Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Below the Belt by Sidney Halston

Title: Below the Belt
Author: Sidney Halston
My Rating: B


Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Worth the Fight #3
Main Characters: Tony and Francesca
Release Date: February 2015
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
In Sidney Halston’s latest sizzling MMA romance, a former title contender turns the tables on his knockout trainer with a lesson in seduction.

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?

Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.
 


My Review:
Although this is the third book in the series, this is my first time reading this author. I'll admit it took me a bit to get into the story and that probably wouldn't have been the case if I'd read the other two books first. But on its own, this book works, too. It just takes a bit longer to become emotionally attached to the characters because these two aren't easy ones. 

Tony is a 35 year old MMA fighter, but he's getting to where he enjoys the party lifestyle much more than he enjoys the training and fighting that earns him that lifestyle. Tony's a flirt and doesn't take too much in this world too seriously. He likes his women, partying, and drinking. Right now, he'd really like to get under Francesca's skirt.

Francesca has invested her gym into Tony and his fights. She needs him to win for the financial security of the gym. Francesca is a force to be reckoned with and I loved that about her. She grew up in this gym her dad built and she can't fight and grapple as well as any of the MMA pros. But she doesn't show that side of herself anymore. Now all anyone sees is the hard-nosed, suit-wearing, ball-busting professional facade that she presents day in and day out. But there are a few times when Frankie's physical skills are put to the test in this book and every time she took one of the guys down, I was cheering. I loved how well she can fight too. She knows her strengths and knows how to use them effectively against these bigger, stronger guys. 

Like I said, it did take me a little bit to get into the story. Neither one of these characters are ones that I would meet and like on the street but that's because they both hide their real selves so well. As those layers and walls are torn down throughout the story, I got where I liked them more and more. Then there are little details that make the book, too...especially the cat/kittens. I loved that whole aspect of the story and how it helped to define both these characters, but especially Tony. Who couldn't love a guy who made that kind of sacrifice daily?

And the book is completely sexy. Francesca has some hang-ups which Tony flat-out does not allow. He's all alpha and pushes her past her fears which was a beautiful thing. Overall, it turned out to be a pretty good read. And note...those that have read the whole series have given it glowing reviews while those of us new to it, have liked it, but not quite as much as the series regulars. That tells me that this one would be better if read as part of the series, although it works as a stand-alone. Take that as you will...

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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