Title: In the Ring
Author: Rie Warren
My Rating: A
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Boxer #1
Main Characters: Liam and Michael
Release Date: December 2016
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
Liam got the pussy pounded out of him on the mean streets of Cin-city—the other Sin City. The oldest in a Catholic clan where his da never pulled any punches, he went from geek boy to the golden boy of the boxing world care of his fists. Liam’s on the fast track to having it all . . . all except the one man he wants.
Michael Fairweather makes pretending to be hetero goddamn difficult for Liam. The man is blond and beautiful and just so happens to be Liam’s trainer. With a penchant for doing shirtless yoga, giving midnight massages to loosen Liam’s muscles, and sometimes even taking it out in the ring with him. To say Liam has porn-style fantasies about Michael is an understatement.
Michael’s out and proud. Liam’s only proud of what he can do in the ring. He can’t risk his career, least of all for someone unavailable. Michael has a lover. Liam has the lies he lives every day. And when his money-grubbing manager gets involved as the title win approaches, Liam doesn’t know what hit him.
Fight to win. Fight with honor. It won’t be easy, but that’s okay. Nothing worth fighting for ever is.
In an effort of full disclosure...I love Rie Warren's writing and was offered this book for review, but I turned it down, because I am not a big fan of boxing-themed romances. But then I saw that the author had it priced for $.99 and I grabbed it just because I really do like her male/male romances. I figured for a dollar, I wasn't out much if it didn't capture my attention. In fact, I was so sure I wasn't going to enjoy it, I started it one night...late...planning to only read a chapter or two just to get a feel for whether I'd like it or not. A few hours later, I'd read the whole book. *sigh* Yep, this is one of those books. I don't care that it was about a boxer...omg, the story was excellent!!
This book is told entirely from Liam's point of view. Liam has had to hide his true self his entire life. A gay boxer just isn't something that he can be, but having the hands of his trainer, Michael, on him after so many years and wanting and abstinence is wearing on him. Between that and the growing pressure that's building up to the Heavyweight Championship, something has to give. But he can't be gay...AND Michael has a serious boyfriend. My heart hurt for Liam.
Okay, flat-out...this book is TOTALLY worth losing sleep over. I loved it so very much. It was a great story with a fantastic slow-burn happening between the two MC's. Liam is stuck. He's a fighter. He's worked his way up the hard way and is doing everything he can to do better for himself and his family. From his point of view, he has no choices here...not if he wants to keep his career. The alternative is to go back and live in the slums of Cincinnati. He won't do that.
Also...I'm not a boxing fan, but even those parts worked for me. I loved watching Liam train and Michael helping him to get into top form. Boxing is a brutal career and the author did a great job of showing that aspect, too, without hitting those buttons in my psyche that turn me off to this trope in romance.
So...yes, I HIGHLY recommend this book. It's easily been one of my favorite reads for m/m this year...and surprisingly enough, I'm looking for more in this series. More boxers? Bring it! I can't wait.