Hard Rhythm by Cecilia Tan

5 warm-up-the-covers stars!

From the first time I saw this books’ cover, I couldn’t wait to read it. I confess, I may have been a pest about getting my hands on an ARC of this one. But guess what? It was worth it!

For starters, not only is Chino every bit as hot in the book as he appears to be on the cover, he’s also a genuinely likeable guy. He’s got his issues, for sure, but compared to Mal (for example) he appears to actually have it together pretty well. Maddie, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. She’s just not ready – she thinks – for a relationship. Chino is exactly what she needs; he melts her hard shell and helps her get past her head and in touch with her heart.

There’s a great scene (not that kind of scene!) where they are pretending to shop for real estate together as a married couple:

The final house was another split-level, built into the hill. The top floor had a patio, most of the bedrooms were on the middle floors, and the garage sat at the bottom.
As we entered the foyer we ran into the real estate agent, another woman, this one middle-aged. Her suit was dove gray, her scarf a riot of pinks and yellows like an Easter basket. “Welcome,” she said, and held out her hand to shake ours. “Mr. and Mrs.…?”
“Jones,” Chino said with a broad smile before leading me away to explore the property.
One of the bedrooms was built into the hill and only had one tiny window. As we took a turn through the room I said, “Here’s where we’d build the private dungeon, don’t you think, Mr. Jones?”
He slid up behind me, his hands fitting around my hips. “Would we? What would we furnish it with?”
“With all this wall space you could have a St. Andrew’s Cross over there, hang all the floggers and whips here, a sling there—”
“A sling?”
“Definitely,” I said with a knowing nod.
He slid his hand up my body until two fingers were holding my chin. “I like your…taste in interior decoration,” he said as he turned my head to the side. His grip tightened suddenly and I realized he had my other arm by the wrist, effectively trapping me in his embrace while he took lush liberties with his tongue in my mouth. He tasted dark and sweet and fresh all at once, and as I sucked in a breath I could feel how tightly he held me, the heat of his skin soaking through his shirt and warming my back. I could imagine us in the room outfitted as a dungeon, getting ready to play in it for the first time, and all the unfulfilled desire from last night flooded me once again.
We separated quickly when the realtor brought another couple into the room. I was flushed, my breath heaving, my lips tingling, but the realtor just smiled and the male half of the couple gave Chino a wink.
“Picking out drapes is my kink,” Chino said to the guy, as he slipped his sunglasses on.

Oh. My. God.  If you, like me, adore cocky heroes with soft centers, then Chino’s the one for you. And as always, Cecilia Tan handles the sizzling hot sex scenes with an expert touch, keeping the action going while still addressing the realities that take place alongside intimacy, particularly kinky intimacy.

Some of the other things I adored about this book:

  • There wasn’t a lot of angst between the main characters – they got their own relationship figured out pretty well by, oh, midway through
    • The level of caring and communication between them was great!
  • There was a lot of external plot dealing with issues that are super-relevant right now (crooked politicians, scheming media, domestic abuse)
  • All the characters have true friendships with each other and have each others’ backs
  • Great portrayal of Los Angeles – my turf (kind of)!

Go read it. You won’t regret it! Especially recommended for snowy evenings.

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