By Cara McKenna. I read Hard Time this weekend on my Kindle. Librarian meets con in the prison literacy program. Extreme hotness ensues. You’d think that would be a rather predictable story, but it wasn’t.
Annie is an extremely believable heroine. The story is told in first-person, which I generally dislike in a romance novel, but it worked here. We are with Annie every step of the way, from how she was initially petrified to even walk into the prison and start helping the men, through her lust at first sight moment when she sees Eric, to her coming to care about these guys and their issues. She has all sorts of conflicting feelings over Eric, his reason for incarceration, his family, her family, etc. I really felt like she could have been me ~ that’s how well McKenna pulled in the reader.
I thought I would be able to figure out what happens later in the story to create a major conflict between the protags, but I was incorrect. That’s a good thing!
And now for the bad. Remember how Elmore Leonard advised not to write what readers tend to skip? The romance between Annie and Eric had to be clandestine while he was in prison, OK. So, we read their love letters, which at first was fun, but I began skimming them. Because reading about reading about feelings? Kinda very far removed from feeling anything. And then when they texted and had phone sex? Um just no. Phone sex is hard enough to get right when you’re actually doing it, but reading about phone sex? No. Not happening.
So, there was that. (The takeway for romance writers is to be very careful about sticking long letters/emails/text convos into a story.) But overall? FOUR STARS for Hard Time.