This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Published by Carina Press
Released on December 2, 2013
A mean, cold yet brutal MMA fighter and a seemingly washed up prima ballerina? Deal me in! The world of cage fighting was the backdrop, but the real bouts were going on in the bedroom, locker room, cable car…well urm, you get the picture. There was a certain amount of satisfaction watching this story play out in its rawness and passion.
The story opens with Logan Rettino discovering that yes, her life could slip just a little lower. She was once a gifted ballerina and in her prime set to be a huge success on the world stage until her ex talked her into a reality show dance competition where he dropped her and shattered her ankle and her dreams. To add insult to injury, he declared that it was her well-endowed bosom that got in the way and not his wrong footing to balance them. The media ate this up and she was notorious now. He also cheated on her with her understudy, bought a condo and expensive furniture after she naively agreed to joint accounts which left her without a career, savings or much beyond her own pride and self-respect. Her friend got her the lucrative gig of being a ring girl for MMA fights which would allow her to payback the medical bills for her ankle surgery and build some start up money to open a dance studio which was her new dream.
But in one night, she bumbles into one of the fighters when a fan gets a little fresh and her jerk of a boss loses his temper on her when the fighter says he’s done. Logan felt the spark between her and the lethal fighter, O’Shea. She knows her boss wants him for the big championship in Vegas so in desperation Logan gets Jerry to agree to let her keep her job if she can get O’Shea to continue fighting.
Keane O’Shea just wants to be left in peace. He has dark emotions swirling around inside him and anger that boils over. He’s barely holding it together. He soothes the anger temporarily through fighting, booze, and women. It’s not working and he just needs to find somewhere that people will leave him alone and that doesn’t include fighting for that snake Jerry. He sees the beautiful classy woman sitting across from him begging for him to fight the six bouts that will take him to Vegas because it means she keeps her job. Logan is trouble and he wants nothing to do with her other than maybe to scratch his itch.
It takes a while, but Logan finally talks Keane into it and she has his word in a business arrangement. She can see that something is riding him and that’s why he shuts people out and reacts so strongly to things which makes her re-think what she’s asking him to do. An even bigger mistake is when against all warnings from him that anything they do together will be strictly physical, she falls in love with the tough lethal male.
Keane sees it coming and tries to hold Logan away from him. He doesn’t want her falling for him because he knows he’s screwed up. She has wormed her way under his skin and she is persistent that he get help even when he makes it clear that she needs to let it go. He tries to protect her even if it means breaking her heart a little now. He’ll finish what he started in the ring, but they will go their separate ways afterward.
This one had a way of following the voice of the narrator very well even down to the pacing. Logan’s perspective is more thoughtful and slows down as she tries to get through those emotional barriers Keane has erected to keep other’s out and his issues inside. Logan came across as almost ditzy in her ignorance of the fight world she found herself in, but in her personal life and her own world of dance she was so much more. This girl took the lemons and shot some tequila with them. Her vulnerability, but determination was a good balance. I was impressed with this heroine in many ways.
When Keane is the narrator, he is barely holding it together. He is messed up from a past he tries to forget though it’s not going anywhere. It causes him to lash out at people including Logan who prod him to let them in. He also feels tender and protective toward Logan and her beautiful innocence. He falls in love reluctantly. His page time is less because he is a pretty intense, focused guy. He doesn’t overthink things and he’s pretty direct even if he does try to avoid his issues because he thinks he deserves to carry around all his guilt.
The plot was good and pacing nice for the most part. Keane and Logan blew through their strictly business arrangement quickly when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Keane blew hot and cold, but knowing the turmoil he was going through it made perfect sense. I liked that they didn’t deny wants and feelings and the honesty was there constantly. This relationship had its issues, but undue angst and wishy-washy behavior were not part of it. It was hard to see Keane struggling, but it was really cool to see Logan, no matter what her ex did to her in the past and how hard Keane pushed her away, reaching out to him- loyal and open- even if she knew that he would reject her and her help.
The fighting backdrop seemed appropriately described to me (I’m almost as ignorant as Logan so take that with a grain of salt). Scenes in the cage were described so that the fights were interesting without making me squeamish. Terminology was used, but was either self-explanatory or got explained in the context. Speaking of the back drop, that leads me to a few things dealing with the guy in charge and biggest cause of Logan and Keane’s misery much of the time. I’m not as familiar with the MMA fighting world and its rules, but that fight promoter Jerry seemed really dirty to me. I found it hard to believe that he got away with some obvious stuff too- changing venues for the weigh-in, screwing with the scales, picking who would face off in the rounds leading to the championship. He was fixing things and I just can’t believe there weren’t officials picking up on this. He was a worm and made for a good villain so I guess he served his purpose.
The only real niggle I had was that the end was rushed and things happened in a distant way compared to the rest of the book. When Logan and Keane part ways, it stays on Logan’s Point of View through the end. Yes, I do understand what the author was doing here and it was fine to keep stuff least in sight to build up the suspense, but when the surprise was sprung I would have loved the details of how Keane got from Point A to Point B so to speak. Not to say the story was ruined or anything, but I guess I wanted more after all that had gone on before building to that point. Greedy me!
All in all, this was a very enjoyable read to see both these people come back and not just get a chance at love, but a second chance at life. Those who enjoy sport romances or romances with ex-military in them should give this one a try.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.