Former MMA fighter Aiden "Irish" O'Brien hasn't stepped into the ring since he accidentally took someone's life in the heat of rage. When his friend calls in a favor that sends him south to check on family, Irish figures he's got nothing to lose. His life is on the ropes. The least he can do is make sure the sexy redhead is safe.
Kat MacGregor has forty-eight hours to settle the twenty thousand dollar debt her deadbeat ex-boyfriend owes a crime boss. If she doesn't, she'll pay for it—with her life. Kat's halfway out the door when a sexy new guy walks into the bar and insists he's there to help.
Irish is forced to fight in the underground MMA circuit to win the money she needs. But he's been lying to Kat. About who he is, about knowing her sister, about why he comes home bruised every night. She's the best thing that's ever happened to him, but breaking her trust will cost him the most important fight of his life: the one for her heart.
Each book in the Fighting for Love series is STANDALONE:
* Seducing Cinderella
* Rules of Entanglement
* Fighting For Irish
* Sweet Victory
About the Author
Gina Leigh Maxwell is a shameless romance addict with no intentions of ever kicking the habit. Growing up she dreamed of entertaining people with her acting abilities, until she came to the realization as a college sophomore that she had none. Another ten years would pass before she discovered a different means to accomplishing the same dream: writing stories of love and passion for addicts just like her.
When she's not writing or wrangling plot bunnies in her San Antonio home, Gina keeps busy with her wonderful family and their
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Gina L. Maxwell, is a shameless romance addict with no intentions of ever kicking the habit.
Growing up, she dreamed of helping people escape reality with her sublime acting abilities. It wasn’t until college when she realized she had none to speak of, thereby derailing her lifelong plans. Another ten years would pass before she discovered a different means of accomplishing the same dream: writing stories of love and passion for romance addicts just like her.
Thanks to the support of her amazing family, Gina is now the Boss of the world’s first organized romance mafia, the Maxwell Mob, and living her dream of bringing a little romantic fantasy to the world—one steamy novel at a time.
Visit and chat with Gina on all her social media homes: www.ginalmaxwell.com
Read an Excerpt
Fighting for Irish
A Fighting for Love Novel
By Gina L. Maxwell, Liz Pelletier, Ross Zentner
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Gina L. Maxwell
All rights reserved.
Two months later ...
Aiden scanned the room of the rowdy backwoods bar and studied the various stages of inebriation of its patrons: drunk, really drunk, and totally shitfaced.
The crowd had hit its peak, but Kat MacGregor, who went by the ill-fitting alias Sydney Carter, kept pace between the bar and her tables without any problems.
Since finding her, Aiden had gotten himself hired as a cooler for the bar and allowed to put together a small team. It had only taken a couple days of observing the damage caused by nightly bar fights to sell Lou on the idea. Especially since they were getting paid just as shitty as the rest of the employees. The bar owner ended up making out in the deal, since he didn't have to keep replacing beer glasses and tables.
Aiden had called his good friend and old teammate, Xander James, and soon after, Xan had loaded up his worldly possessions and Aiden's other bike and driven down to become part of the team and "find his next adventure."
Aiden had recruited Johnny Anders and a couple of Johnny's buddies to round out the team. Now, on any given night, Lou's had two coolers working the floor. Usually three or four on weekends, depending on when the full moon came around because the crazy seemed to flow like the beer on those days.
The hardest part had been teaching Johnny and the others the difference between a bouncer and a cooler. They kept thinking that their job was to step in once an issue became a problem, which was the job of a bouncer.
Coolers were proactive. They did their best to contain things before they became problems, ensuring the bar stayed busy, if a little on the rambunctious side.
Xan and Aiden had to shadow them the first couple weeks to show them what they were supposed to look for as coolers. Once they got the hang of it, though, there was a lot less broken shit to clean up at the end of the night. Not that a night at Lou's Riverview was anything close to calm and uneventful, but it was a lot less volatile than before.
And if he could make Kat's environment a little safer for now, then he was satisfied.
"Same shite, different night, eh mate?" The British-accented voice of Xander crackled through the comm-link in his ear. Aiden had ponied up the cash for those babies, which had been the deal clincher for Lou. So long as his backup could hear him if he needed them, he didn't care.
Every Friday night was the same. When the people of Alabaster blew off steam from their workweek, the bar became a hotbed for trouble. Emotions ran high, fueled by pitchers of beer and rounds of shots. The entire scene was underscored by the classic rock and country music blaring through the sound system.
"Always is," he said absently as Kat whooshed by holding a tray of bottlenecks.
Barely turning his head, he followed her with his eyes. The swing of her hips and curve of her ass damn near hypnotized him. Kat made waitressing look like an art form, simultaneously weaving her way through the crowd, delivering trays of drinks, and beating back the locals with her sharp wit and even sharper tongue.
As he moved through the land of the inebriated, he searched for signs of trouble and kept one eye on the spunky redhead. She knew how to handle herself and, unlike the other waitresses, never called on the coolers for help. But that never stopped him from intervening. There was always a bad apple in the bunch that didn't use the sense God gave him.
If he noticed a potential threat, he'd move in and take care of it before it escalated. If his presence alone wasn't enough, a well-worded threat against the family jewels usually did the trick. Around these parts, the "family" kind was all they had and they tended to prefer them intact.
The first time he'd run interference for Kat with a less-than-polite customer, she'd stared at him incredulously. He'd only managed to stare back, unable to find his words with those light blue eyes turned on him, before she spun on her heel and stormed off. That happened a few more times: him stepping in, an awkward staring contest, and a silent retreat.
Then, one night after he'd "escorted" a guy out in a chokehold for grabbing her ass, she stalked up to him outside with narrowed eyes and fists planted on slender hips. "I can take care of myself."
Aiden crossed his arms over his chest. "I don't doubt that."
"Then knock it off. The other coolers aren't as meddling as you. Dealing with a certain amount of crap gets me decent tips. You scowling at every customer who looks at me wrong is cutting into my bottom line, buddy."
Aiden hadn't considered that the waitresses got tipped better if they let the men flirt or paw at them. He scowled. He didn't want to hurt her financially, but there was no way he was backing off. "How much would you say you lose every time I interfere?"
She threw her hands in the air, clearly frustrated. "Five, ten, twenty bucks? How the hell should I know?"
He nodded. "Then I'll give you twenty bucks every time I keep some asshole's hands off you."
Her brows drew together and the starch left her spine. "I don't want your money, Irish." He liked the way his name sounded on her lips. Or his nickname, anyway. Just like she used an alias, he'd stuck with his old nickname from his fighting days. Xander was the only one there who knew his real name — and his secrets — and he intended to keep it that way.
"Are you listening to me?" she asked. "I want you to back off."
Like hell he would. "Can't."
"What do you mean you can't?"
He couldn't tell her that any more than he could back off like she wanted. Couldn't tell her that his reason for leaving his home on the South side of Boston for Bumfuck Nowhere had started out as a favor owed to a friend and ended up as something else entirely. That from the moment he saw her, his promise to make sure she was okay for her sister's peace of mind came second to his own inexplicable need to watch over her. To protect her.
Fighting the urge to pull her into his arms and chase away the ghosts he saw in her eyes, Aiden shoved his hands in his jeans pockets. "As long as I'm around, no one touches you without an invitation." Unable to help himself, he lowered his head and whispered in her ear. "No one."
She jerked back with a barely audible hitch of breath. A flash of something he couldn't identify crossed her face, and then she darted back inside. After that, she never spoke to him again other than a quick thank you with her eyes whenever he helped her. Nonverbal communication was fine with him, so he always responded with a look of his own, hoping it said, you're welcome, and not, Goddamn you're gorgeous, or, I'd give anything to bury myself in you for a night. Since she hadn't hauled off and kicked him in the junk yet, he figured he'd done okay so far.
Every day, though, it was getting harder and harder to disguise the heat he suspected simmered in his eyes when he locked sights with her. He couldn't help it. He liked to think he was a decent guy, but he was far from a damn saint. Her pixie-petite frame and subtle curves were highlighted by her short and tight uniform, and it was all he could do to not mentally undress her.
And then mentally fuck her.
"Irish," Xan said through the comm-link. "You got sights on the shit brewing over by the billiards?"
"How many times have I told you we call it 'pool' on this side of the Pond? You sound like an ass."
"Right, and you sound so bloody intelligent with your wicked smaht accent, ya feckin' Southie."
"Better than being a Yorkie, douchebag."
Some friends drank beer and hugged. Some beat on punching bags and gave each other shit. Aiden and Xan didn't hug.
He located the two already in a heated argument, but his phone vibrated on his hip before he even took a step in their direction. Shit. Very few people had his number. Fewer still whom he could blow off. Checking the screen, he swore under his breath at the text.
"Xan, I gotta make a call. Think you can handle this one solo?"
"Look who you're talking to. Of course I can. I can handle anything." Xander was known for many things. Modesty wasn't one of them. "Go take your call, but hurry it up. I want to chat up this lovely bird who keeps shagging me with her eyes."
"This might shock you," Aiden replied as he made his way to the back office, "but your sex life isn't my top priority."
"Neither is yours. You need to stop fucking around and tell —"
"Shut it, Xan." Closing the office door behind him muffled most of the noise from the bar. "When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it."
He turned off his comm-link and pulled it from his ear to dangle over his shoulder. Aiden hated these calls. They reminded him of things he tried to forget. Like the current double life he was leading.
After a couple of rings, a male voice answered. "Hey, O'Brien."
"How's it goin', Jax?"
"It's been better, man. Between stress from work and planning a wedding, V's a little more high-strung-OCD than normal. Add in worrying about her little sister, and I'm strongly considering putting an ad in the classifieds for an old priest and a young priest, Exorcist style."
Aiden grinned and leaned his hips back on the edge of the paper-covered desk. "So you're hoping an update will help soothe the beast, is that it?"
"I'm willing to try anything at this point, but I figured I'd call you before the newspaper. So what's going on in Alligator Alley? Tell me you two eloped and are making babies on a beach somewhere."
"I thought you wanted good news."
"Are you kidding? That'd be awesome news. Then we'd be brothers through marriage and we could build the first Irish-Hawaiian team in MMA. Just think how cool our banner would be. Our logo could be a pineapple with a shamrock cut out of it."
Aiden dragged a hand over his face. He'd almost forgotten how exhausting Jax could be. To outsiders, Jax seemed deceptively calm and laid back, but those lucky enough to call him friend knew the guy had boundless energy that he put into three things: fighting, surfing, and his relationship with Kat's older sister, Vanessa. Beyond that, Jax was the kind of man you could count on when the shit hit the fan.
Which was why Aiden was in his current situation. He owed Jax. A lot.
He didn't know the specifics of Kat's situation except that she'd asked Vanessa for help with something major before disappearing from her last known place of residence. They'd hired a PI, who'd managed to locate her in Alabaster, but Vanessa wasn't convinced she wasn't still in trouble of some sort. That's when he'd gotten the call from Jax, asking him to head down to Louisiana for a couple weeks to see what Kat was up to and if she was okay.
But a couple weeks was going on three months of watching out for Kat, whether she liked it or not. He periodically reported in to Jax or Vanessa to maintain the ruse that he'd stayed for them and not for reasons of his own he didn't care to examine.
Aiden shoved his hand into his jeans pocket. "I wish I could help, but there's nothin' new to report here. Same old, same old, you know?"
"Well, I guess that's better than the alternative of finding out she's still in trouble," Jax said. "Listen, I also wanted to tell you that I'm taking V on a cruise tomorrow. We'll be gone two weeks. She needs to unplug and unwind before she has a total meltdown. I'm concerned for Kat, too, but my first priority is my fiancée and I'm confident you can handle everything out there until we get back."
Aiden nodded. "She's been out here for six months without any issues. Odds of anything happening are practically nil, so just worry about your girl. I got things over here."
"So the big day's coming up, isn't it?"
Jax's heavy sigh came through the tiny speaker loud and clear. "I'm not sure. She's already canceled it and changed the date twice. This cruise was actually supposed to be our honeymoon. She keeps pushing the wedding back with excuses about work or not having things ready, but I know better than that."
"I didn't peg her for a cold feet kind of girl."
"It's not about that, brah. She keeps hoping Kat will answer her calls and agree to come to the ceremony."
Aiden swore something stabbed him in the chest at hearing that. He was so close with his sisters. He couldn't imagine not being at their weddings. Colleen was his Irish twin, which meant they had the same birth year. He'd been born in January and she in December. Growing up, she often played the role of "mom" to him and their baby sister, Mary Catherine, when their mother was at one of her two jobs. And outside the house, Aiden protected and looked after his sisters.
They'd forever been the Three Musketeers, them against the world. Or what was their world, anyway. It'd been hard distancing himself from them over the last several years, even though it was for their own good. But if he ever had to completely sever ties, it'd be devastating.
Aiden rubbed a hand over his mouth. "I'm sorry to hear that, man. Hopefully a few more calls to Kat about wedding stuff will do the trick."
"I have a better idea. Sweep her off her feet, whisk her to Hawaii, and we'll have a double wedding. I hear they're all the rage."
"Yeah, right. So not happening, brah," he said, adding a mocking tone to his friend's Hawaiian term.
"Okay, fine," Jax said. "Jokes aside, though, man. As far as V knows, Kat has a real bad history with men. I don't know her, but I know you. You're a good man, O'Brien. You'd treat her well, and she might even remind you you're not the piece of shit you think you are. Who knows, you might even fall in love."
Aiden pushed off the desk and clenched the phone hard enough to do some damage if he kept it up for long. "I can't have that, Jax. You know that."
"That's where you're wrong," he said meaningfully.
"Killing my best friend's sister doesn't exactly make me the lovable type."
"Everyone deserves to be loved, O'Brien. Even you. You're just too lost in the past to realize it."
Unable to get past the tightness in his throat to say anything else, Aiden disconnected the call. He couldn't deal with the shit in his head trying to get out right now. It was almost closing time. He needed to focus on getting through the rest of the night, and then he'd go home and work out till he passed out or at least became too tired to think. Total physical and mental exhaustion was his only option for self-medicating anymore.
As he entered the main area of the bar, he saw Kat arguing with a customer. Pushing his way through the crowd, Aiden approached the four men in the booth, placing himself between the mouthy one and Kat. The table quieted as he planted his feet and crossed his arms.
Pinning the drunk with nothing more than a hard stare, he directed his question to Kat. "What's the problem?"
"He's just arguing over his tab," she said. "It doesn't require your services, Irish."
Aiden nearly smirked. She was so proud, this one. He liked that about her, though, and she was right. She could take care of a squabble over a bill. Giving her a quick nod of acknowledgment, he moved out of her way but stayed within earshot.
"Speaking of servicesss," the man slurred, "what do you charge for your serviccces?"
Kat shook her head and made a clucking sound with her tongue. "Come on now, Karl. Didn't your mama raise you to never ask a lady about her business unless she offers first?"
"My mama run off when I was little, but my daddy taught me plenty on what to do with da ladies." The group of men erupted in laughter and elbowed one another in the ribs.
"I'll just bet," she said. "Look, why don't you pay for the seven rounds you and I both know you ordered, and I'll get you one last round on the house."
Karl narrowed his eyes, a sneer twisting his lips, and leaned in. "I tell you whut. I'll pay for the six rounds I know I ordered, and instead of a free round, you can show us your titties."
Aiden's body shot bowstring tight. In one stride, he reached the booth, yanked the bastard out by the front of his shirt, and held him so his toes barely scraped the floor.
Excerpted from Fighting for Irish by Gina L. Maxwell, Liz Pelletier, Ross Zentner. Copyright © 2014 Gina L. Maxwell. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Like Irish’s favorite cranberry Juice – Fighting for Irish was a bitter, sweet, tart and delicious 5 stars! Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We learned about Kat MacGregor, Vanessa MacGregor’s sister, in Rules of Entanglement. Kat’s upbringing, tough at best and cripplingly devastating at its worst, left her with deep emotional scars and a protective covering around her heart. She was on the run from the Tennessee Mafia and unable to communicate with Vanessa. A worried Vanessa, led Kat’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Jax, to hire his friend Aiden O’Brien (Irish), to find, follow and if need be, protect her, in Fighting for Irish. Irish, a retired MMA fighter, was also hiding a tortured past and despite their best efforts their mutual attraction brought them closer. Together they tore down each other’s walls, brick by brick, exposing more deep seeded pain and allowing the possibility of love to blossom. Both Kat and Irish were beautifully broken characters who deserved healing, forgiveness and the opportunity at happily ever after, as they faced their pasts. In true Gina Maxwell fashion, the sex was explosive. However, the slow, deliberate, yet gentle, buildup to their lovemaking was handled with care, respect and sensitivity for two characters who believed they were unlovable. Ms. Maxwell’s pacing of their relationship, amid the suspense, was impeccable. Of the three books in the series, Fighting for Irish was the most poignantly moving. While Fighting for Irish, may be read as a standalone novel, I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series – Seducing Cinderella and Rules of Entanglement, to get a complete sense of the previous relationships and characters that brought Kat and Irish together. In addition, I am looking forward to reading Xander’s story, as he will be another tough nut to crack, and deserves his own ladylove.
Gina L Maxwell just keeps getting better! I loved Seducing Cinderella & Rules of Entanglement, but with Fighting For Irish, Gina surpassed all of my expectations! A darker storyline than the first two books in the series, Fighting For Irish focuses on former MMA fighter Aiden “Irish” O’Brien & Kat “Kitten” MacGregor. Each has their own personal struggles and events in their past that they must come to terms with before they will allow themselves to accept the other's love. Irish, having left the ring after blaming himself for the death of his best friend’s sister, is avoiding the life he once had. While Kat, abused as a child & disappointed by life (but is a stronger person than she realizes) is on the run from a crime boss seeking to collect a debt owed by her ex-boyfriend. Kat & Irish are brought together when Irish is asked by his friend Jax (RoE) to check up on his fiancé’s sister Kat, Irish agrees because he’s got nothing to lose & nothing better to do. Gina does a fantastic job of developing a believable relationship between Kat & Irish while showing the horrors and struggles someone that has been abused goes through and the hard work needed to overcome them. Despite the life she’s lived & all she's gone through, as hard as it was, Kat didn't cater to Irish. She sassed him back when needed & didn’t put up with any attitude from him. Neither believes that they are good enough for the other, but as the story progresses, we see Irish give all of himself to Kat because he cannot help but love her, even as she does the same & learns to finally trust someone with her body, heart & soul. We watch as both Kat & Irish learn accept the unconditional love that they have for each other. These characters were well developed and complex & they suited each other very well. As with all of Gina’s books, the sex scenes are HOT, but she doesn't leave the romance behind to be forgotten. The first kiss between Kat & Irish is so sweet it breaks my heart. Gina writes characters that aren’t characters at all, but people we can connect with & people we care about. She makes it easy to get lost in their story. If you haven’t read any of Gina’s books…Why not?!? Go out & read them now! I can’t wait to see what Gina has in store next for Xander & his story!
Nina Maxwell has done it again!! I loved this book and the sex scenes were off the charts!! 1click that B@#CH!!
I am such a huge fan of her books and this one was no exception! The characters are amazing, the sex is amazing and she is an amazing author! I could not put this book down. The characters and the way they were handled showed they loved each other very much and the book was a must read. Could not put it down.
About a girl falling in love with a boy
I loved all three books in this series. Though each is a stand alone i recommend reading them in order (cinderella, engagement, then irish). This third book is a little heavier due to Kat's past but the issues were addressed with class and compassion and i loved the relationship between the two leads in this book. I hope there is more to come in this series. Very well done.
3.5 Stars Reviewed by Francesca and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog Well, here’s the thing with this book. It’s sweet and enjoyable, and an entertaining read. However, there was something, a spark of connection for me with the characters, to enjoy this one as much as I’ve done the other two in the past. So let me tell you what I liked best. The hero’s personality. Aiden (Irish) is hot, all possessive and badass, with a side of danger he keeps covered up. There’s an edge to him just under the surface, like a caged tiger. What I didn’t connect with as much? The couple’s connection. I never got to the point where I cared what happened to either one of them that much. I was going through the motions and was happy to see the end result, but I could take them or leave them. What I didn’t like? I thing I’ve reached my personal limit for the “I’m not good enough for her” plot. When I don’t see a solid reason, and it has to be so good of a reason that I may not be able to think he can come back from it, then it annoys me to no end when it gets dragged on. Add to that an easy resolution, because… well, it wasn’t such a big deal as he originally made it out to be in his head, and then my agitation grows more. But all in all, I always enjoy Ms. Maxwell’s stories. They’re sweet and sexy, with a dash of danger. And I really hope the author has more in store for us in this series. This time, I’d like to see an active fighter!
Love Ms. Maxwell's work. The only thing this one lacked was more steamy love scenes! One can never have enough of those !
What is this exactly?
Story events and characters were a little hard to believe at times... not as good as the previous 2 books.
I just loved these characters. Aiden is so ridiculously caring, kind, swet and sexy and he has no clue. Kat is a brave young woman who proves that you can overcome anything especially if you allow yourself to trust and open up.
Pierced, tattooed MMA fighter with a Boston accent and an intense devotion, protectiveness, tenderness and desire for the object of his affection? SIGN ME UP! Fighting for Irish is the second book in the Fighting for Love series. It can be read as a standalone, but I wouldn’t miss the first “Rules of Engagement” if I were you. HOT. I have to say though, I think this one might have been even better! This is the story of Aiden (aka “Irish”), a friend of Jax’s (from the first book). He’s been sent to look after the situation of Jax’s fiancé’s sister Kat. She’s on the run from a mobster to whom she owes money, so she’s in a backwater town in the south trying to disappear. Jax rolls into town and finds her, then positions himself as the cooler in the same bar where she works so he can keep an eye on her. He didn’t count on being so attracted to her. But she’s in danger and her life may depend on him. Can he keep her safe? Can they make it when secrets come to the surface? The best part of this book for me was Aiden. He’s a bit damaged, but he’s just a really good guy…he’s perfect in his imperfections. What starts as a favor to a friend morphs into a lot more for him. In Kat, he finds a kindred spirit. She stirs something in his soul that he’s not experienced before, but he perceives himself as bad for those with whom he becomes close, so even though he feels a pull towards Kat and gives into it, in the end he doubts himself too much and may lose the only good thing he’s ever had. It’s heartbreaking. But he was such a real and visceral character; you couldn’t help but want everything to work out the way both he and Kat deserve. He’s awesome, and definitely fell in the goldilocks zone of alpha males for me; he was just right. Kat has a really heart wrenching story, and you can’t blame her for the life that she’s lead up to this point. She has been used and abused in the worst way, and little does she know that in finding Aiden, she is finding salvation. I loved their story, and the buildup and chemistry between them. This isn’t a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of book. Aiden has to really work for not only Kat’s mental trust, but physical as well. It was a nice journey to follow, and Kat really finds redemption for herself in the end. I liked that. The story was solid. It was exciting and full of action and some very hot sex. You really can’t go wrong, in my experience, with a Gina Maxwell book. The plot’s may not be the freshest in the world, but she excels in her character building, which makes it easy for me to overlook some of the overused subplots found in books of this genre. It’s simply written really well, and is an enjoyable story. You can’t ask for much more than that. 4.5 stars. Reviewed by Sara for Crystal’s Many Reviewers *Copy provided for honest review*
Awesome. Enjoyed the whole book.
Great story and the amazing compassionate characters. Will read again.. Hot hot
Aiden"Irish" O'Brien is a former MMA fighter from Boston who is trying to get away from an unpleasant past. He finds himself in Louisiana to check up on his friend's future sister-in-law. Kat is also running from her past, but unfortunately her's is following her. When that past shows up, Irish is there to step in and help her. In protecting her, they spend more and more time together which leads to wanting just one intimate night with each other. And that one night turns into countless others. But can Aiden truly make her problems go away? Or will the secret about why he is there drive her away? What touched me the most about Aiden was his gentle heart. Sure he is strong, intimidating and sexy, but on the inside he is also a sweetheart. With Kat's abusive history, there are obstacles to overcome in order for them to be together. Aiden takes his time to help Kat get over each hurdle one at a time. And the way he called her "kitten" just melted me. They were honestly the perfect fit for each other and I enjoyed their story. There is a little suspense, a little action and a whole lot of sexiness. This was another great book in this series and I look forward to the next one.