Strong Hold (Redemption #5)

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Fight promoter Zack Grayson is on the prowl for a rising star. As the top recruiter of a prestigious MMA promotion company, he wants to take someone where he was never able to go: the top of the professional league. He didn’t expect that someone to be the woman he loved…and left.

Top-ranked MMA amateur fighter Shayla “Shilla the Killa” Tyler built walls around her heart when Zack left her seven years ago–and again when her husband turned violent. Now, seeing Zack is nearly enough to send those walls crumbling. But she can’t risk the exposure of the limelight, and she definitely can’t risk another heartbreak.

As Shayla and Zack grow closer, though, business turns personal. And once their passion unleashes, there’s no going back…

—                         —                         —

This book had a somewhat different perspective than the others in the series because the heroine is a fighter. The hero is as well, but the previous female leads did not start off in the cage. Beyond that point, the books follow the same general format that all the rest of them have.

I read this book in two sittings although it did not have the same draw as the first in the series did.

There is less cage-fighting in this book than in the past, as least so far as I recall, with more of the story focused on the emotional connection between Shayla and Zack.

Strong Hold is a second chance romance and will likely be followed by the sixth book in the Redemption series in a year or so.

Although there is nothing that I can point to and say this is why I didn’t like the book, it just didn’t draw me in or stick with me. Not one I would read again or that I find memorable.

xx

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Fighting Attraction (Redemption #4)

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My sweet, sexy Penny has a dark side. Just like me.
I will have her. And then I will lose her, and suffer a lifetime of regret.

Rampage. Everyone loves him. He is Redemption’s top heavyweight fighter and the biggest gossip in the gym. But he isn’t the teddy bear everyone thinks he is. He’s hiding a dark secret-and he hates himself for it.

Twice a week, Rampage transforms into Master Jack, a notorious dom only the most hard-core submissives will play with. How can he-a Southern gentleman, bred to respect and protect women-want to dominate them?

But Penny Worthington wants him. Beneath her pearls, kitten heels, and prim British exterior beats a tortured heart…Master Jack is the only one who can set her free.

—                         —                         —

Fighting Attraction is the fourth book in the series Redemption, which features alpha heroes who train mixed martial arts at a fight club called (you guessed it) Redemption. This instalment is about club favourite Rampage, who has a secret life as a prominent Dom/sadist at the local private kink club. When friend Penny accidentally stumbles upon his secret, something in her is piqued at a healthier way to mix pain and sex than the abusive relationships and self-harm she hides in her past.

In many ways I felt that Fighting Attraction was the best written book in this series so far. Many of the interactions and conversations were more realistic to how people actually talk and I could appreciate the way that Penny and Rampage tried to overcome some pretty big differences to work things out.

However, I felt like the author got some ideas in her head about how to write Rampage as the hero for this book, ideas that were inconsistent with her past descriptions of him. Here, Rampage is both an up and coming professional athlete, a past underground champion and still maintains a secret life as a top Dom in the city of Oakland where the whole story takes place. I found it difficult to believe that he could be so well known in one life and so low-profile about his secret at the same time.

Also, Rampage is the club gossip who knows everything about everyone but somehow disappears a few nights a week to attend the kink club. You would think he would value other people’s privacy more when he has such a potentially devastating secret to hide.

He also is seemingly able to turn down his need for a sexual submission in an instant when Penny indicates that she is a masochist but not a submissive. It made it seem like that was a fun kink he played at rather than a strong part of his personality and I felt like it did the real work D/s lifestyle a disservice.

Rampage is also charmingly southern in this book. Its not overdone, but he was most definitely raised a southern gentleman, something that didn’t come across in previous books. He also apparently has access to his family’s “old money” despite being estranged from them. These inconsistencies kept popping up throughout the story, distracting me from the romance at hand.

Overall, Fighting Attraction was entertaining but I hope the author keeps improving in her writing. I noticed she has the fifth book coming out in early 2018 and will be happy to jump back into this world then.

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xx

 

Full Contact (Redemption book 3)

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

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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.

—                    —                    —

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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xx