Tag: MMA Romance

Review: Against the Cage by Sidney Halston

Posted September 27, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Against the Cage by Sidney HalstonReviewer: Holly
Against the Cage by Sidney Halston
Series: Worth the Fight #1

Publication Date: May 27th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 256
Add It: Goodreads
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For Chrissy Martin, returning to her Florida hometown always seems to bring bad luck. The day starts with a breakup text, followed by a jailhouse phone call from her troublemaker brother. Now a routine traffic stop has ended with her accidentally punching an officer . . . in a delicate place. Then Chrissy realizes that the hot cop on the receiving end of her right hook is none other than the man from her teenage fantasies.
Jack Daniels knows how to take a hit. After all, when he’s not chasing reckless drivers, he’s kicking ass in a mixed martial arts ring. So what takes his breath away isn’t the low blow, but the woman who dealt it: a gorgeous knockout with legs Jack wouldn’t mind being pinned under—who just so happens to be his best friend’s nerdy little sister, all grown up. Soon their instant chemistry leads to a sizzling affair, but Jack and Chrissy are fighting an uphill battle if they want to make love last beyond the final bell.

When I requested this book for review I was on an MMA fighter kick. I was expecting something that focused on the MMA world. This book doesn’t. Not really. The fights were secondary and shown only on the periphery of the story. The main focus is the heroine’s struggle with the violence of fighting and her strained relationships with her brother, Slade, and his best friend, Jack.

The book was problematic for me on several levels. As mentioned above, the MMA scene was peripheral. I wanted more focus there and didn’t get it. Actually, pretty much everything outside the relationships was peripheral. While this may be a personal preference, I like to see that the characters have lives outside each other. Jack was a cop and seemed to take that seriously, but the MMA stuff was glossed over, and so was Chrissy’s career as a traveling doctor. She visited some of the worst places in the world, treating those who wouldn’t have gotten treatment otherwise, and it was just shrugged aside. 

The characters also felt very immature. For a world-weary doctor and a hardened cop and MMA fighter, both Jack and Chrissy acted like children – bickering, fighting and running away. And don’t get me started on Slade…he acted more like a teenage boy than an actual adult. 

Because I wasn’t invested in the characters or their story, I started to focus on little things I may have overlooked otherwise. For example, Chrissy giggles. A lot. I counted 24 times throughout the course of the novel. Since giggling is something that bothers me anyway, by the end of the book I was ready to bang my head against the wall. When a grown woman giggles incessantly, it’s a sign of immaturity for me. In this case I was reminded of a teenage girl trying to impresses her older brother’s best friend. Which isn’t that far off, except that Chrissy is supposed to be closer to 30 than 15. 

While I really wanted to like this book, I didn’t connect with the characters or the setting. I’m curious about Slade (Chrissy’s brother) and Jessica, so I may try the next book. I haven’t decided yet. 

2.5 out of 5

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Excerpt: No Limits by Lori Foster

Posted September 23, 2014 by Holly in Promotions | 0 Comments

No LimitsCheck out an excerpt of No Limits by Lori Foster, available now from HQN.

A surprise inheritance reunites a mixed martial arts fighter with the woman he’s never forgotten in the first in a smoldering new series from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster… 

Cannon Colter is quintessential hero material: chiseled jawline, shredded body—the works. He’s also the guy who rescued Yvette Sweeny from kidnappers, only to put an end to her romantic dreams. These days, she’s older, smarter, determined to face whatever life throws her way. Even the prospect of sharing a house and business with Cannon. 

Cannon knew Yvette wanted him three years ago. But she was young—and some things are worth waiting for. Thrown together by her grandfather’s legacy, he realizes how deep Yvette’s scars really go, and how much danger lurks in their quiet town. As pent-up desire explodes between them, protecting her becomes the only fight that matters. And he’ll break all the rules to do it…

Read the excerpt:

Cannon couldn’t stop looking at her. Damn, he’d remembered her as pretty, but she’d matured into killer good looks—and didn’t seem to know it. An angel’s face paired with that trim but curvy figure, and yeah, he was pretty sure every guy in the place had already started fantasizing.

Too bad, because none of them would touch her.

If he’d had any doubts about wanting her, they were put to rest in a big way. Instead of three years, it felt like a decade he’d been waiting on her. Yes, he wanted her. He would have her, too.

The only question was how soon.

A few weeks ago she’d lost her grandfather, and she probably needed time to acclimate to being home around the unpleasant memories. He’d love to segue right from hello to hell yeah, but he also enjoyed just looking at her and talking with her.

Sipping her Coke, Yvette stole a peek at him. Feathery lashes framed those big green eyes he remembered so well—eyes that used to watch him with innocent infatuation, but now seemed wary. She sat straight, proper. Spoke carefully. Avoided his direct gaze.

As Tipton had said, she was guarded.

She wore makeup, but not a lot. Even in a ponytail, her long dark hair made him think of it spilled loose on his pillows, or gliding over his chest.

Or his thighs.

And her clothes, while casual, covered such a sweet body it left him visually undressing her.

Knowing he had to get a grip, he asked, “Are you hungry?”

She shook her head. “But please go ahead and eat if you want.”

“I’m good.” Arms folded on the top of the booth, he smiled. “I can’t get over how much you’ve changed.”

That pleased her, he could tell. “It’s been almost three and a half years.”

Long enough for her to put the past behind her? To put him behind her? No, he wouldn’t let her. “I’m so damn sorry about Tipton.”

“Thank you.” She set the drink aside, then nervously drew her finger through the damp ring the glass had left on the booth top. “I wanted to talk to you about that. About—”

“Hey, Saint.” Two guys sidled up to the table. “Can we get a pic?”

Cannon forced his gaze away from Yvette. “Sure.” He would never alienate a fan, but damn, the timing could be better. Yvette had been screwing up her courage to say something. Now he had to wonder what.

Stepping out of the booth, he bent a little to put himself more in line with the shorter guys, and with a double thumbs-up, smiled as a plump lady used her cell phone to snap a few photos.

That only seemed to unleash other fans, and before he knew it, he was posing with men and women alike. Some wanted to hug him, some wanted him in a fighter’s stance, a few just wanted him to mug for the camera. Before he could get a handle on things, he’d taken around twenty photos and signed more than a dozen autographs.

Yvette watched it all with a look of fascinated indulgence. When there seemed to be a lull, he reseated himself. “Sorry about that.”

“You’re popular, I understand.” Her long glossy ponytail spilled over her shoulder when she tipped her head to study him. “I watch the fights.”

That pleased him more than it should have. “Yeah? What do you think?”

“You’re pretty amazing.”

He held back his grin. “I do my best.”

That earned a short laugh. “Humble too.” Shaking her head, she teased, “No wonder they call you the Saint.”

He’d rarely heard her laugh before, and hearing it now did funny things to him. It was nice. Rich. Husky.

A turn-on…

This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: No Limits by Lori Foster

Posted September 23, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

No LimitsJen’s review of No Limits (Ultimate #1) by Lori Foster

Lori Foster’s new Ultimate series is essentially a spin off of her Love Undercover series. The main characters in No Limits, Cannon and Yvette, were introduced in book 4 of the last series (Dash of Peril, reviewed here). I don’t think you absolutely must read that book to understand No Limits, but it does help set up the characters and their history.

To recap that back story, Cannon was a local MMA fighter/gym owner/neighborhood defender/all around amazing guy. He helped the hero and heroine from Dash of Peril stop a group of guys kidnapping women and making snuff films. In particular, he helped rescue almost-twenty year old Yvette when the criminals captured and tortured her and her grandfather. Yvette was threatened and generally brutalized, and as you can imagine she was a bit of a wreck in that book. She was openly and intensely infatuated with Cannon, and they even shared a hot kiss, but despite his attraction to her, 23 year old Cannon felt she was too young and vulnerable to pursue. In the end, Yvette leaves to go to California and Cannon goes off to start a career as a professional fighter.

Fast forward three years. Yvette rarely returns home, and Cannon spends most of his time away fighting and training. When Yvette’s grandfather dies and leaves his home and business to both Yvette and Cannon, the two have to return home and reconnect. Cannon immediately decides he wants Yvette for real this time, but this time it’s Yvette who resists. She’s clearly damaged by her traumatic ordeal, but she works hard to put up a strong face to the world. When unsettling things start happening to her once again, Cannon has to help her face the new challenges as well as try to overcome the past.

I liked the sexy chemistry between Cannon and Yvette. They take things a bit slowly physically for reasons explained in the book, but that just gives time for the delicious tension to build. Cannon is a sexy, ripped, and confident athlete, and it’s easy to see why Yvette and every other woman in the book drool over him. He’s also a tender, kind, and caring lover, and his interactions with Yvette were really sweet.  I’m a sucker for catching up with previous characters, so it was fun to see Margaret and Dash from Dash of Peril. Margaret was still as awesome as ever! I also really enjoyed meeting Cannon’s fighter friends. We get some tantalizing peeks at his friend Armie and sister Rissy, who I presume will be starring in a book somewhere down the line. Let’s just say  it will be very interesting to see how Armie, who is portrayed as one of the manwhoriest manwhores to ever manwhore, meets his match.

I like sweet, but things did get a little too saccharine at times. Cannon’s nickname is Saint, and that is definitely accurate. He is always patient, always a good listener, always has time to help everyone. He mentors all the troubled kids in the neighborhood, protects local businesses from thugs, comes to the defense of everyone who needs it, etc. And of course, he’s one of the best MMA fighters out there and has time to do his intense training in between acts of saintliness. I also didn’t love that he is basically Yvette’s savior in every way–I can’t say much without spoiling anything, but let’s just say there is nothing at all Cannon can’t do! Yvette is stunningly gorgeous but wholly unaware that anyone thinks she’s hot, which is not my favorite trope. I would have liked a little more growth and agency from her, too. At the very least, I wanted to see Cannon’s love give her confidence, but instead she doubts his feelings and herself until almost the very end.

I think if you like MMA fighters and alpha guys who are still gentlemen, No Limits (and likely the future books in this series) would probably appeal. While I would have appreciated a bit more complexity, this was still an enjoyable read.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

This book is available from Harlequin HQN. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Lori Foster Q&A

Posted September 23, 2014 by Holly in Promotions | 0 Comments

No LimitsTo celebrate her latest release, we have a short Q&A from Lori Foster to share with you.

A surprise inheritance reunites a mixed martial arts fighter with the woman he’s never forgotten in the first in a smoldering new series from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster… 

Cannon Colter is quintessential hero material: chiseled jawline, shredded body—the works. He’s also the guy who rescued Yvette Sweeny from kidnappers, only to put an end to her romantic dreams. These days, she’s older, smarter, determined to face whatever life throws her way. Even the prospect of sharing a house and business with Cannon. 

Cannon knew Yvette wanted him three years ago. But she was young—and some things are worth waiting for. Thrown together by her grandfather’s legacy, he realizes how deep Yvette’s scars really go, and how much danger lurks in their quiet town. As pent-up desire explodes between them, protecting her becomes the only fight that matters. And he’ll break all the rules to do it…

No Limits is available now from HQN.

NO LIMITS Lori Foster – Q&A



  • Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, NO LIMITS?



This is Cannon’s story, a character that readers met in my last series, Love Undercover. From the second Cannon showed up on the page, I knew he’d get his own story. He’s that kind of guy, the guy who steps up and takes notice and gets a lot of notice in return.

In NO LIMITS, Cannon reunites with Yvette, another character from the previous series. They parted under strained circumstances, with Cannon just heading into professional MMA and Yvette young and traumatized from a horrific threat. Cannon saved her then, but he was noble because of her age and what she’d been through. Now she’s older, more independent, and he’s ready to make up for lost time.



  • Can you also fill us in on the prequel to the series, HARD KNOCKS?



HARD KNOCKS gives readers a peek into the MMA world and the fighters who will have novels in the Ultimate series. You get to see the inside of Cannon’s gym, the set-up and what the guys do for the neighborhood, as well as the close relationships they share. It’s a short romance featuring Gage and Harper, two fun, strong people with a few romantic quirks to work out. It’s short and sexy and gives readers a taste for how the novels will be more about fighters in a romance than about fighters fighting in the cage.



  • How has your UFC obsession influenced the writing of NO LIMITS?



Well, I’ve gotten into the idea of picking silly fight names for the heroes. And from the fight names, I’ve come up with some “inspired” reasons for them. It also makes it easier to justify the guy being totally ripped – although not all fighters are. I’ve learned in actual fights the physical appearance can be deceiving. It’s more about heart and talent, training and speed, than how a guy looks. But naturally any hero I write about will be blessed with a six-pack and boulder shoulders.



  • What was it like getting inside the mind of a mixed martial arts fighter?



I’ve interviewed a few fighters over the years, chatted with others while getting promotional photos and during before and after “meet and greets” while at live events. Every single fighter I’ve met has been extremely nice, unassuming, dedicated to fans, and (though it sounds silly) very sweet. It took only a few questions to see how much they give to the sport they love, the discipline it takes to stay in training, and the confidence they gain from having extreme ability. Since I’ve never asked a fighter about his love life, that part of the story is pure imagination on my part. But then I only write good guys, and talented lovers.


  • What is your process for choosing names like Cannon Colter?



I’m a terrible cheat when it comes to names. More often than not I see a name on Facebook or Twitter that I like. I never, ever use a first and last name together, but I do pick and choose and mix and match. When I see a unique name, or a name that resonates with me, I grab it up. When I’m writing, I’m far less focused on names than I am on personality. Names for me are an afterthought, so stealing from my social media sites makes it easy.



  • What are Cannon and Yvette’s best physical traits?



Although Cannon is a fighter with a shredded bod, it’s more his smile and his eyes that get to Yvette. He has a very sincere smile, because he’s a very sincere guy. And when he looks at a person, it’s felt through and through.


For Yvette, she has long beautiful hair, but it’s more about the deceptive confidence she tries to exude that draws Cannon – that, and the way she looks at him like he’s a superhero. What guy could resist that?



  • What is the best scene (in your opinion) between Yvette and Cannon?



There’s a fun scene where Yvette is at the rec center (the gym) and the fighters start arguing. Cannon is irked, his buddies are irked, and Yvette thinks they might come to blows. She tries to put herself in the middle and sort of gets sandwiched between some pretty hot flesh. I smiled while writing it, so I hope readers smile when they read it.

The poor guys didn’t know what to think. They’re big, physical guys who don’t mind working out a few differences on the mat, but they’re also friends, and they’re fighters with a load of control often utilized in a fight. But with Yvette, they all want to be gentle – while struggling to figure her out.



  • What music did you listen to while writing NO LIMITS?



I have a long playlist of about 150 songs. Much of it is from KORN and Kid Rock and Marilyn Manson, but I’ve also really gotten into Disturbed, The Pretty Reckless, Papa Roach, Skillet and Puddle of Mud. Oh, and Cage the Elephant. I like loud, strong music that I can sing along with while I’m writing.



  • How is this series different from your previous works?



The Ultimate series is a different setting, different characters, different plots – and yet you still visit some of the characters from Love Undercover series since it remains in the same fictional city and state. In the last series the focus was on Rowdy’s bar and the police station. There are visits to the bar still, but much of the action takes place at Cannon’s rec center and in different houses owned by the characters.

The stories remain super-sexy, the guys remain alphas, the women remain smart and independent, and elements of suspense go throughout both series. But I hope each character has their own personality and for me, that’s where the differences should be most evident.



  • What character did you find yourself most drawn to, and why?



I love Armie Jacobson – and I’m pretty sure readers will too. He’s outrageous, too sexy, has effortless talent in the cage, and a wounded background that has influenced his life greatly. I love all the guys – Gage, Cannon, Denver, Stack… but Armie stands out.



  • Do you prefer writing about small town romance settings (like in NO LIMITS) or city settings?



I’m not sure I’ve ever written a large city setting. Smaller towns, always fictional, work best for me because I like the lack of anonymity in a small town. Everyone knows everyone, or has at least heard of everyone, and it can lead to some touching, and embarrassing, situations. I like the warmth of knowing your neighbors and caring about them. And I like the ease in creating the town.



  • Who would play Cannon and Yvette in a book-to-film adaptation?



Josh Duhamel, while a little too old, would make a fabulous Cannon! He’s big and gorgeous and built. I think he’d be perfect if NO LIMITS was ever made into a movie. For the heroine, Mila Kunis is beautiful and I can easily picture her as Yvette. They’d make a hot couple!



  • What are your five favorite verbs to use during a love scene?



Favorite verbs to use in a love scene… Only five, huh? Wow, that’s difficult. How about catch/caught, press, contract, nuzzle/nibble, lick/suck. I’m not sure I could write a full love scene without them.


  • Can you tell us about the process behind the cover artwork?



Ooooh, I LOVE getting new covers, it’s so exciting. The way it works is that I give my editor an idea of what the characters look like. Usually this means emailing her my own character sheets – notes I keep on the characters to detail (and help me remember) height, eye and hair color, body type, etc… I usually include any and all info like the car he/she drives, job description, age and any other pertinent information that I might need to recall from book to book.


My editor also asks for a synopsis, but since they usually start working on covers long before I know what the story is about, it’s a guessing game on my end. I know there’ll be a hunk, a heroine, some suspense, hot sex, lots of emotion, and a happy ending. The how and why is often not clear to me at that point.


Then the publisher has a meeting with the art department and they brainstorm cover ideas and come up with a concept that I get to see.


The concept is just an idea. It’ll show a model, but not THE model. It’ll show a pose, but not THE pose. I see where the placement of my name and the title will appear, along with any quotes.


Once that’s approved, the art department does a photo shoot and from those images they choose the one they like best. I weigh in with pleas of chest hair. Chest hair is always my #1 requirement if they show the model with his shirt off. To be clear, this is for new novels, not novellas or re-issues. For those they generally use stock art. It’s all very fun and I can honestly say I’ve loved the artwork so far.



  • If you were stranded on a desert island with one of your many characters, who would you choose and why?



Since I’m an enormous wimp and not at all heroic, I’d love to have Trace with me, from Trace of Fever. He’s bossy and take-charge and lethal. He knows what he’s doing, how to protect and how to survive. Plus I think he was pretty sexy.

If it needs to be a character from my current Ultimate series, I’d say Denver – for many of the same reasons. He’s far more autocratic than Cannon or Armie or Stack. He’s big, brawny, and when necessary he can be lethal. I’d feel safer with a real bad ass if I had to be stranded.



  • What was the most difficult part of the process when writing NO LIMITS?



My heart broke for Yvette. She’s one of more damaged heroines I’ve ever written (although there have been a few) and she struggled so hard for her independence. More than anything she wants Cannon, but because he’s so brave and strong she doesn’t feel quite worthy, and the stigma of being seen as a victim really hit her hard. I image something like that would be very, very difficult to overcome.



  • Have you written an outline for the NO LIMITS series or do you make it up as you go?



I totally make it up as I go along. Or I should say my characters make it up. I never try to figure things out in advance because as sure as I do, the characters will have a different idea and they’ll rebel, making it difficult to write until I give them their way. Fighting it is futile. But since they’re seldom wrong, it works for us. (And yes, I’m nuts. I don’t fight that either.)


Usually the characters will give me enough clues along the way to keep the writing flow steady. For instance, while I was writing NO LIMITS, Denver stepped up and talked about Cherry and made it clear his book needed to be next. Now while I’m writing HARD KNOCKS (Denver’s story) Stack is giving me nudges, saying, “Me next, me next. And I’m going after Vanity… whether she or I know it yet or not.” So that’s how I know Stack’s story will be after Denver’s.


Armie has said he wants to wait, stew on things a while, come to grips with his future… so I’m letting him get used to the idea of what is to come.



  • What was your go-to snack while writing NO LIMITS?



Goldfish cheese crackers and pretzels. Occasionally I drink Mountain Dew when I need more caffeine but I usually snack with Lipton Citrus Green Tea as my drink.

I also love baby carrots. And far too often I cave to the call of the Pringles can.



  • What’s your favorite part of the book?



There’s a fight scene in the book. Not a sporting match, but an angry, defensive, you-dared-touch-what-is-mine kind of aggression filled with rage and loss of control and an awakening of strong emotion. Call me barbaric but I love writing scenes like that. I love getting down to the basics of how love can affect a person, whether it’s in sex or fighting off danger or just showing vulnerability awareness. It’s the real stuff people are made of.


  • What are you working on next?



I’m writing Denver’s story right now, titled HOLDING STRONG. It’s due out in spring 2015 and I’m loving Denver and Cherry together – and them as a couple with the rest of the fighters around. It’s a very fun dynamic.


After that I’ll do another benefit novella for June 2015. It’ll be part of the Buckhorn family and all proceeds from sales of the book will go to a charity. I’m not yet sure which of the Buckhorn clan will be featured, but I’m sure it’ll all come to me in plenty of time.


And then I’ll jump into Stack’s story. He should be ready by then – which means I’ll also be ready. Luckily the characters keep me writing. In fact, if there were more hours in the day, I’m not sure they’d ever let me stop!

lori fosterAbout Lori: 

Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a Waldenbooks, Borders, USA TODAY, Publishers Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. She also received the Romantic Times “Career Achievement Award” for Series Romantic Fantasy and Contemporary Romance.

Lori believes it is important to give back to the community as much as possible, so she routinely arranges events among authors and readers to gather donations for various organizations.

This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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