee was wonderful, hopefully she gets her own HEA. Then there are Thomas’s friends from his earlier days – the men who started ‘Nailed’ garage. One of them, Slade, he’s the hero of book 2.
Happy reading folks!
Click to purchase: Amazon
Hard Time: An Ex-Con Bad Boy Romance
by Hope Conrad
Release Date: May 24, 2016