In this all-new novel from the author of Unbound, a woman with a rocky past finds romance in the last place she’d ever expect…
Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.
Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.
When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.
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Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
J&G: 5 superb and beautiful stars
Gitte: Now, we love this Author don’t we Jenny, so to say we were excited to read Hard Time is an understatement. We knew we were in for sublime writing and a stellar story with brilliant characters and hot nookie. Yeah well, wow, we were not disappointed were we? Hard Time is magnificent. Why? Because it’s basically just a romance; a romance set within an unconventional setting, that builds from page one with such depth and unique characterization which lets us, the readers, learn about our hero and heroine in detail as they embark upon a romance beginning in the most unlikely place you can imagine.
‘I want to escape and go someplace dark and soft and quiet. I want to escape inside you. I want to feel your hands on me, and your eyes, and feel like there’s nobody else for a hundred miles.’ – Eric
The way in which Annie and Eric’s journey begins may just be some of the hottest scenes I’ve ever read and there were no two bodies touching nor was there more than one person in the room at a time. Cryptic much? Well wait till you read it yourself. I may have nearly combusted at one stage from the sheer eroticism and sensuality leaping off the pages as a beautiful and sweet romance begins.
‘Sometimes I watch your hands. I watch your hands and imagine them on me.’ – Eric
Jenny: That’s for sure Gitte. As soon as we read heard Cara McKenna had a new book coming out and spied the synopsis, we HAD to read this book. Cara McKenna’s writing is something else. Her beautifully descriptive prose, her strong characters and way she developed this story had me completely captivated and like you G, I most definitely wasn’t disappointed. It was everything I’d hoped for and more.
“I want to see every side of you there is to see. Even the greedy ones, the dirty ones. I want us to be everything for each other that two people can be….Everything short of hurtful.” – Annie
This was a beautiful, sensual, erotic and yet at times, sweet romance that began and prospered under the bleakest and most unforgiving of surroundings and Gitte, you are absolutely right! There were indeed some of the most erotic scenes I’ve read contained in this story, despite there not being any physical connection at times. Wow! Cold shower alright!
‘That stare. That unreadable expression, an impossible mix of apathy, fascination, coldness and searing seduction.’ – Annie
It was delivered in a highly passionate and erotic way on an emotional level and so consummately and beautifully executed by this author. Hard Time was a perfect blend of sweet and sensual where a word, a slight touch or a glance was deliciously delivered and every nuance and moment was felt and it was certainly steamy! Perfection!
Gitte: Annie and Eric are quite similar in some respects yet so very different where it matters which is why that attraction and connection is so strong. Annie was quite fierce yet vulnerable; practical and unwavering. At no stage did she annoy me. Rather, I commended her bravery, her resoluteness, her apt reluctance and her sensibility. It stood in good stead when it came to Eric and the possibility of a future romance. The passion she embodied was intense and combined with that of an affection starved Eric, well…..it was indescribable.
‘He just wanted to be close to me – to a woman. Close enough to smell me, or scare me, or seduce me. Couldn’t tell you which. Didn’t care to know.’ – Annie
Now, Eric, what can I say except he went straight to the top of my favourite male heroes. He was without doubt one of the most intense and fascinating characters; he was a lush gentle giant. So fiercely alpha yet oh so romantic. So protective, so sexual and oh so very passionate. He had me in tears, he had me melting into a puddle on the floor and he had me so hot and bothered I needed a cold shower….several times!
‘A man, touching a woman for the first time since his freedom had been taken away. A woman, touching a man for the first time since she’d been robbed of her desire.’
Cara Mckenna writes with such beauty it’s flawless and draws you in till you feel, taste and hear every emotion and every word. It’s quite simply stunning. We are truly in awe aren’t we Jenny?
Jenny: We truly are Gitte. Annie and Eric appeared to be opposites, but they did have common threads, which crated a magnetic pull towards one another. Whilst there was certainly instant desire, this was no insta love as the author built up a mouth wateringly slow relationship where, despite misgivings on both parts, their attraction couldn’t be denied or dismissed.
‘He was a bad man, no doubt. One who deserved reform, but not my desire.’ – Anne
Annie was such a strong and warm character who had no pretences. This woman, who had been scarred physically and emotionally by a past relationship years prior with a ‘wholesome, good man’ takes on a job in the Prison Library where meets Inmate 802267 who has an immediate effect on her, and who ignites a want in her that had lain dormant for so long. The conflict and doubt she experiences falls away as her feelings for this man intensify. Annie was believable. Despite her intense feelings she was methodical in her thinking I understood her and rallied behind her every step of the way.
‘The roughest man I’d ever gotten close to, yet here he was, so utterly at my mercy.’ – Annie
Eric, what is there to say about this fiercely loyal, protective, honest and forthright man? Incarcerated for protecting those he loved, loyal to a fault, and whilst I didn’t condone the actions that resulted in his incarceration, I understood why he did what he did and I felt sorrow for him and his circumstances.
“They may stick us in cages, but no need to act like animals.” – Eric
This man, who had spent 5 years in bleak and cold surroundings found his salvation and light in Annie. He loved with passion and heart. This man could be as brutally passionate as he could be sweetly romantic and he completely won me over.
‘I want to be in a room with you, so quiet I can hear your breathing and your heart. A place so clean I could smell your skin.’ – Eric
Loved it. What more can I say!
Gitte & Jenny: This author uses words to perfection. There is nothing superfluous in her prose and every word she writes evokes emotion and creates a vivid picture that unfolds in your mind. Whether it is describing the complete despair felt between Annie and Eric, Annie’s conflicted emotions, their struggles as they learn about one another, Eric’s sense of loyalty, or his utter feelings of despondency. It’s all felt in the author’s words and its what made Hard Time such an engrossing and intoxicating read for us both.
“I’m not from a nice place, little nothing-town called Kernsville……and there’s a plague out there, the way plagues spread through dirty places hundreds of years ago. Only this one gets brewed up out of cough syrup and it’s a pipe or a needle that bites you, not a rat. You follow?” – Eric
Our only gripe was the lack of epilogue, leaving us feeling as if the story ended a little too abruptly and wishing it could have continued a for a few pages more. However, this in no way impacted what was a tantalising and superbly told story of love against the odds, of opposites finding a common thread, of finding that person and opening your heart, of trusting and honesty and it was one that showed that love can prosper even in the harshest and most unforgiving of circumstances. We LOVED this book and absolutely recommend it to our fellow readers!
“You made me see beautiful things again.” – Eric
**ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**