Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
It can, I believe, sometimes be difficult for an author to maintain the interest of her readers when said author writes a series. Will the readers still be invested in the characters? Is it possible to keep each character’s voice different from the others? And what about the environment in which the series takes place – are readers still enjoying it? You might wonder why I start my review of “Fighting The Fall” in this way, but these questions have crossed my mind from time to time, so that is why I choose to voice them here.
I am happy to say that although this is not exactly one of my favourite books this year, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am, as ever, in awe of Miss Salsbury’s storytelling skills. These MMA fighters, and the women who “tame” them, are all very interesting to read about, and I will definitely recommend the entire series to romance lovers.
Now, this installment of The Fighting Series deals with some very controversial issues, but I do hope that you will keep an open mind, because you will rob yourself of a very compelling reading experience if you do not.
Cameron Kyle has suffered more than others: due to a blow during a fight when he was at the peak of his career in his early twenties, he was forced to leave the octagon, perhaps for good. A minor brain damage was the result of that last fight, and since then, he has spent the last fourteen years getting his strength back in order to take up fighting again. He is now the CEO of the UFL, and although being great at it, it is not exactly his dream. But that is not all he has had to endure, and when you read his story, I am quite positive that your heart will bleed for him.
Things start to change one night when Cam meets Eve Dawson, Raven’s best friend. Sworn off men for good – well, at least that is what she tries to convince herself of – she is unlike any other woman he has ever met. Not much intrigues Cam, but he finds himself completely unable to get Eve out of his mind, and she feels exactly the same way about him. The question is, though, if these two very broken people can find a way out of the darkness and live their lives to the fullest? And can they do it together, ignoring the scorn and ridicule they may face due to the age difference between them? Time will tell…
The character I connected with the most is actually Cam: he is strong, but hides his vulnerable side to everyone; his determination to never fall again is admirable; and his personal heartbreak tore at my heartstrings, making me hope that this strong man would find a way out of his pain-filled life. He is also an alpha male with a capital A, fiercely protective, and he truly has a heart of gold once you get to know him.
As for Eve…well, there is no doubt about the fact that she does seem older than her years in many ways. As it is with everyone, her past has shaped her, and I admire her tenacity and her pride: she does not want to be a charity case. I also admire her nurturing and caring sides a great deal, actually, and how she is determined to fight her way back whenever she falls. These are some of the characters traits she possesses which make her perfect for Cam. There were times, however, when I struggled a bit due to some of the things she said and did – which seemed unnatural or uncharacteristic to the person I had got to know – and that is why the book is given 4 stars instead of 5 from me.
The journey Cam and Eve go through, together but also separately, is not an easy one – but when is life truly ever easy? There are many obstacles these characters must go through, but that is why I, in many ways, find their love story to be very genuine and believable.
I love how this author always manages to keep me enthralled and fully invested in the stories she writes; her writing is very powerful, in my opinion, and she has a certain knack of incorporating a bit of wit and banter after some very heavy scenes have taken place. I really like that.
Overall, I cannot recommend this series enough; I enjoyed getting glimpses into the lives of the characters from previous books, and I would like to stress that I have no problem whatsoever with the age difference between Cam and Eve. Maybe it is because I am from Europe, and we see this type of thing a lot more different than other nations do, but I am of the firm belief that as long as people are consenting adults, love is the only thing that truly matters. Everything else is simply details.
CameronMeeting with the whiners. Check. Weigh-ins. Check. I’m flipping through the pages and checking off things I’ve completed when I feel her eyes on me.I don’t look up from my lists, but hear her feet on the carpet and finally the sound of creaking wood as she takes a seat across from me. “You got something to say?”“Can I ask you something?”“As long as you make it fast.” Her silence brings my eyes to her contemplative expression.“I noticed you’re not married.” She tilts her head to my left hand that is very much without a wedding ring.Not anymore. “And?”“Nothing really. Just surprised.”I lean back in my chair as irritation pinches my brows. “Surprised.”She shrugs. “Yeah, I mean you seem like a decent guy.”I’m not. “You seem like a decent woman and you aren’t married.” I nod to her empty left ring finger.She grins. “That’s because I just got divorced. Marriage jumping isn’t my thing.”This feels like one of those you-share-I-share conversations that I do not participate in. I find if I can bite back my impulsive outbursts and stay zipped people eventually give up.She twirls a strand of her long blond hair. “Ever been married?”I lock my jaw and wait, but she doesn’t fucking budge and stares with expectant eyes. Something tells me we’ll be here all day if I don’t give her something. I’d lie, tell her I’ve never been married, but if I plan on digging in here for the long haul, I’m going to have to give her enough to keep her satisfied.“Once.”Her eyes light up as if she just realized we belong to the same super-secret club. “Really.”What is it about sharing that creates this weird expectation from people? As if simply telling another person about your past allows them some special access into friendship. I don’t do friendship.I flip through my notebook and hope like hell this conversation is headed toward The End.“Any kids?”My hand freezes mid page-turn, and a whisper of pain echoes through my gut that would usually be followed by a cringe, but not anymore. I clear my throat and refocus on my notebook. “I have a son.”“Oh, that’s cool.” She’s silent for a few beats that are probably uncomfortable for her but don’t bother me at all. “I have a daughter.”The rumble of an old hurt reverberates against my shield. Ten years ago those words would’ve bled me alive, but not anymore. “Mm.”“How old—”“Look, I really have a lot to do.” I’m still studying the pages of my notebook like a complete asshole, but honest to God it’s as if we’re about to bust out some knitting needles and tiny sandwiches.“Sure thing.” She hops up and moves toward the door when she turns suddenly. “Oh, I forgot. We’re having a party after the fight tonight. The Blackout. You should come.”“Thanks, but”—I flip a page and another—“I think I’ll go home after the fight. Long day.”“Suit yourself. If you change your mind, we’ll be there.” She’s gone with the soft click of my office door.After party. Haven’t been to one of those in a while, at least not many I remember. The little flashes I’ve managed to retain carry good feelings of camaraderie with the team. I groan and lean back in my desk chair. My goal is to get back into the octagon, but until then I need to run this organization and put it back on its feet. The fighters got screwed by Gibbs and are having trust issues. I get that. Maybe showing up at this party is a smart move after all. Just for one drink. Should be painless enough.
EveWith my head down, I make way to my car when I notice a familiar car parked next to mine. I look up and my steps freeze just feet away. Leaning against my car, arms crossed at his chest, long powerful legs crossed at his ankles, is Cameron.My hand clutches my purse to my side. “Hey, what are you doing here?” I internally scold myself for sounding more defensive than happy to see him. He can’t possibly know what’s in my purse.It’s been days since I’ve seen him, and our quick telephone conversations do little to slake my desire to see him in the flesh.He shrugs. “Passing by, saw the place was closed for the night. Thought I’d hang out and see if I could speak to the manager.”My stomach jumps and goes warm. He came all the way here just to see me?“Did you have a bad experience? Like to make a formal complaint?”He pushes off my car and takes two steps toward me. Close, but not close enough. His eyes set in their usual glare, he shoves his hands into the pockets of his dark washed jeans. “Mmm . . .” He rubs his fingers across his lower lip, as he did the night in front of Mason. His eyes burn through me. “I have no complaints about my . . . experience.”His presence combined with his insinuation become too much and I drop my gaze. A tickle of caution pricks at my subconscious, reminding me that I’m not the kind of girl who shies away from flirtation. I’m not timid, demure, or easily swayed by just any man. But there are a few who have brought me to my emotional knees, and both of them I dislike. Immensely.His feet move into my line of site, and I pull my gaze up to settle on his face. How is he even more beautiful than I remember with all that thick dark hair, his fierce jaw, and full lips that I know are as powerful as they are soft?“What’re your plans tonight?” He reaches out and brushes my bangs off my forehead.Such a tiny gesture, but the sweetness of it makes my eyes flutter. “I was going to grab a bite to eat.”His eyebrows pinch together. “You hungry? I’ll take you to dinner.”I look around at the empty parking lot then move my eyes back to his. “Now?”“You hungry now?”“Very.”“Then yeah. Now.”“But it’s the middle of the night.”The corner of his mouth lifts so slightly it’s barely noticeable. “It’s Vegas, babe.”“But I’m in the mood for a bacon cheeseburger.” I lick my lips. I can almost taste the greasy goodness. “With green chilis.” My stomach grumbles in agreement. “And onion rings. Not the battered ones, but those breadcrumb ones.” I hum low in my throat. “Oh, and a chocolate milkshake or an ice cold beer will also do.” I tap my lips, thinking. “Hm. Maybe both.”
So lost in my food-fantasy I don’t notice the way he’s staring at me until I focus on him. His glare isn’t as tight as it usually is, and his mouth isn’t the straight—but full and kissable—line it usually is. It’s as if someone pulled the starch from his expression, not completely relaxed, but tender.