I read the first half of Hard Core while in the L.A. airport waiting for a red-eye flight home from a motorcycle show/business trip. I was so engrossed I nearly missed my flight call!
As regular readers know, I am a total sucker for tough-guy heroes who are hurt… who we get to see a vulnerable side of.
The situation that the main character (Cristian) was in couldn’t have been more so. With a gunshot wound and infection at the beginning of the book… I LOVED that his injuries/fever lead to him sharing a lot more of himself than we would otherwise have ever seen. (Great way to get backstory in too.) Little things like the fact that he’s afraid of needles and does not want to be called by his given name (for the first half of the book) gave me a clear picture of him. (And man, was that picture sexy!)
I love that the girl gets to be the hero (at least for the first half of the book). And this particular girl (Alana) had a few hang-ups of her own that made her real, such as an over-the-top moral code and a guilt/love relationship with her father. As one who also writes characters in medical or health crisis, and use that to show how it changes the character, I was looking for just a little more character change in her. (Seems Cristian did the lion’s share of changing in this story, and perhaps that’s perfectly fine.)
Everyone loves to hate the villain, and this one was downright nasty. I didn’t see his horrifying plan coming, so I got a great OMG moment there. A pleasant surprise was Cristian’s mercenary co-workers/buddies. They didn’t show up until half-way through the book, but I can see plenty of potential for them to have their own stories.
It’s sort of an expectation that the hero (Cristian) gets to save the damsel in distress at the climax. Which he does…and he doesn’t. I don’t want to say too much here, and ruin anyone’s enjoyment, but I will say that the author put a refreshing twist on this and drew out my reading pleasure. Looking forward to more from Jennifer Lowery!