REVIEW: Hard to Love Series by W. Winters

I’ve been wanting to read this dark and sexy series for a while now, and just recently sat down with the prelude plus the first three books in anticipation of the release of the conclusion on March 24th. It’s easy to binge this series – each installment is short and to the point, full of suspense and plenty of steamy scenes, and the writing itself is engrossing. We follow this couple from high school and beyond, with each book ending in a crazy cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more. The prelude, Longing to Hold, is FREE on Amazon right now, so if you want to get a taste of Winters’ writing and a feel for this couple, go ahead and snatch it up (links below).

I’m fully aware that my ratings on some of the installments are lower than the average reviewer’s, but that’s because I have to isolate each one in my mind and really break it down. That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the series – far from it – it just means that there are things that pulled me out of the story within a particular book. I’m very much invested in seeing how things wind up for Seth and Laura – and luckily there isn’t long to wait for Easy to Fall. It’s the perfect time to get caught up on the series and not have to deal with those dreaded cliffhangers for long.

Reviews for the prelude and first three books included below. Easy to Fall wraps up the series and will release March 24th!

From USA Today bestselling author Willow Winters comes a heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat gripping, romantic suspense.

She was too good for this world. I was too far gone to push her away.

I grew up in this life, and now I run these streets. Blood and violence taint everything I touch.
Everything but her. She was my constant through it all.

Just a touch would singe and soothe.
Just a look would tempt and torment.
She became my escape and my addiction.
I only survived because she was by my side.

I should’ve known better than to indulge.
I should’ve known better than to let her fall for me.
It was only a matter of time before the danger bled into what we had.
I was Laura’s downfall. Problem was, she was mine too.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ An enticing tease

A quick little tease, this short story is a great way to introduce yourself to Winters’ writing and these characters. We meet Seth and Laura as high school students who haven’t yet crossed the line from (sort of) friends to lovers. It’s obvious they’re interested in each other, but Seth has a mysterious situation that holds him back from making a move. It raises more questions than it answers, and sets up the series in a way that will have you intrigued.

After reading this brief introduction, I definitely want to see how things play out for Seth and Laura. Winters’ writing style is unique and holds plenty of potential, keeping the reader in the dark while also keeping them interested. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Dark and seductive

Sexy and suspenseful, this complicated romance will draw you in. Willow Winters has a very unique writing style, one that adds plenty of intrigue to this mysterious read. While I sometimes felt like I was missing something – that’s just the nature of how complex this world she’s developed is – I was always interested in seeing what happened next. Our (anti)hero is devoted to his heroine, dominant yet affectionate… and absolutely up to no good. The first book in the series (and, YES, this does end on a major cliffhanger), it will get you hooked on the characters while also seeing that they have plenty of room for growth.

The story follows Seth and Laura, two people who are already in a loving relationship. They both have trauma in their pasts, but that serves as a connection for them. Laura knows that Seth does bad things when she’s not around, but his love her seems worth all of the drama. Seth’s feelings for Laura are powerful, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing or able to walk away from the life he’s made for himself, even when it brings trouble into their path.

This is one sexy relationship, with some steamy scenes but plenty of emotion as well. It’s easy to see the depth of Seth and Laura’s love for each other, but it’s also easy to see that there are issues to their relationship that will need to be worked out before they can have a truly lasting love. I did find the start of the book to be a little confusing, just because we jump right into their relationship already in full swing – these two have been together for a few years now, and there’s a lot that Seth is keeping from both Laura and the reader. Once I become more invested in the romance, it was much easier to follow along. I’m definitely interested in seeing what happens next, but I won’t say that I was completely engaged in the story. I think that if we had seen more of why Laura fell for Seth, it wouldn’t have been so difficult to fault her for staying with a man who is clearly doing some very bad things (and, yes, he does kill, sell drugs, run guns, etc.). I think once things come to a head, that’s where the real drama will begin – and I’m looking forward to it. I received an ARC via Candi Kane PR and am voluntarily leaving a review of this dark romance.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️ Solid suspense; shaky romance

While filled with pulse-pounding suspense, scorching scenes, and a whole lot of angst, this installment is lacking in one specific area… romance. This couple has an obvious physical connection, history, and plenty of anger, but there is a decided lack of tenderness between them. Desperate to Touch takes the dom/submissive elements to another level, with some scandalously sexy scenes and physical acts that focus on the anger that simmers between Seth and Laura. It was sexy; it wasn’t all that romantic. I’m certainly not getting warm and fuzzy feelings about their relationship or rooting for them to work things out. That alone wouldn’t be enough for me to drop this to 3 stars, but there were a few other things that turned me off (more on that later).

Seth and Laura’s story continues in this installment – both beginning and ending with a cliffhanger so it’s essential that you follow the reading order. Winters advises readers that they may want to read her Merciless series as well to fully understand some of the suspenseful elements. I’m gonna be honest – while I enjoyed the first installment, I didn’t enjoy it enough to go out and read a whole other series in preparation for this book. There’s definitely some backstory regarding Seth’s employment that I’m not completely abreast of, but honestly, that’s not the part of the series that holds my interest anyways. The focal point is really Seth and Laura, how they navigate their relationship with so much hurt and regret between them, and how they move forward.

Winters’ writing makes it easy to get drawn into the story, and that’s probably why I’m still looking forward to seeing what’s next for Seth and Laura. The emotion jumps off the page and the chemistry is definitely there. As I said, my biggest issue is their relationship. With 8 years of separation, I can’t really blame them for having moved on physically, but I didn’t love hearing Seth call Laura his little s**t during the act (and still no condom or talk?). I also didn’t love how quickly they fell back into each other’s lives, without any real deliberation over whether or not that would happen. After all, Laura ended things for a reason. As you can see, I’ve got mixed feelings about this installment. That’s sort of the problem with a series like this – the middle portion is difficult to judge without knowing how it all turns out. And I do want to see how it all turns out. I received an ARC via Candi Kane PR and am voluntarily leaving a review of this steamy, suspenseful romance.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️ Suspenseful and sexy

I am so TORN about this one – if the last installment was the steamy one, then this is the suspenseful one. It’s non-stop action with an extended separation that pulled me out of the story. But as with every book in this series, there were plenty of twists and turns that reeled me in then pushed me away again, only to leave me wanting more from this couple. We do see some serious progress in Seth and Laura’s relationship, so I was all for that, but two things hold me back from rating this higher (more on that later).

Do not even attempt to start reading this without having read the first two books in the series, because this begins and ends with major cliffhangers. There is a LOT of action in this, with both Seth and Laura getting a taste of the dark side. Other than a couple of minor hiccups (like the insistence on “punishment” and his penchant for secrets), Seth grew on me quite a bit this time around. I have a lot of empathy for him… especially considering what he still has in store for him with the finale.

Speaking of the finale, there is so much ground left to cover that I can only imagine how intense it’s going to be. Things are very much left up in the air here – with a twist that seemed like a little much for me. That combined with the extended separation are what hold me back from calling this 4 stars, but I actually did like the back half quite a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out for Seth and Laura because this has been one rollercoaster of a series so far – one I couldn’t get off of even if I wanted to. I received an ARC via Candi Kane PR and am voluntarily leaving a review of this suspenseful romance.

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Easy to Fall is Coming March 24th!

From USA Today bestselling author Willow Winters comes the epic conclusion to the heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat gripping, romantic suspense, Hard to Love series.

With her I was always on the highest high. That’s why it was so easy to fall.  

I never stood a chance without her. The two of us were made for one another. It’s as simple as that. The world could try to rip us apart, but it would fail. Until this.

She told me once, love isn’t enough. I never would have believed it … until now. Neither of us could have prepared for this.  

I won’t stop fighting. Not until the very end.

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