Tag Archives: MMA

You’ll Find Yourself Down For the Count With Abby Niles’ Latest, Winning Love

26 Aug

Winning Love (Love to the Extreme #3 – Mac and Gayle) by Abby Niles (Entangled: Select, August 26, 2014)

Gah. When I read the second book in Abby Niles’ Love to the Extreme series, Fighting Love, I remember thinking “well, there’s no way she can top this one” but I appreciate a writer proving me wrong!

Designed so they can be read independently from one another, the latest installment of this MMA-focused collection of novels, Winning Love, delivers the to-die-for characters and heart-wrenching dilemmas of the rest of Niles’ work. Heat is delivered in abundance as Love to the Extreme characters never just “sort of” want each other; they contract a flat-out, bad case of lust from the get go.

Mac Hannon has returned to Kansas to help out a good friend of his, despite his finding MMA success in his new life in Atlanta. It’s not easy to be around people who knew him when he was a laid back chef who loved his wife and enjoyed training for the ring. After the tornado that robbed him of not only his life but his future, Mac earned his moniker of “the Snake” by channeling all his rage into the cold way he cuts down his opponents. Shacking up at a friend’s farmhouse has the not so welcome surprise of the professor next door being anything but a gray-haired old maid. Gayle Andrews has killer curves and a smile that lights up a room. When she clearly sets her sights on Mac, he knows he’s in more trouble than if he was fighting against the #1 ranked contender.

Gayle is happy to help her neighbor and his cute daughter whenever they need her since she’s come to treasure friends and experiences when she can get them. Having had everyone close to her ripped away from her in her youth drove her passion with meteorology. Becoming one of the premier storm chasers allows Gayle to face her darkest fear on a regular basis and remind herself she’s alive. One of her favorite ways to do that is to find someone sexy to spend some time with, and Mac’s expiration date and proximity makes him the perfect fling. She can tell he’s into her and she’s going to lay it all on the line as she can see he needs to let go of the dark knight brood he’s got going and live a little. But when her job and his past collide, Gayle is despondent as the future she couldn’t help imagining despite her best intentions can never happen, no matter how her feelings are telling her otherwise.

Fighting Love (Love to the Extreme #2 – Tommy and Julie) by Abby Niles (Entangled: Select, December 31, 2013) – Mac appears in this book as well with his dark past well-hinted at while he helps along Tommy and Julie’s transition from best friends to lovers.

Reasons I adored this book. Gayle is an effervescent, uber-smart woman who fiercely embraces life in order to get the most out of it, and her pigtail-sporting head has some serious seduction techniques trapped inside. Mac never stood a chance! And a chiseled fighter who has remained true to his wife’s memory who is also a restaurant-level cook? Ladies, where do we sign up? Kansas should use this book as marketing to get people to move to the state. Single women would be populating farmhouses in a heartbeat.

It’s impossible not to fall for these empathetic characters (and Niles provides her usual brand of strong supportive secondary sidekicks destined for a feature role in the next book in the series), but the conflict is so outstanding, I kept turning the page desperately trying to figure out how Mac and Gayle were going to work through their differences. Both of them were forced to confront their darkest fear in their desperate bid to see if they could be together and their version of compromise was nothing short of perfect while also being highly realistic. The sex was off the charts hot (another Niles speciality) but I honestly think that the muddy, obstacle course event Gayle suckers Mac into doing was one of the most sensual and emotional scenes I’ve read in some time. Well done, Abby!

This book is a full-length novel and the price of under $6 for the ebook and around $11 for the paperback reflects that. Abby Niles is one of those authors I will cheerfully pay full-price for as she delivers a quality of writing that I think is at the top of the contemporary romance genre.

Happy reading!

 

Rising Assets by Rebecca Zanzetti Will Have Your Blood Pressure Skyrocketing…In the Best Way

31 Mar

Rising Assets (Maverick Montana #3 – Colton and Melanie) by Rebecca Zanzetti (Entangled Brazen, March 31, 2014)

It’s an unfortunate truth that while I love Western romance, I rarely get the pleasure of a novel that meets me on all counts – evoking a strong sense of place, emphasizing an imperfect but loving family, possessing driving conflict and providing an off the charts steamy romance.

Yet Rebecca Zanzetti scores perfect 10s in every category with her Maverick Montana series and she particularly knocks it out of the park with Rising Assets, the third book in these Western romances (we’ve plenty more siblings, thank heavens, so more books to come!).

Colton Freeze is both a cowboy comfortable chasing down stray cattle on the back of a horse as well as a keen businessman who wears an expensive suit while choosing his family’s investments. He has a life plan, a business plan, and probably a couple of others and no one ever changes them. No one would dare.

Except his best friend, Melanie Jacobs, that is. He’s spent his life ignoring the fact that she is of the feminine persuasion, but seeing her working her third job in the scanty attire of a barmaid has him seeing red. If she was hard up for money why didn’t she come to him? And when did her ass become so amazing?

Mel isn’t going to anyone for help, because her problem is of the most private kind. Recently having discovered that her biological clock isn’t just ticking, it’s almost run out of steam, has hurt her profoundly. That her pushy best friend Colton is back in town and demanding answers – and worse, offering to help – is a complication she didn’t need, one that ratchets into the stratosphere when their incessant arguing leads to a kiss that rocks both their world.

Glacier National Park in Montana (Public domain image via Pixabay)

Glacier National Park in Montana (Public domain image via Pixabay)

Now Mel has thrown Colt through a loop and everything is falling apart, his family’s business hits roadblocks, his best friend is hiding a secret, and the entire town is betting on when he and Mel will get together. But Mel isn’t going to let Colt throw his plan away on her no matter how badly she wants a baby while she can still make one, no matter how much this man doesn’t hear “no” when people are yelling it at him.

If you haven’t read Rebecca Zanzetti yet, this is the series to try. It’s impossible not to love every single person in this family, including the extended “friends” who are really family and the tight-knit town with its eccentric characters wins you over in a heartbeat. Zanzetti writes for the Brazen line for a reason – her sex scenes are un-freakin-believable and the dominant Colt and his ability to see a thrown gauntlet will induce a sweat no matter how cold it is outside.

Take advantage of Entangled’s amazing  $.99 deal for recently published books – you don’t need to read the previous books to appreciate the nuances of this installment in the series. Compelling heroes and heroines who know how to heat up the sheets (when they even get to a bed, which isn’t often), lots of loving family and a Western setting that will make your heart ache, is what the Montana Maverick series, and Rising Assets in particular, has to offer.

Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille Takes You To Hot, Sexy, Slightly Disturbing Places

3 Sep

Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille (Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 3, 2013) – great cover although it’s missing Max’s phenomenal tattoos

In the world of romance, the only thing better than a hot, underground MMA fighter is a hot, millionaire, underground MMA fighter and that’s exactly what we get in Max “Torment” Huntingdon, the hero in Sarah Castille‘s fabulous novel, Against the Ropes.

Yet the entire book is told from the heroine, Makayla’s perspective, one that begins with her trying to help her best friend at the underground warehouse which serves as the training center and an official fight location for this local, unsanctioned MMA ring. Despite Makayla strong physical reaction to witnessing violence, the EMT in her can’t help but reach out and help when people get hurt. That she is wrestling with some very traumatic issues from her childhood regarding violence, makes this reaction easy to understand and the reader instantly comprehends Makayla’s bravery in entering into a relationship with Max despite his personality which craves the show of strength he gets by doing MMA.

Max is an irresistible yet flawed individual who you end up loving because of his flaws as much as due to his caring nature. He makes a lot of mistakes with Makayla (as she does with him) but you root for the two of them to make it work since they each give each other way more than they take. Love – true love – always creates more than the sum of two people, and this couple shows how that can become a reality. Castille’s sex scenes between Max and Makayla practically cause the pages to burst into flame and it’s not shocking she’s won numerous contests in the erotic romance category.

Should you be interested in beginning your own underground fighting ring, please note that the actual equipment can be rented easily (although I imagine you’ll have to pay extra for cleaning off all the blood).

It’s tough to go too much into the plot with a typical summary since this book lives inside Makayla’s head. There is a distinct progression in their relationship and if you like possessive alpha males you will have noooooooo problem with Max, particularly when you discover why he might be a tad hypervigilant. Makayla is also dealing with insane student loan issues (and I confess to thinking this was the most unrealistic part of the novel – underground millionaire MMA fighter with venture capitalist firm, no problem, but harassing phone calls with threats to repossess your parent’s house for YOUR student loans, not freakin’ likely). She is however, surrounded by good friends and plenty of male interest, and in the middle of trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life (she was pre-med at the top of her class). Perhaps because of that element, and since Castille uses the first person to tell this story, I actually feel that there were a lot of factors which place this novel in the “new adult” category, if that’s an interest of yours.

Castille’s writing is outstanding in the sense that this is an insightful, deeply psychological novel that delves into the heroine’s head and sifts through some pretty deep stuff. Makayla doesn’t initially realize that she craves the dominance Max offers her (although her body understands pretty quickly). Yet her hot, steamy, highly erotic encounters with him often trigger flashbacks to the violence in her childhood. At first it’s unbelievably disturbing and I found myself, like Makayla, resisting the idea that she could be sexually turned on by something that would dredge up these memories. But by the end of the book it’s clear that this tension exists because Makayla’s brain is helping her reconcile her memories of violence done out of anger by an unhealthy person with the reality in front of her – namely that Max’s violence is controlled and strategic, born of a desire to protect the people important to him.

The MMA part of this was smart – fans of Kele Moon’s Battered Hearts series would find a lot to love here – and Castille writes every character with respect and depth, no mean feat! I hate the first person (it takes an amazing author like Charlotte Stein to get me to get past that hurdle) but I loved Against the Ropes don’t plan on fighting the purchase of any future Sarah Castille books which are going right into my “must read” list.

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