Review: Hard Rules by Lisa Renee Jones

Posted August 11, 2016 by Shannon in Blog Tours, Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: Hard Rules by Lisa Renee JonesHard Rules (Dirty Money, #1) by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Dirty Money #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on August 9th 2016
Genres: Adult, Crime, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 320

Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in the smoldering, scorching first novel in the explosively sexy new Dirty Money series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones.
How bad do you want it?
The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family's business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.
Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.

Hard Rules release blitz


Let’s just get to the nitty gritty, shall we?

Now hear this, my good friends: I would not lie to you, I simply can’t. So know that what I’m about to tell you is 100% honest and not in the least bit embellished. There was a large portion of this book where I had NO IDEA what the heck was going on. Zip. Nada. Nothing. I don’t know if I was all of a sudden drunk while reading or just couldn’t follow along or what, but apparently some pieces were just going completely over my head. But don’t worry, I figured it out eventually (LOL). After a few days of mulling this over, I think I’ve come to a conclusion as to why this may be. Personally, I feel like there was too much going on in the one book of this new series. It seems like the author thought of this grand plot, and then decided to shove all of the ground work and baselines in to one novel, without a lot of anything else. It may have been better executed (again, own opinion, no one else’s) if perhaps we got 3/4 of what we did plot wise, and more relationship development in Hard Rules, and then added in more plot twists or finished the ground work at the beginning of the second book. It just seems like a lot to take in all at once, and I think this is where my biggest problem derives from.

With being confused at different times throughout the book, I found that I wasn’t really getting as into it as I had originally hoped. There were a few times I had to reread pages and paragraphs because I simply had no clue as to what was happening, or I was just becoming bored. I don’t know what the change was, but once I started on that last 20% the journey finally started to make more sense to me; I understood the characters more and what they were trying to accomplish. This doesn’t mean I still don’t have a million and one questions, but this section hooked me and didn’t release. I think I’ll be stuck with this series for a while, because I just have to know what happens!

“Blood divides as easily as it unites, especially when money and power are involved.”

The suspense! The intrigue! I guess on the flip side of the coin, this means I have absolutely no clue what’s going to happen or where this story might go. I don’t know or have guesses as to how it’ll turn out, who might do what, where loyalties lie, any of it.

“Who burned you, Emily?”
I blanch but recover with a quick, “Who says anyone burned me?”
“I see it in your eyes.”
“Back to my eyes,” I say.
“Yes. Back to your eyes.”
“Stop looking.”
“I can’t.”

It’s not a shocker that I enjoy cliffhangers, I think they’re fun, will keep you on your toes and always have you guessing as to what will happen next. Now the ending to Hard Rules has some of these elements, but I didn’t think it was as intense as I maybe would have hoped. Based on how it ended, I feel like it’s going to be a pretty easy fix from the current situation to get back on track. It may not seem that way for everyone, but I’ve got a fairly reasonable idea of how to fix said predicament.

One of the first things that I noticed about Shane and Emily was the fact that not only were they both quick and witty, but they can hold a conversation. And I’m not just talking about a flirty, “I think he’s cute”, type of conversation. There was substance, they could speak about important topics and the other would always have a thought, idea, opinion, and wouldn’t be afraid to voice it. And these two were excellent at thinking on their feet, which was both important and impressive considering the situations that they’re dealing with. I loved all this! It was so much more than just fluff. Then, when the conversations turned to quick witted banter, I was thrilled.

Overall I really enjoyed these characters and how they play off of each other. Shane seems super alpha which I love, and I appreciate how Emily can and will stand up to him and his family. I’m quite excited to see how this all plays out.

“We are one in this moment, two people lost and found in each other, both of us fighting a battle the other understands in ways no one else can.”

I know this can be the point with cliffies, but ultimately upon finishing I’m left with more questions than answers. In fact, I think I’m left with only questions, I’m not sure if i was given a single answer during Hard Rules. But you know what? That just makes me that much more eager to figure out what the heck is going on.

Whether you want to call them themes or just issues that play a major part in the story, I loved the back and forth between both of the characters gaining and giving trust and control. It was a constant struggle, the push and pull, but it was exciting to watch and experience the characters going through the emotions dealing with this challenge. I’m excited to see how this give and take continues in the subsequent novels.

“Say nothing or tell me everything, but don’t lie to me.”

When I started Hard Rules, I had no idea that it was going to be as big of a project as it is. I knew it ended with a cliffhanger, so I thought it might just be two books but no, it’s four! There is a lot going on for this to become four books but at this point I’m quite intrigued and excited for the next one. As I already mentioned, the last fifth or so of the book really captured my attention and now I’m dying to see what happens next with Emily, Shane and Brandon Enterprises.

I have never seen Sons of Anarchy or Wall Street, so really I shouldn’t be making comparisons but I’m going to anyways, because… I can. I have no clue what SOA is even about, but from what I’ve heard about Wall Street, this description of comparing it to both seems spot on. Like, 100% accurate, and it’s exciting to see that. Drugs, dirty money, the good guy vs the bad guy, who will prevail? What will the casualties amount to and will Shane and Emily be able to take over the company, get it clean and keep each other in the process? Who knows, but I know I’ll definitely be along for the ride to find out.

I don’t wanna be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. —Frank Costello

As I’m sure you can figure out, this was not the average reading experience for me but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. Now WHY on earth do I have to WAIT UNTIL FEBRUARY? If I use my grabby hands, do you think it’ll come faster? Hmm?

*An ARC was provided by the author and InkSlinger in exchange for an honest review.








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About Lisa Renee Jones

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists.

Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.

Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

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