Series: Flight or Fight #1
Published by Loveswept Source: Netgalley
Genres: Alpha Guy, Best Friends, Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Military, New Adult, Romance, Second Chances
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In the debut of Ashley Suzanne’s blistering-hot Fight or Flight series—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn—two sparring partners put their hearts on the line and push their bodies to the edge.
Rian Fields is done being a punching bag. When Rian was thirteen, her only friend walked out on her, leaving Rian alone to mourn when she lost her mother three years later. Then he came back into her life senior year, igniting new desires—and breaking her trust permanently when he enlisted in the army. Now Rian has finally found an outlet for her rage against the world: mixed martial arts. But just as she’s learning the ropes, Garrett Rhodes turns her life inside-out one more time.
As much they hurt each other, Garrett never got over Rian. So when he gets the call that she’s in jail, he bails her out, no questions asked. The years have toughened her. Made her harder. Sexier. All she needs to make it as an MMA fighter is the right coach, and Garrett’s man enough to train her. He just has to go toe-to-toe with “Raven,” the fearless woman who takes control in the ring . . . without falling for Rian, the vulnerable girl who still drives him crazy.
I don’t think this book was exactly what I was expecting, I don’t know why but when I went into this book thinking that it was going to be primarily about a hard MMA guy, I think maybe I read to many fighter synopsis books, because I was so beyond wrong. This book was actually much more of a new adult romance with a lot of drama and heartache thrown in.
This book is so much more about Rian then about Garrett, and I actually kind of liked that, we don’t really start getting Garrett’s perspective until pretty far into the book. So Rian seemed to have a pretty good childhood, her mom was very much the hippie when she was growing up, and Rian has a lot of found memories of her and her mother when she was little. But of course, it’s not happy forever, Rian’s mom got remarried to a total loser, and the first time her mom gets hit in front of her, Rian totally kicked her stepdad’s butt. The whole situation is horrible, and then her mother dies (not going to explain how), and she has to move in with her aunt. Her aunt is a super good person, but has no kids, and has to work a lot to support them. By the time the book is done, Rian has lost so much, and my heart breaks for her every time. It seemed like every time she was able to get her feet back underneath her and feeling better about her life outlook, something else totally heartbreaking happens. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, and it’s totally understand the way she reacts to situations. I liked her. She’s a strong girl, and a strong woman as time goes on. I normally have something about every character that I don’t like, but with Rian, I felt for her so much that there was nothing I really didn’t like about her.
So Garrett is Rian’s childhood best friend, and he’s awesome to her, like protect her from bullies awesome. He moved away and doesn’t come back into Rian’s life until after her mother dies, but it’s like the two of them pick up right where they left off. You can tell they really care about each other, that they really love each other. Only Garrett comes from a military family, and so on his 18 birthday he enlisted, which for Rian is pretty much like another person leaving her. My husband was in the army for almost a decade so I could totally relate to the situation and feelings that go along with needing your person and having to wait for the one day a week they can make a phone call or it taking two weeks to get a question answered because you are talking through letters (I literally still have the biggest bag of every letter I sent and received while he was in bootcamp). Things with Garrett don’t go perfectly, to say the least, and I have to say I felt for both of them. Garrett is just a good guy, and he treats Rian so well, just life’s situations just really mess things up for these two.
All in all, this book had good pacing and was a quick read for me. There were some serious hot and heavy scenes between these two, and they had fantastic chemistry. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you are looking for happy fun time romance, this romance is heartbreaking and sad, but also has some awesome moments of hope. If you like complex romances that seriously pull at the heartstrings, this might be the book for you.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you’re gonna wanna get in our next contender’s pants. . . . Show some love for our hometown legend, the Switch Hitter!” I snort at the name, expecting to walk out and see a fighter carrying a baseball bat. What do ya know? No bat in sight. Extra reinforcements might not have been a bad idea since I’m on fire and ready to bust the bricks off this clown.
Waiting for the emcee to call my name, I think of all the crazy things in my life that have led me to this point. I’ve experienced more than any one person should by the age of twenty-one—few happy moments surrounded by almost constant anguish. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
“Being escorted to the cage by the most badass entourage I’ve seen tonight, all the way from Corbin, Kentucky . . . the newest fighter this side of the Mississippi . . . the Raven!” At least name makes sense. Ravens are known for being alone, having no problem flying solo. That’s what I’ve done for the past four years anyway.
After my announcement, the crowd erupts into cheers that I can hear loud and clear, even over the song streaming out of my earbuds. Bouncing back and forth on the balls of my feet, I crane my neck side to side, examining the mass of people. It’s a good-sized crowd for this venue. I sometimes wonder if these guys come to watch the fights for the love of the sport or because they like to see the ring girls walking around, barely dressed, carrying signs indicating the round. Oh well, they paid their cover, and that money, if all goes according to plan, will be in my pocket later tonight.
With my coaches leading the way, I follow, bobbing my head to “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed, mentally preparing myself. I run over everything I’ve been taught over the last year—how to get out of a submission hold, finding opportunities to take my opponent down, remembering not to be a cocky asshole.
It took a lot of convincing for Zan to let me fight tonight. He’s not the kind father figure he portrays himself to be. He says he loves and supports his “children,” but deep down he’d rather I not get in that cage. I know damn well if I blow my first match, it’s going to be a long time, if ever, until he puts me on another card.
“You ready for this?” Zan asks, pulling out one of my earbuds.
Smirking, I eye up my competition that’s already inside the cage—a small, tiny thing that doesn’t look to have much muscle mass. Standing on the opposite side of the mat surrounded by coaches, glancing in my direction, the slightest tinge of fear flashes across those brown eyes, similar to mine. Physically, I’m not very intimidating—weighing in at an average weight for my class with an average stature to match—but the menace written across my face is an entirely different thing.
Since my first introduction into the world of mixed martial arts, it’s all I can think about. It may be cliché, but I live, breathe, and sleep MMA. It’s the one place I have control. Nobody can take a match from me unless I allow them to, and my opponent isn’t going to walk away with anything . . . except maybe disappointment, since I’m taking the purse. I already know I want it more; I can taste the victory and it’s going to be as sweet as I imagine it to be.
Stepping into the steel cage, I shrug my midnight blue robe off, right into the hands of my coach. Wearing standard MMA gear and my hair pulled back tight, I walk straight to the official, who checks my taped hands. Once cleared, I step back to Zan, who pops my mouth guard in for me, pats me on the shoulder, and whispers in my ear, “It’s only you two. If you want it, make it happen. If not, we can leave right now.”
“Don’t worry, Z. I wouldn’t bring you all the way here to disappoint you.”
Zan and the other coaches walk out of the cage and the door slams shut, leaving only me, my opponent, and the official inside. I meet them in the middle, and the ref goes over the standard rules for the fight. My opponent and I nod and bump fists, and the bell dings, indicating round one is under way.
Pacing myself and testing Switch Hitter’s skills, I toss a few jabs in the direction of my opponent, gauging for reaction, if any. Without even flinching, my advances are shut down and every punch is dodged while some are tossed in my direction as well. None land, and Switch Hitter never breaks a sweat. I may have to reevaluate my plan. Weight class isn’t everything in the MMA world. Sometimes the smallest contender can be the biggest fighter. This isn’t going to be as clean as I thought.
It doesn’t take long before Switch Hitter makes a dive for my lower half and I feel hands wrapped around my legs. I try my hardest to center myself to stay on my feet, but I’ve been hit in just the right spot and gravity is an impossible opponent. I position my body to flip and mount, like I’ve been taught, but I’m not quick enough.
Before I know it, a strong forearm, stronger than I assumed, is wrapping around my neck, pulling back to cut off my air supply. Taking a few deep breaths, I try to calm my overheated, exhausted body and find a way to maneuver out of this situation. From the corner of my eye, I see Zan signaling me to tap. If I’m going to go down, the officials are gonna have to call a medic in here—quitting an option. Dangerous or not, it’s how I’ve been taught.
The phrase that’s been drilled into me for months dances around in my head.
Well, I’m consumed and I’m not giving up. I’ll figure a way out. I always have, I always will.
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