Tag Archives: Sarah Castille

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.

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week Ending September 1st

1 Sep

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Burned_667x1000-200x300I don’t know whether to put Kaylea Cross’s latest Titanium Security book, Burned, in this “New Release” category or “Great Deals” but either way you need to take a look since she is a great military/romantic suspense writer! Her propensity for writing vibrant, intelligent heroines and military heroes with a marshmallow center for the women in their lives makes her a go-to author in my book, but the fact that her books are so affordably priced (this one is only $2.99!) makes her a bargain as well.

If you like Mary Jo Putney‘s brand of historical romance, please know that her latest book, Sometimes a Rogue, debuted this past Tuesday, August 27th. This is the fifth book in her popular Lost Lords series, involving a brave woman who tricks kidnappers into taking her instead of her pregnant sister and a former aristocrat turned Bow Street Runner.

Kendra Leigh Castle is a top-ranked paranormal romance writer in my book, so I was thrilled to see that her latest Hearts of the Fallen book, The Demon’s Desire, just came out this week. This series, which began as a fantastic novella in Vacation with a Vampire, has bloomed into a great series with a variety of vampires, demons and other assorted characters protecting their secret city of Terra Noctem from those who would want to destroy it. At only $2.99 for a full-length novel, it’s a great deal from a great writer!

Contests and Giveaways

Jennifer Ashley, author of the Highland Pleasures Victorian romance series, is giving away 10 Advanced Reader Copies of the next book, The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie, on her blog. Since it’s not coming out until October 1st, this could be your chance to revisit all those luscious Mackenzie men a little early. Leave a comment with your email address prior to Sept. 6th to enter.

Hurry up and get your entry into the giveaway for Sarah Castille’s gritty romance Against the Ropes before it’s deadline of September 3rd. This story about an underground MMA fighter and a young woman fighting the violence in her past is not to be missed. My review will be posting on the 3rd as well and you’ll be able to read just how blown away I was.

In a Cinderella meets Regency tale by Sophie Barnes, The Trouble with Being the Duke, brings together some pretty terrific elements, and you can win this first book in Barnes’ new At the Kingsborough Ball series, by entering on the Goodreads page prior to September 6th. If you’re worried you can’t wait or don’t win, the good news is that the book came out on August 27th, so feel free to order it with the above title link or get it from your favorite library or bookseller!

The excellent Bookpushers blog has a great contest (also with book bundles as prizes) going on right now, so be sure to check out the post featuring various genres in order to see if you can’t win some great (cowboy, paranormal, contemporary, sweet, erotic, etc.) books prior to the deadline of September 4th. Just post a comment with your preference to enter!

Speaking of Regency romance, author Erin Knightley is having a phenomenal giveaway of four grand prizes on her blog and each one of the prizes is a fantastic bundle of historical romance books ready for the taking. Get over there and enter immediately (the contest closes September 2nd) but also make a point in downloading her Ruined by a Rake novella, currently available for free on Amazon in ebook form!

Fun Stuff

BookshelvesGarnet Hill has some of the best skirts on the market and you or your favorite bookworm is bound to appreciate the Smocked Waist Detail Skirt in its fabulous “Bookshelves” pattern. I’m going to have to order this one to wear to work in the library!

Wondering about all the recent brohaha regarding ebook pricing and want to know more about it? A painless way of broadening your understanding would be to watch this short but well-explained version by agent Steve Axelrod, who was interviewed by the Popular Romance Project. You’ll come away understanding the publishing industry a little bit better.

Great Deals

Lovers of paranormal romance adore Sherrilyn Kenyon for good reason, and they might enjoy knowing that her 2002 novel, Fantasy Lover (the first in her Dark Hunter series) is currently reduced to $1.99 for the ebook version on Amazon.

Jeannie Lin is getting a great reputation for historical romance that (finally!) ventures outside of Regency Europe. A great way to sample her writing would be to take advantage of the current Amazon discount for her novella, Capturing the Silken Thief, which is free as of this moment. With a musician in the Tang Dynasty desperately needing to buy her freedom by stealing a book of poetry, who better than a handsome scholar to help?

For those of you, like me, who can’t get enough sci-fi romance, particularly when it involves sexy aliens and human women, you’ll love the chance to try Anna Zaires’ first book in her The Krinar Chronicles, Close Liaisons for free as an Amazon Kindle book. With a shy college student from New York City and powerful alien who spots her and must have her, this has a few New Adult shades built into it. I cannot wait to read it!

 

 

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