Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“You are everything I ever wanted, Harper. But more than anything, I want you to be happy, even if that means being with someone else.”
When I wrote my review for the first book in Emily Goodwin’s newest duet, Hard Place, I mentioned that Goodwin was setting us up for a triangle. The Hard Love duet offers the story of Harper and Alex. In Hard Place, we found them fighting each other, but also fighting their feelings. When they begin to recognize their attraction to each other, they realize that their initial judgments of each other are wrong. Their chemistry grows exponentially, and they finally act upon it towards the end of that first book. All of it becomes complicated when Alex decides to tell Harper that he’s falling in love with her except he walks in on her seeing her “baby daddy” Michael for the first time in over 5 years.
Hard Truth starts up where the first book leaves off. This second book explores Harper’s complicated feelings for Michael and Alex. With one, she idealizes their interaction because it offered her a security she needed at the time. With the other, she feels the most like her self and a connection that transcends the other. This book isn’t the “enemies-to-lovers” trope. Instead, it sets up the triangle and takes its time in showing us how Harper reconciles her connection to both men.
I had mixed feelings about Hard Place. As I mentioned in my review for that book, I felt as though it could have moved the story along more quickly. I was hoping Hard Truth would do the same. Harper’s character tends to wax poetic on everything, sometimes feeling repetitious. After reading Hard Truth, I do feel like this duet could have been revised to one book. Generally, I like Emily Goodwin’s books. But I struggled with this duet simply because it felt as though Goodwin was “gilding the lily” with respect to Harper’s story. I understand her need to develop Harper’s background, Alex’s past, and finding a place for Michael since he is her “baby daddy.” However, there were moments that sounded as though we had heard it before. Even more, Goodwin offers up a stalker sub-plot. I’m not sure it was necessary as an addition to the triangle story. It’s clear that it underscores Harper’s poverty, and it provides a way to get Alex to Harper again. But this subplot didn’t feel organic to the story. So what do I think is done well with this story?
- Alex’s journey. In the first book, Alex is emotionally closed off due to the abuse of his past. He says it best in this book when he talks about overcompensating for his emotional scars with drinking, women, and work. This second book is his ultimate victory over his past. Watching him mature emotionally in his love for Harper, reclaiming himself, is the strongest part of Goodwin’s story.
- The general storyline of the book is interesting. Again, with more revision, this would have been more engaging. Harper and Alex’s evolution into love, Michael’s complication of that journey, and the insertion of Alex’s sister and Harper’s friends pull you through the romance.
There is really so much that is important about Harper and Alex’s story. This is a romance of resilience, of overcoming past hurts, past choices, and the present. Thankfully, both Alex and Harper find redemption in themselves and with each other. Their “happily-ever-after” is a beautiful reward to a hard-fought battle. If you are a fan of enemies-to-lovers, love triangles, then you should download Emily Goodwin’s, Hard Truth (and its first book, Hard Place).
In love and romance,