Sunday, September 22, 2013

Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille

Synopsis: 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 elite mixed martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it's these guys. Then again, at her first sight of the club's owner, she's the one feeling breathless.
The man they call Torment is all sleek muscle and restrained power. Whether it's in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when a soft touch is required 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...

My Thoughts: After a really rough start I found that I was able to enjoy some of what this book offered despite the improbable occurrences that kept cropping up over and over and over again.

What Didn't Work: The present tense first person narrative can be quite off putting. It took quite a while for this to work for me and even then there were times that I was still pulled away from the story because some of the sentences just felt awkward. Also, there were several instances of texting between the two main characters. The formatting was a bit off as there were several times that the author of the texts were unclear because one line could contain both Torment and Makayla's texts together.

Normally I'm not one to complain about an Alpha Male hero but in this case Torment (aka Max) often came across domineering and controlling to the point of red lights and alarm bells going off in my head as I was reading them. He forbid her to do this. He ordered to not do that. He said it was for her own good, so he could protect her. In addition to Torment's extreme character flaw, Makayla wasn't all that great. She claimed to be able to "handle him" over and over. Again with the warning bells and blinking red lights! Makayla's flaws didn't stop with that, however. She had such an extreme reaction to violence (which included things like cold sweats, vomiting and almost fainting) yet she had no problem patching up the MMA fighters wounds as a result of the violence. She happily did it as a matter of fact. I think the topping on the I Hate Makayla cake had to be when she all of a sudden exhibited a seriously TSTL (too stupid to live) moment. It counteracted all her "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself." moments reducing her to a shell of a woman and one I'd never want to meet.

So, all that's really left is to mention a bill collection company named Collections R Us, who apparently allow their collection team to call debtors from their personal cell phones and scream obscenities at them, an administrator in a hospital that is allowed to date their underlings, an organ donor list that requires monetary donations to get a name to the top and one person's past filled with anguish and mafia hit-men. Really. I'm not joking.

What Worked: Despite the over the top ickiness that was Torment's caveman mentality there were quite a few tender moments which melted my frozen-I-hate-these-characters-heart just a bit. The more I read the more I really believed he loved Makayla. I am not foolish to believe that love conquers pent up rage and violence but for the sake of fantasy I did enjoy those tender moments. In addition to the tender side of this book (and Torment) I thought the sexual encounters between our two love birds were very well done (except for the first one on the motorcycle...that one was a horrible example of BDSM and a Dom working with his sub.) So, first one aside I actually enjoyed reading the encounters and liked that even though there were a lot of them, they did not over power the story.

In a Nutshell:  Keeping in mind that if you've read (and liked) one of those other super popular series involving BDSM, Dom/sub relationships, extremely rich heroes or MMA fighters this book will not overly impress you on the originality front-line but it should be likable enough to spend a few hours of your time. For me, as an independent-mature-40 year old woman, I have long since outgrown my days of weekend binge drinking and reading about them coupled with Makayla's attitude and immaturity made it hard to connect to her and ultimately the book. But hey, at least the cover was hot!
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