When I received the notification that I would be receiving an ARC of Hard As Stone by K.M. Scott, I was excited. She is a new author to me, and I love reading new authors. After searching her profile on Amazon, I saw that, while Hard As Stone is a standalone novel, it is Book 8 in the Heart of Stone series. Wanting to be prepared, I decided to binge read the first books of that series, the story of Tristan and Nina. I was hooked from the first book. I loved just about everything about Tristan and Nina, save for the angsty moments.
Feeling prepared, I launched into Ethan’s book. Ethan is one of Tristan and Nina’s triplets and the only boy. Riding the high of the first books in the series, I soon became disillusioned. For the first third of the book, I did NOT like Ethan Stone. Not even a little bit.
Ethan Stone is everything you don’t want him to be: an entitled womanizer. Here’s the thing. I thought for sure that Nina would keep her children humble. Coming from a middle-class single parent background, I believed she would be diligent in molding them to be givers rather than takers of the Stone fortune. At first sight, that is not Ethan Stone. He’s a womanizer to boot. There were many moments in the first third of the book that I wanted to stop reading because Ethan was not likable to me. He reads emotionally immature at first. And I thought Scott could have moved the narrative along a bit faster too. Thankfully, she gives us Summer who provides a balance to Ethan’s character.
From the start, I connected with Summer. She is every woman in both body and soul, and she is not afraid to be herself with Ethan, even if she believes he cannot like her. In the bedroom, they have incredible chemistry. You need a shot of water to the face for their bedroom antics. However, Ethan seems more enamored with her for this rather than her character qualities, at least for the first part of the book. I had whiplash when it came to Ethan’s interest in her. He would move between really liking her to wanting to be with other women. Even the moment with Ilsa later in the book, when he was fairly attached to Summer, he stood there and let Ilsa paw at him. It infuriated me. It was difficult for me to believe that he was “all in” with Summer. Quite frankly, I stood with his sister, Tressa, at certain points in the book when I thought that Summer was too good for Ethan.
Now, I didn’t feel this throughout the entire book. Ethan has a secret that is eventually, after quite a bit of exasperating time, revealed. Once you learn his secret, his behavior makes sense. Unfortunately, this tends to be drawn out, and I find I can be impatient with characters who act like their heads are on a swivel.
In the first three books of the Stone series, Ethan’s father, Tristan has his faults. He’s closed off to Nina, and he keeps secrets from her. Yet, I never felt like I didn’t like him. I would become exasperated with him, but I always knew that he adored Nina (well, except for his time away from her). His son, Ethan, made me doubt the Stone series. It took me some time to accept him and Summer together. Thankfully, he redeems himself later in the book, and he becomes loveable in the end. But I struggled to accept his redemption for a bit.
Ethan’s story with his sister, Diana, holds the poignancy of Hard As Stone. Summer’s determination in accepting Ethan’s secret and helping him accept his past provides a beautiful lesson of redemption and the strength of forgiving one’s self. This truth is the power of Summer and Ethan’s story.
In love and romance,