by Michele Mannon
Published: December 2nd, 2013, Carina Press
My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐️ (solid!)
Working as an octagon ring card girl for MMA fights, was not exactly what Logan Rettino had spent her life training for. But when her ex-fiancé dropped her on national TV, right at the pinnacle of her dancing career, and irreparably damaged her ankle, ballet no longer was her future......and neither was the fiancé. He took off with her understudy, her money and a career in tatters. Determined to get back on her feet, Logan found a way to make good money, but she doesn't have to like it! If only she could convince that dark and dangerous fighter O'Shea to come fight for her boss, or she might lose her job.
Regardless of his success as an MMA fighter, Ex-Marine, Keane O'Shea no longer finds any pleasure in the octagon. Haunted by his experiences while on active duty and a personal loss he hasn't been able to process yet, he finds different ways to numb himself from feeling anything at all. When the 'luscious' ex-ballerina turned ring girl approaches him for a favour, his initial reaction is to turn her down. But when she persists with a passion and he gets an idea of her motivation, he allows himself to be swayed, especially when she offers to over see his preparation. Keane keeps telling himself he has to steer clear of her, but somehow it's not working.
Finding themselves in close quarters for almost 24 hours a day, doesn't do much for keeping their distance, especially with the sexual desire turning the air thick. And their physical distance isn't the only thing they can't seem to keep, emotionally they are slowly becoming involved as well. Even though Keane continues to push Logan away at any sign of emotional display and especially when she pokes to closely to the source of his nightmares, he can't help but respond in an instinctively protective and possessive manner when anything threatens Logan. The 'business with benefits' arrangement they have going on is slipping out of its boundaries.....
What a debut!!!! A rock-solid FOUR stars!! AND... I am thrilled to know there will be more where this came from!! A standalone novel with a back story in the MMA octagon, that looks like the start of a series against the same backdrop. Exciting!!
Michele's writing is smooth and sure, the plot perhaps a little predictable, but her characters interesting and well fleshed out, and oh so attractive!! What really adds depth and interest to this story is the different personal losses suffered by both Logan and Keane. Another is the careful suggestions attention with respect to PTSD, a condition prevalent in many veterans which still does not receive proper attention and follow up.
Keane tries hard to avoid feeling, tries hard to avoid any connections. He doesn't want to hurt anyone and is sure he will. Intent on punishing himself he does not feel worthy of kindness or love and responds by pushing it away. Only his good friend and now Logan seem unwilling to be pushed far or for long and see the wounded person he is attempting to hide.
Logan has had her love, her pride and her entire life stripped from her, but she is tenacious. Not willing to break under the onslaught, she carries her head high, while the knocks keep piling up. She even manages to find some enjoyment in her new job, but the payback she wants on her ex is always on her mind. Through her involvement with and feelings for Keane, she becomes more invested in his well-being than her own need for retribution.
Logan cracks me up when she 'swears'.........
"Crinkle my camisole!"
A fantastic first book by a writer I definitely want to read more of! Very well-written and utterly absorbing, the story is one that will appeal to those who enjoy strong and determined heroines who will not take "no" for an answer, and good looking, dominating and dark damaged heroes, who are softer than they would like to think. And Michele Mannon knows her way around a sex scene, of course, some window-fogging hot nooky is ALWAYS a plus!!
✨A stormy, sultry and scalding start to a hot new series!!✨
**ARC provided by NetGalley and Carina Press in return for an honest review.**