Book Review: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Hard Time by Cara McKennaTitle: Hard Time
Author: Cara McKenna
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sensuality Rating: Steamy
Source: review copy provided via NetGalley
Published: April 15, 2014 by InterMix

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.

Why I Read this Book: A prison librarian getting involved with an inmate? Yes, I’ll take some of that!

What I Liked: Hard Time had a very interesting premise. The author took a different approach when it came to Eric and his conviction. Usually the hero is wrongly convicted or framed but in Eric’s case, he did the crime with full intent and he acknowledges it. Annie has to come to terms with this if she’s going to continue on with the relationship they started.

At first, I wasn’t feeling the relationship. Thinking of their situation realistically, if I were in Annie’s shoes I wouldn’t communicate with an inmate no matter how good looking he was and how hot the vibes he was giving off were. Not knowing the reason for his incarceration, you’re stepping into what could potentially be a dangerous situation. But the way Eric went about it, how he approached Annie with the letters and gave Annie the choice made me more comfortable with her involvement. Still not something I would’ve done but I enjoyed experiencing it through Annie.

The dynamic of Annie and Eric’s relationship kept my interest. The necessity of keeping their taboo relationship a secret, Eric’s early release and how Annie would handle it – all of it, all of these quandaries appealed to me. Because exchanging steamy letters with someone who’s locked away for the foreseeable future only to find out they’ll be getting out very soon can make a huge impact and change everything.

I loved the role the letters Annie and Eric exchanged played in their relationship. It showed a gentle side to Eric and boy were those letters steamy! I was looking forward to reading them.

What I Didn’t Like: Why Eric committed the crime that landed him in prison for five years was never thoroughly explained. Annie was given a vague answer and the reader is left connecting unnumbered dots that paint a fuzzy picture. I’m the type of reader that wants all the facts, especially for something as important as a motive. Sure, Annie finds out the gist of it but I need clear cut details. Especially when their relationship hangs in the balance, dependent on this piece of information. Annie is trying to see Eric’s true character but she’s missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

The ending was anti-climatic. There’s some build up of a particular event that’s going to take place but the way it went down was underwhelming. And part of what I was looking forward to seeing play out didn’t happen. I don’t feel like I got complete closure.

Memorable Moment: After Annie finishes reading one of Eric’s letters:

I let the hand holding the letter drop to the side, sighing for every corner of the room to hear. “Fuck me, you’re good.”

Overall Impression: Hard Time was a good read though I wanted more definitive answers and closure.

Brianna’s Rating:
3 Frogs

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About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.

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