Strong Hold (Redemption #5)


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.



Fighting Attraction (Redemption #4)


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.

* * * *



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.



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!

* * * *


Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille

*This is the first novel in the Redemption series



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!

* * *



Bad Boy Baby Daddy

Wow. That’s all that comes to mind when I think about this book, and it isn’t a good thing.


Bad Boy Baby Daddy, by Avery Wilde, is terrible. Normally I don’t post a review for a book I really didn’t like, because taste is a matter of perspective, but this author didn’t do the slightest bit of research for her book. So I feel totally justified in writing this review, and saving other readers the burden of buying a piece of crap. The male protagonist, Kaiden, is supposed to be a super-hot UFC fighter at the top of his sport.

It is clear from the beginning of this book that Wilde has NO idea how the MMA scene works, or what happens in a fight. She talks about Kaiden’s opponent trying to trap him in a corner … um, UFC fighters fight in an octagon, not a square cage, so it is incredibly difficult to trap someone in a corner … the angle isn’t sharp enough.

Secondly, refs in the UFC get a hell of a lot more respect than Kaiden exhibits and they don’t have whistles. Thirdly, when someone submits, it ends the fight, not the round.

Even before the fight begins, the author has Kaiden looking around at the crowd – not looking out at the mass of people in the stands but at individual faces, where he recognizes someone he hasn’t seen in thirteen years. Ya, no honey, that doesn’t happen. And if it does, that fighter sure as shit loses from his lack of focus. Going into the cage, a fighter might notice the roar of the crowd, the energy, but he or she isn’t likely to pick out individual faces and if they do, it is someone the are looking for like a team-mate or spouse.

Unfortunately, I had to give up on the book at this point, before the characters even came together, because of all of the inaccurate details. I’m sorry, but if you are going to write a book based on a sport, at least know how said sport is conducted.

*  (yes, my first one star review)