Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Hard Time
By:  Cara McKenna
Published:  April 15, 2014
Publisher:  InterMix
Source:  Publisher
Mature Content:  18 & Up
Add to Goodreads
Purchase At: Amazon | B & N| Kobo

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.

My Thoughts:

Hard Time, is the first book that I've read by author Cara McKenna.  I'm always a little nervous, when I begin a story from a new to me author.  However, I've been really excited to read a book by Ms. McKenna, because one of my favorite bloggers, Andrea@ The Bookish Babe is a huge fan of hers, and can't sing her enough praise.  As I began, Hard Time, the first thought that struck me was "I wonder how she's going to pull of this story plot off?"  I mean here we have a story about a young librarian who works part time in a prison and falls in love with a hardened criminal.  Just based off of the plot, I had to wonder if Annie, the main character was going to come off as naive and lacking in common sense.  However, I decided to keep an open mind, as Andrea had suggestion in her review, and just enjoy the ride.

I loved this story for so many reasons.  For one, Eric Collier was a very complex character.  He wasn't what you would expect of a hardened criminal.  That is in no way to say that he was a softie or a pushover, because he wasn't.  Eric had a dangerous quality about him.  He has  
6' 3" and pure muscle.  He had a quiet intensity to him, and all we learn at the beginning of the story is that he landed a 10-year sentence in Cousins Corrections Facility located in Darren, Michigan.  Annie use to live in South Carolina, but after she escaped a dangerous relationship in which she was physically abused, she decided she needed a new beginning.  Annie is an educated woman who comes from an upper middle class background.  She decided she wants to make a positive difference in the world, and spends her week working in the prison, a retirement home, and hospital helping those in need with literacy, and writing skills.  She meets Eric when she is teaching a book discussion course, and resource lab at the prison.  There is a definite attraction, and sizzling chemistry between these two from the very beginning.  As Annie and Eric get to know one another, she helps him with his dysgraphia, and gets to know him as a person, not just a prison inmate.

Eric proved the quality of his character to Annie, and it was easy to see why she couldn't help but fall in love with him.  He was a man with a code of honor, loyal to his loved ones, and put those he cared about above his own well-being.  He was a romantic at heart, and Annie the most beautiful love letters.  He wanted to be worthy of Annie, and wanted to give her his all.  Annie was a great character as well.  She was intelligent, had a beautiful heart, and learned how to find strength from within, and trust her instincts.  I loved the do-gooder quality that she possessed, and thought that Annie and Eric shared a special connection, and complimented each other.

My Rating:

Ms. McKenna's writing was an aphrodisiac.  Her characters jumped off the page.  The chemistry, emotions, and desires expressed were seamlessly portrayed.  Every interaction between Annie and Eric made my heart beat a little faster.  The whole story was such a great experience.  Every kiss experienced was a sensual experience, and every emotion was palpable.  I give Hard Time, by Cara McKenna, 5 Passionate, Poetic, Panty-Melting, Pulse Pounding Stars!

My Favorite Quote:

"I turned back over, enclosed in strong arms and male heat.  Wrapped in a body that offered me everything a man could, be it pleasure or desire or the darkest depths of loyalty and honor.  Wrapped in uncertainty and inevitability.  Wrapped in everything good and bad, beautiful and ugly, black and white and gray.  And green.  Everything that made a man worth loving.  Everything that made a woman run.  Into his arms, or out of his reach."  (eARC, Loc. 2023)


About Cara McKenna:

Cara McKenna writes smart erotica—sexy stories with depth. A little dark, a little funny, always emotional. She also writes red-hot romance under the name Meg Maguire. Her wonderful publishers are Ellora's Cave, Harlequin Blaze, Loose-Id, Penguin / Intermix, Samhain, and Signet Eclipse. She loves writing sexy, character-driven stories about strong-willed men and women who keep each other on their toes, and bring one another to their knees. Cara (writing as Meg) was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, a 2011 and 2013 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award nominee, and a 2012 Golden Leaf finalist. Cara is represented by Laura Bradford, of the Bradford Literary Agency. Before becoming a purveyor of red-hot romance and smart erotica, Cara was a record store bitch, a lousy barista, a decent designer, and an overly enthusiastic penguin handler. Cara now writes full-time and lives north of Boston with her bearded husband. When she's not trapped in her own head she can usually be found in the kitchen, the coffee shop, or jogging around the nearest duck-filled pond. She is a very proud member of the Romance Writers of America® and her local New England Chapter.


  1. Nice. It's always fun when a character is more than you expect.

  2. "Ms. McKenna's writing was an aphrodisiac." <---exactly! I love the sensuality McKenna always brings to her books.
    And WHEW! I'm always nervous when a friend reads a book I highly recommend. Great review, Lindy!

    1. Thanks Andrea! I loved this story so much ;) You give awesome recommendations!

  3. Yeah, I saw this book on Andrea's blog too and it definitely caught my attention. So I'm glad to see you like it too. I haven't read anything by this author yet, so I might make this my first.

  4. I love complex characters! This one definitely seems interesting :D

    Great review!

    1. Thanks Magen! Complex characters are my favorite, and Ms. McKenna knows how to keep things very interesting :)


We love to hear your thoughts, and appreciate you stopping by :)