Against the Ropes by Jeanette Murray #Review

Against the Ropes by Jeanette Murray #Review
Against the Ropes

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Series: #2 First to Fight
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on October 6, 2015
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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So a PR gal in tight pencil skirt and high spiked heels sets out to corral a boxing team of alpha Marine boxers while fending off a smarmy reporter, and trying to figure out who is sabotaging the team and why. But the all business gal finds a certain devil may care Marine has plans for her sexy heels and long, long legs and his plans are the opposite of strictly business.

This is the second book in the First to Fight series that continues the story of Brad Costa and Marianne while shifting the spotlight to another pair of lovers. The books build on each other though in a pinch I suppose they could be read as standalones.

Greg Higgs didn’t feel that strongly about joining the team and planned to treat this time as some fun before he went back to regular duty. But somewhere along the way, he started caring and taking an interest. Part of his interest is in the cute PR gal who wears those starched up suits, high heels, and tight buns that leave him having sexy fantasies of unleashing Reagan’s wild side. He slowly works on her all-business attitude even while holding back all the things he keeps tucked away about his past from her curious questions.

“I don’t want to mess this up. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be on the team, but now I am. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to tangle with a woman, but I do. And I wasn’t sure I wanted that woman to be you, but she is, and I’m glad, but it’s …terrifying.”

  1. 137 Greg from Against the Ropes

Reagan Robilard needs to make this job a success to prove to her disbelieving family back home that she could make something of herself and to prove that to herself. She’s fresh out of college and got the job on gumption, but now she has to prove that she can do it. She feels the pressure mount as the saboteur continues to wreck havoc, a newspaperman is treating the series of vandalism attacks as his ticket to stardom, and a certain Marine pushes her to let her hair down and have fun even while she knows he is holding something back.

Greg needs to find a way to open up to Reagan or he’ll lose her and Reagan needs to figure out how to fight to hold her job.

Alright, so I enjoyed this book for the most part. I liked the characters. They bantered and circled around each other and it was a slow developing romance.

It was wrong, and she shouldn’t press, but she had to know. “Why did you stop (kissing)?”

His smile was slow, and it sent alarm bells ringing in her head, but she wasn’t quite sure which ones.

The alarm that said ‘Run now’! or, the one that said, ‘Suppers on, come and get it!’

“You were expecting it.”

“I…okay.” She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the door. “So what if I was?”

“When I kiss you the first time, its not going to be expected. And its not going to feel the way you ‘think’ you should feel.”

Reagan turned that over in her head for a moment as she got in the car. She let it marinate while he drove them out of the parking lot, and half the way home.

“How do you know what I think I should feel?”

“Legs,” he said without taking his eyes off the road, “You’ve got TTBP all over you.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask…but TTBP?”

He grinned, his face illuminated in the headlights of a passing truck. “Trying to be Professional. You play the starched up business lady during the day, and you tried to bring her out tonight. But you’ve got a wild streak that you’re trying to keep hidden for some reason or another. When you’re ready to let that loose, then we’ll see.”

  1. 57-58 Greg and Reagan from Against the Ropes

I also enjoyed the other relationships weaving through it. Like Brad and Marianne are still very present as are the intriguing possibility of Graham and Kara. There is also the ongoing issue of the sabotage though I’ve got a pretty good idea of who it is and it’s driving me nuts that it’s still not resolved. Hopefully in book three? And who wouldn’t enjoy hard-bodied athletic Marine’s doing gym work or that one wet boxer line up? Whew, be still my heart, people!


Yeah, there’s a but though not a huge one. For all that, I spent long periods of this book struggling to engage. I wasn’t in hate with the story or even dislike; it was more like indifference until things got rolling with the conflict and tension of the latter half. And, I really would have liked more on the boxing front. The one time Greg boxes it is from Reagan’s perspective and she ducks out in the middle of his bout.

Beyond the romance of Greg and Reagan, I found the author’s inclusion of scenes where they both spend time with their friends particularly Greg with the other guys or when the whole gang gets together was a plus. I’m generally into romances that are told within a larger story rather than in isolation. Some threads are left open-ended so I’m eager to pick up the next book to see where they lead.

So, despite the fact that it took a bit for this story to get going for me, I still had a good time. The witty banter, the humor, the everyday folk, the tender slow burn romances, and that pesky sabotage situation all come together for a satisfying read. Though this one is about Marine boxers, I would categorize it more as a sport romance than a military one with the romance being a blend of spicy and sweet. I would definitely recommend the series for those who enjoy slow developing Contemporary Romance.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Romance Roundabout #327 CR

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About Jeanette Murray

Jeanette lives just outside St. Louis with her husband, daughter and their lovable-but-stupid Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing her next romance, she’s found hanging out with the new friends she’s made here, catching up with old friends from past duty stations on Facebook, or surfing Pinterest pretending she can cook. Catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter for contests, sneak peeks of what she’s working on, and updates about her life in general.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.


  1. I wish I could have finished this one, but it ended up in my DNF pile. I couldn’t connect with the heroine and the hero seemed like a free spirit just floating through life with no plan other than the Marines and boxing being a job. So I gave up. Glad you stuck with it.

    1. I was tempted to set it down, but the overall series arc is what kept me going even if the couple didn’t grab me. I want to know who that saboteur is and a few of those Marines need a story. Yeah, sometimes its just not the right book, Stephanie, and I have set aside a few myself.

  2. That’s so fun the story of the first couple continues while also setting up my favourite part. I like series with a different couple for each book, but it’s the best of you still hear aout the previous characters as well. This couple sounds like a fun combination with the PR business lady and the boxer guy. And I like some good banter in romance books. That’s too bad you didn’t get engaged till later of the book and I definitely would expect more boxing scenes in a book like this, especially with that cover. Great Review!

    1. It was fun that the first couple are still right there continuing along and actually the third couple have been there all along, too, even if they are just part of the group. I do like it when people from different career and backgrounds are brought together in a romance.

      Yeah, I had a hard time getting more than mildly interested for a lot of this book. Boxing isn’t my favorite sport, but I did expect some scenes in actual bouts. Guess I’m bloodthirsty. 🙂

  3. Aw bummer it was hard to connect with it for a while. I enjoyed it quite a bit and yeah I love when they’re with their friends. That always makes it a little more special for me 🙂 I’m really curious who is behind the attacks. I’ve got my suspicious but no clue if I’m even in the right playing field. lol

    1. I honestly can’t put my finger on why I struggled to engage with the story. He’s fun and flirty and she was so uptight and resistant. Usually, I find that fun. And the saboteur situation has me pretty sure, but with some doubt. Can’t wait to see if I’m right.

        1. Yeah, that’s exactly it. I was distracted even while liking it. I find it so much easier to explain things when I out and out dislike or really like something. The vagueness is tougher to explain.

  4. Don’t you love those teasers that doesn’t get fully resolved, and makes you want to read the next one. I love witty banter though, its always so entertaining. And the best humor around.