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Hard Time, by Cara McKenna

Hard Time


In this all-new novel from the author of Unbound, 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.


“I was attracted to bad men.”

God This book was amazing! Even though I only read her work once a year, every time I pick one of Cara McKenna’s books I love them. The story, the characters, the mood, everything. She is truly a very talented writer and storyteller.

“His gaze was strong male hands cradling a baby bird – seemingly innocuous, but shot through with the potential for unbearable cruelty.”

The last book I read by her was After Hours and just like in Hard Time I fell in love with her very flawed but also very real characters.

“He watched me. But not the way the others did. If he was trying to picture me naked, his poker face was strong, though his attention anything but subtle. His entire head moved as I passed through his domain, but his eyes were languorous. Lazy and half-lidded, yet intense. A hundred looks in one. I didn’t like it. Couldn’t read it. At least with the horny jerk-offs, I knew where I stood. “

I loved falling in love with Eric along with Anne. I loved the letters they wrote each other. I want an epistolary romance just as much now!

“He spoke volumes with a few murmured words.”

“Selfishly, I wanted the letter for myself. And recklessly, I even hoped maybe he’d want to tell me more.”

I love how Cara McKenna weaves her erotic tales with such emotions and skill. I love that all her characters are flawed but you can’t help but love them for everything that they are.

“For the first time in months, my own hand slid low. Me and my hand in my lonely bed, in my lonely room, on this lonely night…wondering if a man was thinking of me and doing the same twenty miles away.”

Her stories are gritty and raw but also very emotional and they just work for me. They speak to me and the stories and characters stay with me long after I’ve turned the last page and read the last word.

“And his voice was in my head every night, saying whatever I scripted for him. Filthy things, romantic things. He called me tenderly by my name, nuzzling my ear. Called me bitch and forced my thighs apart with his. Called me darling, like in the letter, the word dark and charged and electric as the clouds before a summer storm.”

This book in particular felt almost delicate even though it tells the story of a convict and a woman falling in love.

“The idiotic risks people take in the midst of affairs made sense to me, suddenly. Nothing felt as good as this wanting. Logic was impotent. Flaccid. A pitiful, powerless thing.”

It’s hard to write a review for such a book. I don’t want to give too much away even though I highlighted a good third of it while reading. It’s a book that makes me gush over and ramble about it and want to make my friends read it because I liked it so much. It’s also hard to write a review for it because I want to do it justice. It’s probably not for everybody but I, for sure, consider it a must read (as well as her other books)!

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

And just to give you a little taste of some of the stuff Eric and Anne write to each other, that’s for you my lovelies:

Eric – “PS: Wear your hottest underwear too. I don’t care if it’s a thong or granny panties. Whatever makes you hot is what I want to imagine you in. Say the word and I’d slide them off real sweet and slow or rip them right down the middle. Whatever you wanted.” 

Anne – “I want to make you feel a hundred things at once – powerless and aggressive, needy and pushy, grateful and greedy. Everything a man can feel with a woman.”

I’ll stop here with the rambling because I could go on for a long while. I’ll just tell you to give this book, and its characters a chance to charm you as they did me.

“You will not speak to or touch any inmate in an inappropriate way. You will not encourage an inmate to speak to or touch you in an inappropriate way. Double check.”


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