Against the Ropes

Against the Ropes - Sarah Castille 2.5 Stars

Against the Ropes is a case of the inside (story) not living up to the outside (cover). Sexy half nekkid man with gloves, which usually equals sexy MMA alpha male hero to swoon over. Am I right? And I liked the premise of an underground MMA club in need of an medic. Unfortunately the story did not deliver.

I was looking forward to the hero, Torment/Max, the most in this story. The hard, determined MMA fighter who was soft on the inside. He turned out to be alpha, but cave-man alpha which is not sexy. Very stoic and one dimensional. I was disappointed. There was so much potential there that was just not met. A millionaire play boy who runs an illegal fight club at night and over the weekends, he uses fighting as an outlet for his inner aggression as well as his anger and guilt over his upbringing. His fighting does not cross over to his professional life though oddly as the story progresses we find out that some characters know him from both. I'm guessing they keep the secret to themselves though in some situations I tended to doubt it. I did enjoy the comradely in the fight club though. One look at Makayla and Max has to have her, and he engineers scenarios to meet with her. Some were sweet, others overbearing.

The author struggled with the heroine's characterization as well. It seemed that she was striving for a strong, independent heroine but in actuality Makayla came across a flighty, naive push-over lacking common sense. Though she did show some mild growth and stood up for herself every now and then, it wasn't substantial enough for me to buy into it. And the poor girl, if it could happen it did happen to her! Makayla lives in the hallway of a house, with several housemates, working the front desk at a hospital trying to pay off student loans. She went to school and graduated from the medical field but for the last few years has been debating whether she wants to continue on to become a doctor or not. She is roped into selling tickets at an MMA fight with her best friend, a promiscuous young lawyer, for extra money and this is where she meets Torment. Even though violence makes her physically sick, when a bill collector starts to harass her she accepts a job to be the clubs medic. I found a lot of the situations that the heroine found herself to be in unrealistic though; such as the student loan collector and some of the underground fight scenes.

Besides the characterization, I think the author tried to cram too many tropes into one book. MMA, millionaire, BDSM, tortured, kinky, sweet & innocent. There were so many clich├ęs I wanted to bang my head against the wall at times. The dialogue also tended to bounce from one thing to the next without any cause or distinction.

Though Against the Ropes wasn't all bad; the pacing was steady, I did keep reading, it was a fast read, some parts were cute and funny (text messages)- it did not meet my expectations.