HARD LOVE by Meredith Wild
(September 15, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; The Hacker Series #5)
Days after their wedding, Blake and Erica Landon embark on their honeymoon-a journey that deepens their bond and promises to fade the scars of their past. Just when their troubles seem safely behind them, scandal surrounding would-be Governor Daniel Fitzgerald’s election threatens their newfound peace. Back home, Blake finds himself at the center of the controversy, haunted by the transgressions of his hacker past that he has no wish to relive.
With Blake’s freedom at stake and their future in peril, Erica will stop at nothing to clear his name. But when Blake defies the authorities and refuses to seek the truth, their world gradually begins to crumble. Will he let his past win? Or can Erica convince him that their life together is worth fighting for-now more than ever…
We walked the now familiar path back to our hotel, through the dark uneven streets out of Dublin’s city center. A hint of rain and the lingering scent of the fresh flowers that had been sold on the streets hours earlier filled the air.
I held Blake’s hand, admiring the details of the building architecture framing the old streets, greeting the bright-eyed faces that met us on the sidewalk. It was almost midnight, but our schedule was a mess and I was in no rush to be anywhere as long as we were together. Seeing my old professor again had been a flashback to a simpler time in my life. So much had happened since that first meeting in the Angelcom boardroom that he’d arranged with Max’s initial support. I could have never known then that I’d fall head over heels for the cocky investor sitting across from me…that I’d be his wife. But here we were, bound together as closely as two people could be.
Blake caught me closer to his side and brushed a soft kiss over my cheek. “I like Brendan. I can see why he’s become a friend.”
I smiled. “It seems odd to call him that, but it’s true. He encouraged me to build the business when I had so many doubts. He’s the reason I took the path I did.”
“A path that led you straight to me.” He squeezed my hand. “Lucky me.”
I was lucky too. I couldn’t deny it. But I could have never imagined traveling the road I had.
“You’re quiet. What are you thinking about?” he asked.
I blew out a breath and shook my head. “The business, I guess. I can’t help but feel like I…failed somehow.”
He glanced down at me. “You didn’t fail. You learned.”
I scuffed the sole of my boots against the stones as we walked, avoiding his stare.
“I’ve been around the block a few times, you know. You should trust me.”
I smirked. “That’s why I married you, of course. For your business acumen and wealth of knowledge.”
He lifted an eyebrow.
“And your mountains of money,” I added quickly.
He frowned. “You’re trying to tell me you didn’t marry me for my dashing good looks? I might be insulted.”
I pursed my lips, trying to look serious. “If I had to pick one thing that tipped the scales, I’d say it was your exceptional skills in bed. I think that’s where you really excel.”
“Well then”—he laughed, his eyes twinkling—“at least my purpose is clear.”
He gave my ass a firm squeeze. Laughing, I pushed him away as we approached a street performer who was crooning for the barest of audiences. A small group of French-speaking tourists stood nearby, and an older man, dirty from the streets, sat on the opposite side of the street with a sloppy grin.
We slowed to listen as the tourists dispersed. The song was sad, but rich with love—raw and emotional the way he delivered each verse. Blake turned me to him, bringing us chest to chest. Our fingers laced, his breath warm against my hair, he led us into a simple nameless dance. I swayed toward him and closed my eyes, clinging to his muscular frame the way I clung to every magical moment between us.
Straining for the lyrics through the singer’s thick accent, I caught the verses.
When misfortune falls sure no man can shun it.
I was blindfolded I’ll ne’er deny.
Now at nights when I go to my bed of slumber,
the thoughts of my true love run in my mind.
Another moment passed as the young man’s voice faded into the night. The song was a somber one, made light only by his passionate delivery of it. Like so much of life, the pain was what you made it. He’d made something sad beautiful.
I sighed, still tight against Blake’s chest. His body emanated warmth. His heartbeat was a steady reminder of his support, his love—a force that had saved me, changed me, and healed me in ways I’d never thought possible. He tipped my chin up, the glint in his eyes matching the passion in my heart. He parted his full lips, but hesitated, a wordless moment passing between us.
“I’m going to show you the whole world, Erica.”
“I can’t imagine enjoying a minute of it without you,” I whispered.
He stilled our slow dance, tracing a fingertip over my lips, his countenance now serious in a way that threatened my next breath.
“And I’m going to make you fall in love with me all over again. Every morning and every night. In every city and at the edge of every ocean. I’ll remind you why you’re mine and why I’ve always been yours.”
I drew in an unsteady breath, feeling his promise all the way to my soul. Swallowing hard, I found my voice. “I think you’re on the right track.”
I arched toward him until our lips met. Soft and slow at first, the kiss went deeper, stealing every thought that didn’t revolve around his taste and touch.
We broke apart slightly when a gravelly voice interrupted us.
“Go make love to her, lad, before she changes her mind already.”
Behind us, the man who’d made his home for the night in the entryway of a high-end store offered an imperfect grin, pairing his words of wisdom with a friendly tip of his small bottle of liquor.
I smiled, and Blake, by the dark look in his eyes, seemed to immediately accept the stranger’s challenge.
“I plan to,” he murmured, his tone all velvet and delicious threat. My skin tingled and he took my mouth again with a kiss that promised so much more.
Listen to a clip of the Hard Love audiobook below!!
(Click the link for more information on the Hard Love audiobook! https://soundcloud.com/audible/hard-love)
*****5 UNFORGETTABLE STARS*****
Hard Love was the absolute perfect conclusion to Meredith Wild’s captivating and utterly phenomenal Hacker Series. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending book for Blake and Erica and their breathtakingly emotional love story. This series is one of my all-time favorites, and what Meredith Wild gave me in each of these books, but especially in Hard Love, left me in true literary awe. As I sit here writing this review, I still can’t believe that Blake and Erica’s story is really over, but what I got from those two dynamic characters in this book is something I will never forget.
Meredith Wild weaves her distinctive writing magic once again in a gripping story that has you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, has you feeling and fully experiencing every thoughtfully crafted emotion and feeling, and has you realizing once again why Blake and Erica’s journey together is beautiful, authentic, and utterly unforgettable to say the least.
Hard Love is an enthralling, superbly intense, and emotionally breathtaking read that I loved every word of. It’s a beautiful love story, brimming with raw, vulnerable, consuming love that’s depth truly has no boundaries. While reading Hard Love you will breathe in the fierce love that Blake and Erica share, and that love will fill you. It will melt and simultaneously ignite you. It will mesmerize you with every word, and have you feeling every ounce of this book in the most remarkable way. There is something so special and wonderful about the love that Blake and Erica share, and Meredith Wild gives you one last outstanding chapter to relish in all of that love.
The entire time I was reading Hard Love, I was enraptured with Blake and Erica and what they were going through in this story. I felt for them. I loved them so fiercely, and I connected to them on such a real level because of how fantastically Meredith Wild creates and captures their characters. I just got them one hundred percent. I understood them, their thoughts and feelings, their desires, their flaws, and everything that made them the wonderfully distinctive characters that they are.
The events of Hard Love are engaging in every way, and Erica and Blake are faced with one last fight, and one last hurdle to overcome in order to be together. There were so many times while reading where I didn’t know where the next page would take these two, and Hard Love had so many fantastically shocking moments that just pulled me in all the more. The many intense and varied events brought out so much in their characters, and truly allowed me to understand them on completely new level. Obviously I’ve known their characters since Hardwired, and I’ve had the phenomenal chance to see them evolve over the course of the series, but in Hard Love you really get them.
You get them at their most vulnerable at times, and at their fiercest at others. You get the real, honest and raw them, and getting them on that level is spectacular. That allows you such an immense understanding of their characters, their motives, and just how far they will go to be with one another. It brings out such an exceptional level of fight and determination and will power from them both that will have you feeling them every single breathtaking step of the way. Having that well rounded and magnificently crafted understanding of them sets this chapter of their story in a league of its own.
In Hard Love you get to see Erica’s sheer strength and fight come out full force once again. There is such a power to her character, such a determination that defines her in the best way, and a stubbornness that makes you smile, but really exemplifies so much about her. The level of fight Erica has is remarkable, and is just one of the many things I love about her character because she never gives up, she never stops giving it her all, and she never stops fighting for the love that she and Blake share. The events of Hard Love definitely throw her for a bit of a loop in more ways than one, but through it all Erica keeps trying with all her might to get her and Blake to the place they both want to be. I heart that girl something fierce for her unwavering fierceness, and she is hands down one of my favorite female characters ever.
Blake Landon is one of the most intense and dynamic characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. There is such a force and presence to him that just emanates from these books. You feel that fully once again in Hard Love, but what was even more amazing in this book was that you got to see an entirely new side to Blake. You get to see a more vulnerable side, a more raw and visceral side that just pulls at your heart again and again. You really get to see how his past is affecting his present and future, and what that all adds to the story. There are so many remarkable layers to his character, and you get to delve heart first into each and every one of them, allowing you the phenomenal opportunity to see Blake Landon in a way you’ve never seen him before. He’s still the Blake you know and love, but in this chapter of the story you get more of him, and that more is the best.
Along with Blake and Erica, you get one last chance to spend time with the wonderfully distinctive supporting characters that help make this series the spectacular thing that it is. I loved getting to spend time with each and every one of them, even the ones who I sometimes wish I could shake for the things they were doing. They added a magnificent layer to everything that I was reading, and their interactions with Blake and Erica had me feeling and thinking and experiencing so much. I loved each and every one of them for different reasons, but mostly I loved them all because they were them through and through, they brought so much to the story, and they brought out so many immense and incredibly immense things from Blake and Erica. I’ve also got my fingers crossed that at some point in the future we’ll get a little bit more from some of them, because they truly were something else.
One of the many reasons Meredith Wild is a top favorite author of mine is because she creates and evokes so much varied, vibrant, and exceptionally crafted emotion and feeling in her writing that you whole heartedly experience. In Hard Love Meredith Wild gave me so many different moments with Blake and Erica that had my heart melting from all the feels and the depth behind them, had my heart racing from the shocking and riveting turn of events, had it squeezing like crazy at all that they went through, and certainly had it filling with the immense level of love and desire and passion being shared between them. While reading this book, I laughed and I cried, I also smiled more times than I could count, while thinking and wondering so much, and through it all I felt.
I felt the immense level of love and trust that Blake and Erica had for one another. I felt what it was like for them to go through everything that came there way. I felt their fierce level of fight and determination they both had to end up exactly where they wanted to be. I felt and experienced it all because Meredith Wild’s magnificent writing allowed me to feel every single amazing word of what I was reading.
Like I said, Hard Love is the perfect conclusion to this series. While reading this book everything just felt very full-circle and extremely meaningful. Erica and Blake’s hard fought journey together culminates in this extraordinary book, and Meredith Wild hit is out of the park with what she gives you from them as their story epically concludes. Through everything that you read you realize how far these characters have come and evolved from where they started, what it is that they share truly offer one another, the immense level of trust they fought to have, and why their love is so worth fighting for with everything that they’ve got. Hard Love is Blake and Erica and their insurmountable love, and it honestly doesn’t get much better than what you get from them in this book.
I could honestly continue on for with so many more words about how much I loved Hard Love (Hacker Series #5) by Meredith Wild, and why this series will remain a favorite of mine forever. The moment I finished this book, in the wee hours of the morning I might add, I cried. Not because I was sad or because I was so exhausted, but because I realized fully in that moment when it was all over, how much I literally got from Blake and Erica. I got them, who they became individually and together, I got all of their fight and the meaning behind everything they did and said and felt, but most of all I got their love. Their breathtakingly beautiful love that shows the amazing things that can really happen when two people take a risk, throw that caution to the wind, and give themselves fully to another person.
Feeling that so completely and meaningfully after reading Hard Love was nothing short of superb to experience, and is one of the many reasons The Hacker Series is one of the best series I’ve ever read. What you get from this fantastic book, these brilliant characters, and this phenomenal series is every positive adjective under the sun rolled into one extraordinary book that I guarantee will leave you fully satisfied, and in literal awe of every wondrous thing that it so fantastically gave you.
Check out the other AMAZING books in The Hacker Series:
HARDWIRED by Meredith Wild (May 12, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; The Hacker Series #1)
Determined to overcome a difficult past, Erica Hathaway learns early on how to make it on her own. Days after her college graduation she finds herself face to face with a panel of investors who will make or break her fledgling startup. The only thing she didn’t prepare for was going weak in the knees over an arrogant and gorgeous investor who’s seemingly determined to derail her presentation.
Billionaire and rumored hacker Blake Landon has already made his fortune in software, and he’s used to getting what he wants with very little resistance. Captivated by Erica’s drive and unassuming beauty, he’s wanted nothing more since she stepped into his boardroom. Determined to win her over, he breaks down her defenses and fights for her trust, even if that means sacrificing a level of control he’s grown accustomed to. But when Blake uncovers a dark secret from Erica’s past, he threatens not just her trust, but the life she’s fought so hard to create.
Buy the book!
HARDPRESSED by Meredith Wild (May 12, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; The Hacker Series #2)
Despite Blake Landon’s controlling ways, the young and wealthy hacker finally won the trust of the woman he loves. Internet entrepreneur Erica Hathaway broke down the walls that kept her from opening her heart and her business to Blake. Ready to start this new chapter in her life, Erica is determined not to let anything come between them, even if that means giving Blake back some of the control he craves in and out of the bedroom. But when demons from her past threaten their future, Erica makes a decision that could change their lives forever.
Buy the book!
HARDLINE by Meredith Wild (May 12, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; The Hacker Series #3)
Software mogul Blake Landon has met his match in headstrong Erica Hathaway. While his controlling nature and her independent spirit continue to battle, Blake has no intention of letting her out of his life again. Erica has given Blake her trust and her love, determined that they will conquer any challenges together. But when he demands more and tests the boundaries of her commitment, she is forced to face the dark desires he’s kept hidden. As their bonds grow tighter, their enemies close in. With Erica’s start-up in danger, Blake’s frustration grows as he tries to protect her from those who would ruin her only to get to him. Can their relationship survive when Blake’s enemies cross the line and threaten more than her livelihood?
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HARD LIMIT by Meredith Wild (May 12, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; The Hacker Series #4)
Blake Landon is a man who has everything-wealth, good looks, and the love of Erica Hathaway. The power couple has been through hell and back, and when life has torn them apart, somehow they have always found their way back to each other, more in love and stronger than ever. On the verge of making the ultimate commitment, Erica uncovers an unsettling chapter of Blake’s history. As she makes peace with her own past and the family who left her behind, she presses Blake to tear down the last walls between them. Determined to know the man he once was, she opens a door to a world beyond her wildest imagination-a world that has her questioning the limits of her own desires. As danger lurks and dark secrets come to light, will the past destroy their promise of forever?
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Meredith Wild is a #1 New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of romance. Living on Florida’s Gulf Coast with her husband and three children, she refers to herself as a techie, whiskey-appreciator, and hopeless romantic. When she isn’t living in the fantasy world of her characters, she can usually be found at www.facebook.com/meredithwild. You can learn more about her upcoming projects at www.meredithwild.com.
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