Every fighter is drawn to the violence, the release that a perfect hit can bring.
But very few are drawn to the pain.
Rex Carter lives behind a wall of indifference. The demons from his childhood act as an anesthetic, keeping him distant from emotional connections. Only the ache from a knock to the jaw, the sting of a tattoo needle, or the heat from a piercing can jolt him back from the numbness. The fiery pain is all he can feel, and nothing compares to the burn.
Or so he thought.
Working in a Las Vegas bar isn’t Georgia McIntyre’s dream. But she hopes it’ll be an end to the nightmare.
She’s watched him, followed him and kept tabs, all in preparation for this moment: to make amends and share the secret she’s been carrying since she was a kid. But she didn’t count on the feelings that seeing him again would stir up, the vacant look in his stormy-blue eyes, and his perfect body now mutilated by ink and metal.
And she knows why. She’s lived his pain every single day, since the day he left.
Changed by time, Rex doesn’t remember the girl from his past. If only she could do the same.
Will she get the absolution she’s spent her life seeking?
Or will he continue Fighting to Forget?
Complimentary copy given by the author in exchange for an honest review
It is no secret that I love books about MMA fighters – these men, physically strong, almost invincible, all show their vulnerabilities when a good woman comes into their life. We are shown that they are just like the rest of us: scared of being hurt emotionally, showing weakness and, most of all, scared of being accepted for who they really are.
Ever since meeting Rex in the first book in The Fighting Series, I feel that he has been the odd man out – the guy who we know practically nothing about, the guy who always wears a mask. It should come as no surprise, then, that I have been extremely anxious to get his story.
And what a story it is…
Rex does not remember anything from his past from the moment when he woke up in a hospital bed as a ten-year-old boy and he was told that he had tried to commit suicide. And he does not actually believe that that is what he attempted to do. However, even now, aged 25, he feels wrong, sick and twisted. He has been in therapy since he was seventeen and although he appreciates the help his counsellor, Darren, has tried to provide, he still feels that he is lost somehow. Part of this is due to his dreams – or, rather, nightmares – he has most nights.
If you have read the other books in the series, you know that apart from being a MMA fighter, Rex is the lead singer in a band called Atraxia. He plays at a specific bar every week, and, one night, he meets Mac, one of the waitresses working there. Once they start talking, he does know who she is, and he finds it strange that he has never noticed her until now.
Mac has secrets of her own, and most of them them revolve around Rex: she knew him when they were children and when her name was Gia. Should she approach him, tell him what she knows? She is fully aware of the fact that if she does, she could destroy Rex and their budding romance…she could lose him again.
This book deals with some incredibly difficult subject matters: child abuse and molestation, and although I find books dealing with these themes incredibly difficult to read, I do not shy away from them. The fact of the matter is that these horrific and tragic atrocities happen all over the world, and it does not help burying your head in the sand, pretending that they do not.
And I have to say that although I felt some bile rising in my throat on more than one occasion while reading this book, I never – not once – felt that I could not finish it. This author handles the subject with the greatest of care, and you can feel how much both Rex and Mac/Gia are hurting because of the things they were subjected to. Furthermore, you can absolutely feel how much Miss Salsbury loves these characters and how much she wants them to succeed in their lives.
Rex and his issues – being kind of OCD, showering many times throughout the day, etc. – are described in a way that is very realistic. He longs for love but due to the lack of memories about his past life, he does not believe that he can find and hold it. He is afraid of uncovering his past fully, and that part of his personality also felt real to me. Rex is sweet, caring, sensitive, and you just want to wrap your arms around him and hoild him close.
As for Gia: I admire her so much! She is incredibly strong, yet vulnerable, and also very charming and feisty. She, too, fears rejection because of her past, but she is in a better place mentally than Rex when we first meet her. I love her independence, her willingness to give Rex all that he needs and how protective she is of him as well. She is, plain and simple, the perfect partner for Rex.
One of the things I love about reading a certain book is when I get surprised. And this book has some twists and turns I did not anticipate at all. I love it! I found myself completely immersed in unraveling Rex’ past, learning everything I could about him as the story progressed. And my heart broke for Gia more than once…Yes, she is a very strong woman, but only while having a purpose: avenging Rex and herself for the hand life dealt them when they were children. Once that purpose is gone, she is left vulnerable, unsure and scared.
It would be a great disservice to you, my readers, if I reveal too much of the story line, because this, to me, truly is a book you simply have to lose yourselves in. To me, the story of Rex & Gia centers around “choices”: the choices that were taken from them when they were children, and the choices that they have to make years later when they are adults. But it is also a story about hope: hope that you can beat the odds, that you can lead a perfectly normal and happy life despite of what you were subjected to when you were young. And that, to me, is so uplifting and so life-affirming that I cannot help but smile when I think about it.
I have been a huge fan of Miss Salsbury’s ever since her first novel, and I honestly think that she becomes better and better with each story that she chooses to tell us. Her writing is honest, deeply emotional and so very real. And while the nature of the subject matters is so tragic, and slightly darker than the author’s previous books, please do not think that this is not a romance. Because it most certainly is. I was rooting for Rex and Gia to find the strength and courage to unravel their different pasts, and although my heart broke while uncovering their secrets and thoughts, I also found myself sighing happily from time to time.
I know that I have left out many details in my review, and it is quite on purpose. I want you to let go of your apprehension regarding the subject matters and take a chance if you feel unsure about reading this book. The love story of Rex & Gia is one of the most beautiful I have ever read, and I now find myself adding “Fighting To Forget” to My Favourite Books shelf where the previous two books in The Fighting Series already have a spot of their own. Miss Salsbury: thank you for your bravery, for your honesty, for your compassion…in short: thank you for giving us Rex & Gia’s story. It is very inspiring, beautiful and romantic. I truly love it and I know that I will read it many times in the years to come.
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JB Salsbury, USA Today Best Selling author of the Fighting series, lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and two kids. She spends the majority of her day as a domestic engineer. But while she works through her daily chores, a world of battling alphas, budding romance, and impossible obstacles claws away at her subconscious, begging to be released to the page.
Her love of good storytelling led her to earn a degree in Media Communications. With her journalistic background, writing has always been at the forefront, and her love of romance prompted her to sink her free time into novel writing.
Fighting for Flight, Fighting to Forgive, and Fighting to Forget are the first three novels in the MMA romance series. Fighting the Fall is due to be released in October 2014.
For more information on the series or just to say hello, visit JB on her website, Facebook, or Goodreads page.