PJV Quickie: I love a good ‘fighter-hero’ romance, and when I originally picked up Knock Out I thought I was going to get a typical ‘fighter/girly-girl’ romance – boy was I wrong. Ms. Mannon has written a complex, broken hero and a surprisingly resilient heroine who will grab your attention and wipe your emotions all over the mat.
‘Luscious’ Logan Rettino was successful ballerina with a promising career until her world fell apart on live TV. Now, she’ll never dance on the stage again thanks to a shattered ankle, courtesy of her loser ex-fiancee who dropped her while they were competing on a reality dancing show, and he’s dragging her reputation through the mud while he continues to court the media with his new girlfriend. Since the jerk also used her savings to buy the apartment that he kept after they broke up, Logan needs money to pay her medical bills and to fulfill her dream of opening a dance studio. She’s taken a job as an octagon girl for MMA fights, and while it’s not what she wants to do, the pay is very good.
Keane ‘Boom-Yay’ O’Shea is an ex-marine and MMA fighter with a reputation for winning matches quickly. What’s not so well known is that he’s also got a serious case of PTSD and survivor’s guilt. He fights to take the edge off, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to, and he decides he’s done.
When Logan gets fired, the only way she can get her job back is to get Keane to agree to continue fighting. While she’s fighting to help him and he’s fighting to push her away, they’re both learning that there’s more than one way to win and it’s okay to accept help from people who love you.
I’m going to just jump right in and say it – I do love a good Fighter Hero, but Keane was hard to like. It was a long hard road and I feel like I traveled that road to redemption right along with Logan, fighting to find a hero worth loving. Honestly, it was easier to dislike Keane, but as the story moved forward and Logan got to know Keane better, I slowly started to not necessarily like him, but understand his actions, until I found that I DID like him and his pain hurt me to read, if that makes any sense.
I really liked Logan: she was so upbeat, even while her world was crumbling around her. I kind of felt like she was too hard on herself – she thought everyone was laughing at her but the fans seemed to love her and I did too. I think some people may read her character as weak, but to me she was a strong character who was able to be strong without being annoying and abrasive. Her perseverance and ability to keep her eye on her goals even under the scrutiny of the paparazzi and public eye. At first, it was for selfish reasons, but as she begins to understand the depths of Keane’s demons, we can see where things shift and she begins fighting for him as a person instead of a means to an end.
The secondary characters were interesting in their own rights and since I realized this is the first in a series there are a few characters whom I imagine the next story could be about, and the fact that I look forward to ANY of their stories says good things about the writing. I’m looking forward to whatever she’s writing next and hoping the wait won’t be too long 😉
If you like intense fighter-heroes, broken heroes, heroines who know how and when to fight for what they want, and a great HEA, I’d highly recommend Knock Out.
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