Monday, May 5, 2014

REVIEW: "Hard Time" by Cara McKenna

Hard Time
Hard Time by Cara McKenna
For Ages 18+
Contemporary Romance

Intermix -- April 15, 2014
Ebook, 310 pages
Purchased from Amazon

Alpha Hero, Tortured Hero, Tormented Heroine

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.

"The rules were forwarded to me in an email: No makeup, no perfume, no jewelry."

While I've never read a book by Cara McKenna, I have heard great things about her sexy, but romantic stories and swoon-worthy heroes.  So, after hearing that her latest release focused on a librarian and a prisoner, I knew the book that was going to introduce myself to her work.  Overall, I was impressed with this story and am looking forward to reading more of her work soon.

The heroine of Hard Time is Anne Goodhouse, a librarian whose newest position requires her to spend one day at Cousins Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison working with inmates.  Anne is adjusting to both her new position and a new life away from her abusive ex.  Her past has made her very skittish around strangers, especially men, which makes the prison outreach even more uncomfortable for her.

Despite the initial mousy impression I got of Anne, I really liked her character.  She has gone through a lot, but is determined to move on with her life.  Her bravery is really showcased in how she approaches the prison outreach program and her kindness is shown in her determination to help the inmates in anyway she can.

Eric Collier is the hero of the story and he is an inmate halfway through a ten year sentence at Cousins Correctional Facility.  He meets Anne when she starts working at the prison and is attracted to her from the beginning.  But, while he wants to flirt with her, he understands the unorthodox position she is in and does his best to show his attraction without scaring her off.

I was surprised at how much I liked Eric despite his unsavory past.  Cara McKenna does not try to have readers view him with rose-tinted lenses.  He is an inmate who was imprisoned for a reason and has an obviously dangerous streak.  But, it is shown that his character is much more well-developed than just a man with a temper. There are reasons behind his actions and they are slowly revealed to the reader.  The only issue I had with Eric was how untrusting he is to Anne about his past and it got a little annoying at a certain point.

The romance between Anne and Eric is very unorthodox, but still sexy.  They begin their relationship through illicit correspondence which were some of my favorite parts.  I loved how McKenna was able to showcase each of their personalities through their letters.  Things change (as expected) when Eric is given parole and they are forced to deal with their attraction in the real world.  I thought this was handled pretty well and found myself impatient for them to get past the awkward stage which is always a good sign when I read a romance.  While there are definitely some steamy scenes, I enjoyed the times when Anne and Eric just talk about their lives and how it emphasized their connection.

The main reason for the rating not being as high as I expected was the handling of the ending.  Things were moving along well until some issues involving Eric's family popped up and then I started losing interest.  Eric was so tight-lipped about his family and how their situation resulted in him being incarcerated that it seemed a little out of left field to me.  I guess I just wanted more of Anne and Eric hanging out and falling more in love with each other.

All in all, I really liked this unique romance between two people who have had a lot to get over and are still determined to live their life to the fullest.  Both Anne and Eric are easy to relate to and it is even easier to root for them to get their happily ever after.  I am definitely going to look for more books by Cara McKenna in the future and I do recommend this book as a taste of her unique style.


Fever -- Definitely graphic, but still emotional descriptions.

The only action I might care to get went down between me and my right hand, and even we’d grown estranged.


  1. I'm looking forward to giving this one a go. I've really enjoyed others of hers in the past--After Hours and Willing Victim. Glad you enjoyed your first go with her even though not perfect. I found her endings aren't my all time favorites (sometimes I Just need a wee bit more) but the journey's there are pretty great.

    1. I've heard fabulous things about After Hours and I think I'm going to try that one next. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Hmmmm, I can't decide if I would like this one. I love when a librarian is the main character, but I'm not sure how I would feel about the hero of the story being an inmate in prison. That might be too much for me.

    1. I wasn't sure about the hero either, but I ended up really liking how the author handled his character. You might find the description of Anne's duties at the prison to be interesting. Thanks for commenting!


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