Rating: 3.5 stars
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When Noah Appleton’s van breaks down while on a very important delivery, the last thing he expects when he calls Hard & Raw Repairs is the gorgeous man who is able to read Noah like an open book. The man exudes so much masculinity, Noah is afraid of what may happen if he lets himself fall for it.
Jake Harding knew Noah was special when he first laid eyes on him. A natural submissive, even the kid didn’t know it himself, Jake wants to be the one to show Noah that side of himself. Well, he wants to be one of the ones. Jake and his business partner, Michael Rawlins, have been friends as long as they can remember. Sharing every aspect of their lives, it was only natural for Jake and Michael to share their intimacies as well. But the problem is that they are both tops in search of a third who will meet both of their needs, and that’s a near impossible request.
Giving in to his attraction to both men, Noah agrees to explore the submissive side of himself. As feelings between all three men grow and insecurities arise, Noah can’t help be hold out hope of a future with his cowboy and badass biker.
Hard & Raw is the fifth book in Susan Laine’s Cowboys of Snow Lake series. I have not read the previous four books, but as far as I can tell these books can be read as standalone novels. This one can, anyway.
So, let’s get to it, shall we? I’ll be honest. The first thing that attracted me to this book was the title. A very clever eye-catcher for the dirty-minded. I was hoping for dirty and super sexy. As is, this story definitely has its kink, but it was more sweet than dirty. That doesn’t make it bad, per se. I was just expecting something different from this title.
For all this story isn’t very dirty, the characters make up for it by sheer sexiness. Not Noah, obviously. He’s the more timid, innocent of the three. He’s very…sweet. But Jake and Michael, if the descriptions and my imagination are anything to go by, these men are walking sex. First, we all know I’m a sucker for a cowboy. And Jake is just that – big, strong, rugged. Yum. And Michael – well, I’m also a sucker for a tattooed bad boy. What I love most about Michael is his devil-may-care attitude. He says what he thinks and has no regrets for the most part. My only wish is that the author would have detailed each of his tattoos and their meanings. But yeah, the men are truly the highlight of this book.
I appreciate that this story takes an innocent interested in the BDSM lifestyle and walks him through each step, training him patiently and cautiously. But there is a fine line between getting all the details in training on paper and telling the D/s story. This story reads a lot like a how to manual – detailing several times the roles of Dominant/Master and submissive/slave, describing in detail what each action means and why it’s performed. I appreciate the care that this author takes to show the safety, love, and protection of a D/s relationship, but I would have really liked more story. Because of the how-to feel of the book, I didn’t feel much of a connection between the characters and I definitely didn’t feel an attachment to the story.
The writing is good. And truly I didn’t have much of a problem until the end where the conversation suddenly becomes very formal and awkward. It felt forced and almost pretend, like play-acting. I didn’t like it at all. One of my major issues with this publisher is the constant editing issues – misspelled words, missing words, confusing sentences. That’s an issue in this book. I don’t really fault the author with these issues, but the fact is they remain annoying.
So, in the end, Hard & Raw is a decent book with a catchy title. Not one that I am dying to read again, but it’s good. Seriously, the sexiness of the men save this story as well as the tribute to the D/s lifestyle. But the almost clinical how-to feel of this book and the writing, leave something to be desired. Although, I’m not opposed to reading another book in this series. Who knows? Maybe a story about a sexy man with a British accent, hmm?