PJV Quickie: Against the Ropes is a sexy, steamy, and sometimes funny journey through the world of underground MMA fighting.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes.  But, while the story got off to a great start, it floundered in the middle and the ending was good but couldn’t totally make up for the weaker points.

Makayla Delaney is a young college grad who’s working a desk job in a hospital and barely making ends meet.  She’s got a hefty student loan due, so she agrees to help her bestie out by taking tickets at the door of Redemption, a local underground gym/MMA fight club.  She meets Torment, who turns out to be the owner, and oh my! is he yummy in a dark, dangerous, bad-boy way.

Torment (aka Max) owns Redemption, and the cute girl at the door piques his interest – she’s spunky and funny, and seriously sexy.  He talks her into agreeing to work at the club using her EMT skills; because it’s an underground club there are no medics on site.

What happens next is a provocative, stormy romp from the underground fight scene up through high society:  lines are crossed, secrets are discovered, and dangerous decisions are made.


I had a hard time deciding on my rating for Against the Ropes.  On the one hand, as I mentioned above, I do like the author’s writing style:  it feels anticipatory, if that makes sense, like that moment right before a first kiss, when you’re holding your breath and your heart is beating and it feels like forever but it’s only a moment – yeah, like that.  On the other hand, it also felt like those nights where you don’t feel like cooking and pull out all the leftovers from your fridge, even if they really don’t go together, because you want to use everything.

I really liked the set up –  how they met and their attraction to each other.  Makayla was self-deprecating in a humorous way and I instantly liked her.  I liked the secondary characters, both at the gym and at the hospital, although I didn’t care for her BFF, who was a pretty crappy friend, in my opinion.  I liked Makayla and Max’s texts back and forth – they were cute.

There were three big plot points that bugged me:

Makayla’s an EMT, thinking about continuing to paramedic training or medical school, but she gets sick when she sees people hurting each other – that seems like an odd career choice for someone with a weak stomach.  I kind of felt like that was a pointless focal point that should have been left out.

I wasn’t expecting the BDSM aspect and it felt choppy – sometimes they have ‘regular’ sex and sometimes he wants to D/s but just springs it on her whenever he feels like it, which seems like it would be confusing to a potential partner as to when she could just get into it and when she needs to wait for direction, or rope, or a spanking, or… whatever.

I also didn’t like Torment’s other life when he’s not at the gym.  I think it would have been a good story without his ‘alter ego’ and all the things that went along with it.  I picked up this book thinking I was getting a straight MMA fighter-hero, not a hybrid sometimes-street fighter.

I think Against the Ropes could probably fall into the New Adult category, and as such there were the usual angsty pasts for the main characters that seem to go along with that.  Ultimately, even though there were some issues for me, the MMA portion of the story was interesting and kept me reading; I like Ms. Castille’s writing style enough to give another one of her books a try.


I saw a lot of similarities to 50 Shades of Grey and also Bared to You; so if you liked either of those books I think you will enjoy Against the Ropes.  Also recommended for fans of MMA-fighter heroes.

Other books you might like, similar to ‘Against the Ropes’: