In Review: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Posted April 13, 2017 by Kim in 4 Stars, In Review / 1 Comment

In Review: Hard Time by Cara McKennaHard Time by Cara McKenna
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Penguin/InterMix
Format: eBook, 310 pages
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
My rating:

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.

Hard Time has been on my TBR for ages. One of my friends read it and raved about it a couple years, so I promptly bought it… and then never got around to reading it. Something that seems pretty common in my world, honestly. It wasn’t until I was chatting with a group of author friends at Apollycon and it came up again that I decided it was high time I finally read it. Part of me hates that it took this long to get around to it, but the other part is just grateful I finally made time to read it. Because holy crap. What a book.

Despite there being several books with a similar premise on my eReader and shelves right now, this is the first time I’ve read a book with an inmate for a hero. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get into it, even though it really is one of the ultimate forbidden romances, I suppose. That might be why I waited so long to read i, if I’m being totally honest. Any preconceived notions I had about what an “inmate romance” might be like were totally off-base. Starting, of course, with the hero himself. Because my gods, Eric. Eric was amazing. He’s easily one of my new favorite book boyfriends of 2017. His crime didn’t make him a bad man, neither did the time he spent behind bars. Sure, he was a bit hard… but he was also sweet, sensitive and really easy to fall for. Annie was a fantastic heroine, too. First and foremost, I applauded her work as librarian with the inmates. Not everyone would be brave enough to be willing to put themselves through what she did to try to help others. I appreciated how she worked to make a difference in these men’s lives. She was timid and reserved, but slowly came out of her shell thanks to Eric.

I loved so much how these two characters came together. The initial chemistry was one thing, but the real fun began when they started exchanging letters. (Which, naturally, was forbidden.) The letters were HOT, but it wasn’t all about sex. Yes, there was SERIOUS sexual tension between these two, but there was more than that building as well. There was a sexual reawakening of sorts, but it was more than that. These two characters truly brought out the best in each other, thoughts and feelings that had been locked away for years… for both of them. Eric might’ve been the one behind bars, but Annie was locked up in her own way, too. I’m not accustomed to seeing this much growth in characters outside the YA and NA books I read. It was such a pleasant surprise here.

It was one thing to open up and write letters to an inmate, but things became real and incredibly complicated once Annie learned Eric was being released. Could what started under unconventional circumstances translate into the real world? Did she want it to? Would he? So many unanswered questions. I was so wrapped up in the gorgeous writing and these characters I’d fallen hard as hell for that I felt like I was the one making the tough decision here. Of course, I’m not going to tell you anything more about the plot. It’s one you just need to experience for yourself.

Hard Time was a great book. It was borderline addictive and I couldn’t get enough. Now that I’ve discovered my love for Cara McKenna’s writing, I’m going to have no choice but to devour her backlist.


His gaze dropped from my eyes to my mouth, the weight of it as real as a kiss.

Fuck, I could smell him. Summer and sweat. I wanted to lick his neck and taste the salt on his skin.

“Would’ve been worth anything they took from me, just to hear you say my name.”

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. 

About Cara McKenna

Since she began writing in 2008, Cara McKenna has published nearly forty romances and erotic novels with a variety of publishers, sometimes under the pen names Meg Maguire and C.M. McKenna. Her stories have been acclaimed for their smart, modern voice and defiance of convention. She was a 2015 RITA Award finalist, a 2014 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award winner, a 2012 and 2011 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee, and a 2010 Golden Heart Award finalist. She lives with her husband and baby son in the Pacific Northwest, though she’ll always be a Boston girl at heart.

Have you read any of Cara’s other books?
Which one should I read next?

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