October 29, 2015

EARLY REVIEW: Hard Beat (Driven #7)

Hard Beat (Driven #7), by K. Bromberg
Publish Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Foreign war correspondent Tanner Thomas is addicted to living on the edge. Needing the adrenaline rush of his job to help him cope with a personal loss, he throws himself back into the game, concentrating all his energy on getting the next big story.

But when he meets his new photojournalist, Beaux Croslyn, he can’t help but feel like he’s losing his focus—and maybe risking more…

With secrets she won’t address, Beaux is far from your ordinary woman. Determined to keep her distance, she’s willing to pull Tanner in closer and hide behind the sparks flying between them. But as Beaux’s past begins to put their relationship—and their lives—at risk, Tanner’s determination to find the truth puts them both in jeopardy.

He's ready to chase her to the ends of the earth to find out if what they had was real, or if the danger surrounding them was just an exquisite heat fated to burn out…

HARD BEAT is the seventh book in K. Bromberg's Driven series, but if I hadn't just told you that, I doubt you'd know that just by reading it. No doubt about it - this is a different sort of book than what we're used to seeing from Bromberg. Hard Beat might be stressful and edgy and dramatic, but it does still feature a hot bad boy living on the edge. And that's just one of the things that made this book great. 

Hard Beat focuses on Rylee's brother Tanner. He's a foreign war correspondent. I don't know about you, but this profession was a first for me. I've never read a book with a character who had this job before. I wonder what sort of intensive research Bromberg did before writing Hard Beat, because she made Tanner's job come to life. It's clear that it's a dangerous job, but the people who are doing it are 100% dedicated to the thrill of getting the story, no matter the danger. I really felt that through the whole thing. I was constantly worried about Tanner and Beaux as they navigated the intricacies of Middle Eastern politics and the US military presence there. 

That's the other thing that's totally unique about Hard Beat. It takes place nearly entirely in the Middle East. A specific country is never given, but one could assume it's a place like Afghanistan or Iraq. It seems a desolate setting for a book, but given Tanner's and Beaux's profession, it's really perfect. 

Tanner's photojournalist partner has recently been killed on the job, and he's having a hard time getting over it, mostly because she was also his best friend in the world. So, he's been saddled with a new partner - Beaux - and he's having a hard time with that as well. To say that he wasn't nice to her in the beginning is putting it mildly. He resents that she's there to take his former partner's place. And he resents that he's so attracted to her too. He's there to do a job that he's very serious about, and in his mind, Beaux is nothing but an unwanted distraction.

Relationships had always been fun while they lasted, but no one, and I mean no one, has ever made me thing for one iota of a second of hanging up my credentials. The day that happens will be the day I know love from lust.

For her part, Beaux is a tough chick. She has to be to do what she does. So, she fights back. Tanner and Beaux were like oil and water - they just could not get along no matter what happened. Honestly, Tanner was a total asshole to Beaux. I felt so badly for her. And, try as he may, Tanner just can't figure her out. There seems to be two sides to her - the side she allows him to see and the side that she keeps to herself. As their passionately abrasive encounters turn passionately hot and sexy, Tanner starts to question Beaux and her actions more and more. It's clear she's hiding things - he just has no idea what they are or why she won't tell him.

"You want something from me, and it has to do with whatever you're hiding up your sleeve. So now we're playing this game on my terms from here on out. How's it feel to want something you can't have?"

"I understand more than you'll ever know," she whispers.

For the entire book there's this overlying tension that was very palpable. As we get closer and closer to the end, and more of Beaux's secrets come out, that tension was manifested in very real ways on the page. Toward the end, there were a few WTF moments where I was totally confused and couldn't wait to have my questions about Beaux answered. I loved that about Hard Beat. It's for this reason that, unlike the last two books in this series, this is not a dual POV. Tanner tells the whole story, so we find out about Beaux's backstory at the same time he does. I imagine my reaction was pretty similar to his. 

This book was nearly perfect for me - truthfully, the only reason I couldn't give it 5 stars was because of the cover design. I know, I know - how petty, right? But, the couple on the cover looks like they belong in a law firm. Beaux and Tanner NEVER dressed like that - why would they in the middle of the desert? Cover design aside, I personally loved the shift in setting and feel of Hard Beat. It was fascinating and sexy and dangerous. We do see a little of Rylee and Colton, but for the most part, the focus is entirely on Tanner and Beaux and the dangerous job they have to do. There's still a lot more awesome stories to come in the Driven world, and I can't wait to see what's next. 

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