opponent. Except his size makes her freeze whenever he gets too close. If Ella can’t learn how to overcome her fear of being attacked, she’ll never be able to move on with her life.
“What’s she looking for?” Lance asked, refocusing on the present. She had impressed him yesterday with her chokehold, but that didn’t mean she knew squat about MMA. That could have simply been adrenaline spurring her on.
“She was pretty specific in what she wants.” A weird expression crossed Mac’s face, a mixture of consternation and intrigue. “She’s not looking for a pussy workout—her words not mine. She wants a trainer who knows a lot about ground work, but can also help her build the strength and speed of her stand-up. She wants to be treated just like any of the male fighters in this building and the most interesting thing is she wanted a light-heavyweight build. That’s you.”
Lance stared at his friend for a second, digesting the information. That was a tall order from someone just coming in for a workout. “Does she fight?”
That was the only explanation for her requests he could think of. In recent years, women fighters had surfaced in the industry and they kicked some serious ass.
“Nope. Just does this as a hobby.”
Kind of an intense hobby for someone who had no interest in making it a career.
“She’s good,” Mac continued. “Watch her.”
Lance crossed his arms over his chest and studied her inside the ring, still circling with Billy, dodging his attempt at a takedown. She was a beauty. Even with everything that had been happening, he’d noticed that yesterday. Hell, he’d have to be blind to miss it. After she’d sent Ralph to the ground, she stood there with confidence oozing off her. No fear or intimidation had even flicked in her eyes as the man towered over her. Other than the birth of his daughter, it was the most awe-filled sight he’d ever seen. When Ralph had started to rise, Lance had been uncertain of what the man was capable of, so he’d stepped forward, daring him to try anything. And still, she hadn’t wavered in her confident stance.
Today she was the same. Except she wasn’t wearing jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt. No, today she was in a tight teal workout top and matching spandex shorts. The outfit showed off the softs swells of her toned, athletic body.
Suddenly, she went down on both knees and flipped Billy over her back onto his. The canvas thudded under the impact of his body. Impressive.
“I’ve watched her all morning,” Mac said. “She’s fucking something and has been training for a while.”
“Is this all you’ve seen her do?”
“Nah. Billy warmed her up on the bag. Dude, let me tell you, that woman has a fierce right hook. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it.”
The woman, while still shapely and soft, had a steel quality about her—a don’t-even-think-to fuck-with-me aura. He liked that.
She would be fun to train. As much as he needed to keep his distance from her, a thrill encased him now. Maybe they could leave whatever happened yesterday outside the door.
Both Ella/Kelsey and Lance are fantastic characters who very nearly let their own pride ruin their lives. Brought together when Lance is assigned to be Ella’s MMA trainer, their mutual respect (her for his excellent training abilities, him for her skill and determination) quickly turns to something more…even though neither of them is really in a place at the moment to indulge in “more”. They’ve both got their own fights to get through–literal and figurative–and a past they can’t escape.
Throw in a pig-loving, adorable little girl; two scary-as-heck local gangsters; and an illegal underground fighting ring; and you’ve got one heck of a story!
Healing Love is the fourth book in the series, but it would work fine as a standalone. Though if you enjoy this one, you’ll love the first three too, so…
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Abby Niles is the author of the contemporary MMA series, Love to the Extreme, and the paranormal series, The Awakening. She is also the author to the geeky romantic comedy, Defying Convention, where Live Action Role Players (LARPers) set out to teach their favorite author a lesson, but end up playing matchmaker instead.
Abby lives in North Carolina with the love of her life and their combined gaggle of kids. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to catch up on an endless pile of laundry and find time to get some much needed reading in.