Full Contact (Redemption book 3)

Full Contact is the third novel in the Redemption series, featuring MMA fighters and their lady loves.

full-contact

Blurb:

When you can’t resist the one person who could destroy you…

Sia O’Donnell can’t help but push the limits. She secretly attends every underground MMA fight featuring The Predator, the undisputed champion. When he stalks his prey in the ring, Sia is mesmerized. He is dominant and dangerous and every instinct tells her to run.

Every beautiful thing Ray “The Predator” touches he knows he’ll eventually destroy. Soft, sweet and innocent, Sia is the light to Ray’s darkness-and completely irresistible. From the moment he lays eyes on her, he knows he’s going to have to put his dark past behind him to win her body and soul.

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I was really surprised that this novel was about Sia and Ray for some reason. Usually the main secondary characters in the previous books are leading into those characters’ HEA, so I was expecting Rampage to be the lead. I also suspected Penny and Ray could end up together but I like this match-up better.

I’m still surprised though, that Sia and Ray had their story told so early. Although the reader knows Ray (or at least thinks they do), Sia is almost completely unknown and Ray had yet to start training at Redemption in the first two novels. The story is written entirely from Sia’s POV, so it felt like I was starting a new series in some ways, even though Ray had been previously introduced.

Regardless …

Sia is overcoming a lot of turmoil in her past and has plenty of triggers that need to be worked through. I love the strong female characters in this series. We started with a female paramedic, then a lawyer, and now a tattoo artist. Each of the girls also start training MMA to one degree or another, as their interests are sparked by the man they are dating. None of these ladies wants to be a victim or a push-over, and I admire that resilience and determination each employs in facing life’s challenges.

Ray (minor spoiler but not really) is secretly a CIA agent. Explains where he got those master P.I. skills! I wish that he had been further explored throughout the story. I felt like Castille was building him up through the previous novel just to drop him and explain the relationship through Sia’s POV only. Not cool. It would have been awesome to explore his shadowy career a little more closely, and figure out how he manages to be a domestically-operating CIA agent while working as a corporate P.I. in a law firm and still fight in the underground circuit. Talk about a busy man!

Sia blossoms as an independent thinking throughout the story. She grows and learns to believe in herself and take chances safely. I also wish we could have seen more of her and Ray’s struggles to overcome her triggers during intimacy and Ray’s issues with this. I do feel like the dialogue is lacking a little in this series. The characters seem to argue over the same things repeatedly and then it just works out, without showing the steps and compromises it took to get there.

Hopefully this is something that will be rectified in the fourth book. It is the HEA of Rampage and Penny and I dearly hope it will be told from both of their perspective’s. According to the author’s facebook page this week, it will be due out in April 2017 and the title is listed as Fighting Attraction. Apparently Rampage is quite the scary Dom in his personal life. I will be ecstatic if it is finally the book to ramp up the edginess!

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In Your Corner (Redemption book )

This is the second book in the Redemption series by Sarah Castille. If you want to read about the first book, click here.

in-your-corner

Blurb:

He rules in the ring

Two years ago, Jake and Amanda were going hot and heavy. But when Jake wanted more, Amanda walked away. Jake immersed himself in mixed martial arts, living life on the edge. But that didn’t dull the pain of Amanda’s rejection-until a chance encounter throws them together.

A high-powered lawyer, Amanda was a no-strings-attached kind of girl. But two years after her breakup with Jake, she still hasn’t found anyone who gets her heart pumping the way he did. And then he shows up in her boardroom, hot as sin and needing help…

But can he rule her heart?

Jake is darker, sexier, and impossible to resist. As their chemistry builds, Amanda’s not sure if she can stay in control, or if she’s finally willing to let him claim her body and soul.

—                    —                    —

I read the first book in the Redemption series last week and it has quickly turned into a must-read series! I love the gritty-ness of the story and even though the dominance is a little tamer than I am used to, it is still present and HOT.

This one left me satisfied … and with a book hangover considering I was up until 4am to finish it !

In Your Corner features Amanda and Jake, who were recurring characters in the first novel. Because much of their back story as a couple is referenced in Against the Ropes, I would strongly suggest you read these books in order.

One of the main differences between the novels, is that most of the first book takes place in the underground MMA club Redemption, and in comparison, very little of the story is there in this title. Another difference is that Redemption is now a legitimate MMA training facility, sanctioned by the CSAC, and there are female fighters training there, with organized fitness/martial arts classes for both men and women.

Castille writes entirely from the heroine’s perspective in this series, seemingly uncommon of late, which helps the reader to develop a deep understanding of her female character, but Jake remains a bit of an enigma. I wish that we could have had more of the book devoted to him. Usually when a book is read, I feel as if I know the characters as friends, but Jake would be an acquaintance at best.

The heroine, Amanda, is a lawyer and you get to know her much more thoroughly. The author herself was a lawyer in her previous career so I found this to be a very interesting perspective and – at least to me – there were no glaringly obvious mistakes in the legal arena. The level of detail helped to create the character’s world and bring it to life because it was well-written and believable. I also loved that Amanda had a noticeably – but not obnoxiously – higher vocabulary than any other character in the series, which makes sense ‘cause hello! Lawyer! This was one of those little things that stuck with me and shows that the author is improving as a writer and cared enough to make sure that Amanda was distinct from the other characters in the series.

In Your Corner introduces a whole new cast of supporting characters to draw from. Amanda quickly opens her own legal firm after unpleasantness at her previous company, and her main P.I. and assistant follow her. Because everything is written from Amanda’s perspective, you get to know these new characters very well.

I would like to see the author expand on the emotional intricacies of a D/s relationship in later novels. Although the dynamic is present in this couple, as well as between Torment and Makayla in book 1, it hasn’t really been explored to my satisfaction. I think this would be a great next avenue for her to explore.

Speaking of, if you are looking for lots of updates on Torment and Mak, you will be disappointed. Although present in key parts, for much of the story they are off-page. Amanda and Jake are the stars now!

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Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille

*This is the first novel in the Redemption series

against-the-ropes

Blurb:

He scared me. He thrilled me. And after one touch, all I could think about was getting more…

Makayla never thought she’d set foot in an underground mixed-martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it’s these guys. Trouble is, at her first sight of the club’s owner she’s the one feeling breathless.

All sleek muscle and restrained power, the man they call Torment plays to win at any cost. Whether it’s in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when to use a soft touch and when to launch a full-on assault. He always knows just how far he can push. And he’s about to tempt Makayla in ways she never imagined…

—                  —                      —

Against the Ropes is a MMA themed romance novel. The hero, Max “Torment” Huntington is a wealthy businessman by day and the owner of an underground MMA club by night. He is also the undisputed king of the octagon in the place, and is surrounded by a plethora of characters. Although, that makes sense considering the types of people who would choose to train and compete on the illegal circuit, rather than the legitimate one.

His heroine Makayla is terrified of violence due to a traumatic incident in her past, and as such, is barely paying her bills working in a dead-end hospital administration position even though she has a degree as a paramedic. Until her BFF talks her into working ticket sales at an underground fight club and she gets drawn inside, chasing a gate-crasher.

This novel approaches the bdsm scene but wouldn’t actually be considered erotica  – at least by my standards. Torment has dominant tendencies, something Makayla hasn’t experienced before in a relationship, but the sex is pretty tame compared to my usual reading. They don’t get into anything too kinky together.

Castille did a great job of introducing a supporting cast of characters who she will (presumably) be writing about in future books, as this is apparently the first in a series. Rampage, Jake, Amanda and the good doctor all jumped off the page. The story flowed well and proceeded at a good pace and I finished it in one sitting.

My main issue with this novel, and why I intend to downgrade my rating, is the author’s apparent lack of research into MMA. I may not be an expert but mixed martial arts is my favourite sport so it is a huge pet peeve when authors don’t do their research. Castille kept referring to “ropes” in the octagon as if it were a boxing ring. Octagons don’t have ropes and the “corners” have very open angles it is easy to maneuver out of them, compared to the 90 degree corners of a boxing “ring”. Small details like this take very little time to research and I would have enjoyed the story so much more without glaringly obvious mistakes.

I do intend to read the second in the series. Hopefully the terminology will be cleaned up!

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