Monday, July 10, 2017

[Jen's Review]: "Hardcore"

I'm excited to introduce a new reviewer to the blog -- Jen! Find out a bit more about Jen, and where to find her online, after her review. :)

contemporary erotica, romance novel covers, Hardcore by Dakota Gray
Hardcore by Dakota Gray
Publisher: Dakota Gray (January 24, 2017)
Series: Filth, 3
Genre: Contemporary Erotica

I am an Alexander. Our last name is an institution in legal circles. You're raised to be an apex predator in the courtroom and outside of it. Being weak or losing at anything is not an option.

To paint the picture, most fathers sit their sons down to have “the talk” about what it means to be a man in the world. My father handed me a proverbial rusty knife, and said, “Cut out anything but ambition and loyalty.”

Don't confuse these statements as woe-is-me. I made myself in my father's image for many years. Didn't matter if I liked the man who looked back.

I'm just giving you the facts.

So when Kennedy Mclane caught sight of this ruthless man after we had sex, she ran. I had a rare moment of...chivalry? Humanity? I don't know. I decided to be the good guy, and ignore the fact we feel unfinished. Or the way she looks at me. Or that she gets jealous.

She didn't want me to slip into my predator skin and do my own version of the wild hunt. It stayed that way for three years until she climbed back into my bed. Whether she's ready for me this time or not is a moot point. I've been more than fair and patient.

She's probably going to hate me by the end of all this.

I don't care.

The game has begun and I never lose. I cut that part out of me.

Where to Buy*:
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Jen's Review:

Hardcore by Dakota Gray is the sequel to Perv, starring Nate’s friend Duke. I’ll admit to being a bit of a fangirl for Dakota Gray**. Her books are funny and very sexy, but what she does best is build rich, complex, multilayered characters. Hardcore starts out with a very steamy interlude in Duke’s office. This is important for two reasons: he’s had his eye on his coworker Kennedy, but he never, ever mixes business with pleasure. Duke thinks she is irresistible. The interlude goes sideways over a misunderstanding, and they go back to being in the colleague zone. Three years later, they give in to the steaming sexual tension and try again.

In my opinion, there’s no trope in romance that’s harder to successfully pull off than “second chance at love.” After all, the lovers broke up, so we must truly understand why they were compelled to try again despite the previous failure. It takes a skilled author to keep both parties sympathetic enough to want to see them reunited, while at the same time showing enough growth that we truly believe this time the couple will make it. Although I know many people love this trope, it’s not my favorite and I’m always a little wary of reading them because it’s hard to convincingly thread that needle.

However, Dakota Gray truly made me believe that Duke and Kennedy would try again even despite that disastrous one night stand.

Hardcore is from Duke’s point of view, but it never felt claustrophobic. So many romances are tightly focused on the main characters and their developing relationship; but sticking to Duke's point shows the reader that he has at least five or six complicated and fully formed relationships. He has friends he loves, a boss he wants to impress, a secretary he respects, the mother he pushes away, the cousin he despises, the client he wants to protect, and the deceased father he can’t forgive. It’s this huge web of emotional entanglements that make Duke feel so real, and it’s because he’s so complexed and fully formed that we don’t give up on him even when he acts like a total ass.

The book carefully and slowly builds the relationship with Kennedy, and it’s gratifying that he sees her as a complex and interesting character. She’s hard-working and committed to social justice, and he admires and respects her professionally. Duke is a man that loves his work, and it makes sense that he would be drawn to someone who loves hers. Everything about the way their relationship develops feels real. They aren't eager to make the same mistakes they did last time, but they also are afraid to trust each other. The miscommunication and wariness feel REAL, and I could tell that it was going to lead to a crisis at the same time I fervently hoped they would figure it out. I felt so involved with these two that it read more like something that was happening to my best friend than to invented characters from Dakota Gray's imagination!

Duke’s so afraid of how Kennedy makes him feel that he blows up the whole relationship--and as dark moments in romance go, it’s devastating. But the reason it works is because it doesn’t at all feel manufactured: of course Duke would overreact and freak out in this way! Of course Kennedy would dig in her heels and go down swinging! Everyone tries to help Duke, and because his relationships are so vivid, it's both cringe-worthy and realistic. I honestly cannot remember the last time a parent in a romance novel played such a strong role in helping a character figure out their mistakes. And let me just say, the groveling is excellent. Not since Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Heaven, Texas have I enjoyed the hero’s downfall, desperate realization that he’s fucked up, and determination to fix his mistake.

I honestly loved this book. Maybe I won’t be so hard on the second-chance-at-love trope for a while!

**Dakota Gray is an alterego for Melissa Blue (#DirtySexyGeeksForever)


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Jen bought this book.

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Meet Jen!

I've been reading romance ever since I was in middle school and found a bag of remaindered romance novels in my Grandma's basement. 30 years later, and I'm still happy to read about people falling in love.  


Welcome to the blog, Jen, and thanks for the review! :D 

I really need to read Melissa/Dakota's books, I have a fair amount of them (including this one!) on my Kindle. Oh, TBR problems, how I love/hate you! 

Have you read Melissa Blue / Dakota Gray?


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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