Fighting Love by Abby Niles
Talk about kicking a fighter while he's down.
Former Middleweight champion and confirmed bachelor Tommy "Lightning" Sparks has lost it all: his belt, his career, and now his home. After the devastating fire, he moves in with his drama-free best friend, Julie. One encounter changes everything and Julie is no longer the girl he's spent his life protecting but a desirable woman he wants to take to his bed. Knowing his reputation, he's determined to protect Julie more than ever—from himself.
Veterinarian Julie Rogers has been in love with Tommy since she was ten, but would love to get over the man. She's quiet nights at home and a glass of wine. He's clubbing all night and shots of tequila. As friends they work great. As a couple? No way in hell. She just can't get her heart to agree. When she starts spending time with another fighter, the man who's always treated her like a sister is suddenly not being very brotherly and enflames her body like never before.
Can two childhood friends make a relationship work, or will they lose everything because they stopped FIGHTING LOVE
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
A Love to the Extreme Novel
By Abby Niles, Liz Pelletier, Nina Bruhns
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Abby Niles
All rights reserved.
What the hell did he give a woman for Valentine's Day when he no longer had connections?
Frustrated, Tommy "Lightning" Sparks increased the speed of his jog, his grip tightening on Warrior's leash as his feet ate up the sidewalk, his even breathing visible as it puffed up into the February morning air. The frigid chill stung his cheeks as he glanced down at the chocolate Labradoodle to make sure his agitation wasn't transferring over to his dog. Nope. As always, the animal trotted along beside him, happy as all hell.
He wished he could say the same.
What to get his best friend for Valentine's Day had worried the piss out of him for the last three weeks, and he was no closer to an answer. The damn holiday was tomorrow.
He always did something special for Julie to show how much he appreciated their friendship. Last year, he'd arranged for her to meet her favorite country singer backstage after a concert. Easy enough to do, since the singer had been a fan of his, but Tommy didn't have that kind of influence anymore, did he?
Yeah, he was still Tommy "Lightning" Sparks. No one could take that from him, but the name was tainted now, didn't have the same punch behind it that it once did. Or the same pride.
And that fucking sucked.
Especially since it looked like the one person on the planet who meant the most to him was going to be stuck with a heart-shaped box full of chocolates for V-Day.
To hell with that. He wouldn't resort to such a lame present. Julie deserved more than some no-thought-or-effort-needed piece of cardboard with crap candy in it. He would just have to get creative.
He pounded on down the pavement, trying to come up with something. Suddenly, the acrid smell of burning hit his nose. Blinking out of his thoughts, he glanced around. Black smoke billowed high into the air, not too far in the distance.
What the —
The only things in the area were homes, and the amount of smoke he was seeing definitely did not come from a fireplace. He jogged around the corner. A group of people from neighboring houses had gathered in the middle of the street, some still in pajamas — in front of his house.
Breaking into a sprint, Tommy raced with Warrior down the sidewalk. The sounds of sirens blaring in the background let him know help was on the way. But the closer he got to the one-story vinyl-sided house, the more he had difficulty computing what he was seeing. Fire poured from the side windows, out the back of the house, up from the roof. What the fuck?
What. The. Fuck?
As he shoved his way through the crowd, he gaped wide-eyed at his house, dumbfounded. Everything he owned was on fire. Everyt —
Panic compressed his chest. No. He thrust Warrior's leash at a lady standing next to him. "Take him." When she just stared at his hand, he yelled, "Take him!" With a startled jerk, she snatched the nylon rope. "Don't let him follow me," Tommy ordered her.
Just as a fire truck careened around the curve, immediately followed by a second one, Tommy darted for the house. A hand latched onto his forearm. "Dude, you can't go in there!"
The hell I can't. Yanking free, Tommy tore up the front porch and heaved a shoulder into the door. The wood gave instantly, and he stumbled inside. Smoke enveloped him, making his eyes water and his throat burn. Coughing, he covered his nose and mouth in the crook of his arm and looked around, trying to get his bearings.
Searing heat came from the engulfed kitchen; flames spread across the ceiling of the living room and hallway that led to his bedroom. Debris rained down from above. A glowing ember landed on the sleeve of his black fitted running jacket. Knocking it off, he hurried across the living room, hunching over, low to the floor. Not that it helped. The thickening smoke filled every corner. One end of the couch suddenly lit up in flames and ignited the curtains behind it. As the fire crept up the wall, the room brightened.
Get the box and get out.
He moved forward. The intense heat was unbearable. Sweat rolled down his face. Flames shot out from the hallway into the living room, driving him back. Fury made him bellow as he surged forward into the hall.
He couldn't lose it. Everything that meant anything to him was in that box.
Two beams crashed to the ground a few feet from him. Orange embers swirled toward him. Once again he was forced back. His lungs burned, his eyes watered, his throat felt scorched. He desperately needed air.
But he couldn't give up. Not yet.
Just as he was about to push forward one last time, two arms locked around him and dragged him backward. Instinctively, he yanked against the hold. Then he saw the bedroom, and the fight left him in one defeated whoosh. The room was immersed in flames. The wall, the ceiling, the bed ... and the closet ... a fiery hell.
The box was gone. And Tommy felt as if he'd just lost a part of himself.
As the two firemen pulled him outside onto the lawn, fresh air greeted his starving lungs. He inhaled a greedy breath, which had him rolling onto his side, coughing.
"Is anyone else in the house?" a fireman yelled at him.
Finding he couldn't speak, Tommy shook his head between hacking coughs.
When a couple of paramedics tried to put him on a gurney, he sat up and waved them away, rasping, "I'm fine."
The female EMT wrapped a blanket around him. "I have to check how much carbon monoxide you've inhaled. You'll need to come with me."
Considering his lungs felt really heavy, he probably shouldn't argue. As he sat down in the back of the ambulance, Tommy glared at his house. Former house. And once again he felt his world close in on him.
When it fucking rained, it poured.
He stared at the flames licking over his front porch and engulfing the entire front of his house and garage. Fire poured out the side windows, out the back of the house, out the roof. Everywhere.
He'd gone for a run. A goddamn run.
Yanking off his beanie, he knotted his fingers in his dark blond hair and stared at the fiery mass that had been his home. He'd only been gone for a little more than an hour.
Hell, why was he thinking about time? Shit happened. Hadn't he been riding the shit-happened roller coaster for months now?
A bubble of laughter threatened to explode out of him. After everything that had come down on him over the last four months, of course this would happen. It had to. It was the next logical sequence of events. He'd fucked up. Lost his title. Got his ass ousted from MMA. So, to make money he'd essentially sold himself to the highest bidder.
Of course his house would burn to the fucking ground.
The EMT placed something against his lips. "Breathe into this until I tell you to stop."
After he did, his lungs rebelled and he coughed hard.
"CO detected, but low." She held up a clear plastic mask. "Sir, I need you to put this on. It's oxygen. It will help get the carbon monoxide out of your body."
He pressed the mask over his nose and mouth and inhaled the crisp, pure oxygen. Another cough erupted out of him, but he continued to inhale deeply as he watched his life go up in smoke for the second time this year.
"Sir, does anything hurt?"
Years gone in fucking seconds.
"Sir? Are you hurt?"
Annoyed, he shook his head, said, "No," and tore his attention away from the house, the lost memories, to survey the chaotic scene around him.
By now fire trucks and police cars littered the road, lights flashing. Two firefighters manned a hose, shooting a powerful jet of water at the front, while two others concentrated on the side. He didn't know what was being done about the back. If anything. The fire looked out of control.
He watched another flame erupt from a different portion of the roof. Still, when it came right down to it, nothing in that house mattered except that damn box.
Hell, he'd had no idea how important it was until he'd realized he was about to lose it. And now it was too late.
A whine came from beside him and he scratched the top of Warrior's head. The chocolate Labradoodle looked up at him, tongue hanging out.
"It'll be all right, buddy."
At least he always took his dog with him on his runs.
"Are you the owner?" a firefighter asked as he walked up.
"No. The renter."
"Does anyone else live here?"
"No, just me and my dog."
"I need to ask you a few questions." When Tommy nodded, the man flipped open a notebook and asked, "Name?"
The man, who had been concentrating on writing, glanced up sharply. "Tommy 'Lightning' Sparks?"
Fucking great. An MMA fan. "The former Tommy 'Lightning" Sparks." Just like his house, his career had gone up in flames four months ago. "It's just Tommy Sparks now."
He hoped there was enough edge in his voice to get across he was in no mood to take a trip down memory lane.
Apparently there was, and the dude went back to his twenty questions. "When did you leave?"
"A little more than an hour ago."
"And you went where?"
"For a run."
"Do you smoke?"
Hadn't he just said he was a runner? He squinted at the man, trying not to lose his patience, when he knew the man was just doing his job. "No."
After a series of more questions that all ended with the answer no, the firefighter asked, "Have you been noticing any electrical problems?"
Now they were getting somewhere. "A light switch has been on the fritz. I reported it to my landlord about six weeks ago, but he hadn't fixed it yet. I don't use it, though."
"Where was the switch?"
"In the kitchen."
The firefighter closed the notebook. "I hate to say this, but the house is going to be inhabitable."
"Do you have anyone to call?"
Tommy nodded. His landlord, for one. Let him know what was going on. Then he needed to figure out where he was going to stay tonight. Hell, more than tonight. It would take him a while to find a place to live. So he'd have to impose on someone for more than a few nights. Even if he found a place, he didn't have a bed or a couch ... or even a spoon. Man, the only clothes he had were what he was wearing.
The enormity of what had happened hit him, leaving him as dazed as he'd felt after he'd regained consciousness from Ricky Moon's knee to the face during the championship fight.
He'd lost everything then, too.
Thankfully, this time insurance would replace everything that had just burned to a crisp — except for the few things that actually meant anything.
Since nothing would ever replace the contents of that box, there was only one other thing he needed. Or rather, who he needed.
He needed his best friend.
* * *
Julie Rogers turned her Prius onto Tommy's road, passing the lines of ranch-style houses in the modest neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta. When Tommy's house came into view, her mouth dropped open on a stunned gasp. Good lord.
The front was charred beyond recognition. On the sides, the windows were shattered and blackened. The beige vinyl siding that remained was covered in black soot and the roof had huge, gaping holes. When Tommy had called her twenty minutes ago, his detached, emotionless tone had worried her. He'd simply said, "My house just went up in flames. I need you." Then he'd hung up. A part of her had hoped he'd been exaggerating. He hadn't been.
Where was he? She scanned the area. When she finally spotted him sitting between the back doors of an ambulance, a blanket wrapped around his broad shoulders, holding an oxygen mask to his mouth, his other arm draped around Warrior as he stared at the ruins, her heart climbed into her throat. After throwing the car into park, she shot out and raced toward him, her black heels clacking hard on the pavement. "Tommy!"
His head snapped in her direction and relief shone bright in his green eyes. When she reached his side, she grabbed his face between her hands, gaze frantically traveling over his soot-covered skin. "My God, are you okay?"
Other than the grime and the holes in his clothes and on the black beanie on his blond head, nothing seemed injured. He lowered the mask. "Yeah. They want me to do this for a few more minutes as a precaution, and then I can go. I wasn't in there long enough."
She stared at him a moment. Then she threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. When his lips immediately grazed the side of her head, an action he'd done since they were teens, and he whispered, "I'm okay, Julie," tears burned the backs of her eyes.
This man meant the world to her. More than he would ever know.
She pulled back to look at him. The pensive expression twisting his handsome face made her heart clench. He'd been through so much lately. Yeah, some of it was his own doing, but this ... this wasn't. She wanted to cry at the lost look in his eyes.
Tommy always acted like nothing fazed him, as if he didn't have a care in the world, which she found both admirable and infuriating. But this moment of vulnerability he was displaying threatened to bring forth the emotions she kept under lock and key. So, as she'd done for the past twenty-three years, she pretended they didn't exist and went to him as his best friend.
"What happened? Were you asleep?" God, what if the smoke had gotten to him before he'd woken up? The thought had her hugging him tightly again. "Did Warrior wake you?"
"No, we were out for a run."
Confused, she jerked back and stared at him again. Yes, he definitely looked like he'd just emerged from a burning building. "Then why —"
"I ran in to get something."
She gasped. "You did what?" Then she slapped him on the arm. Once wasn't enough. She smacked him again. "Are you insane? You could've died! I could be standing here sobbing because I lost my best friend for being an idiot!" She shoved his shoulder, then walked a couple of feet away, rubbing her forehead. "Jesus, Tommy. What the hell was so important you would risk your life over it?"
"It doesn't matter now. It's gone."
He glared at her. "I need you, Julie. Not a lecture. Drop it."
He was right. This wasn't the time. All that mattered was he was safe, even if he had made a reckless decision, which wasn't surprising anymore. Over the last year, Tommy had made many of those. "What happened?"
"They think it started in the kitchen. It was that damn switch. I'd been after the landlord for weeks to change it."
Julie glanced back at the charred house. All that remained of the garage was a few scorched beams, half a wall, and the blackened skeleton of Tommy's cherry-red Corvette. She grimaced. "Oh, Tommy. Your car."
"It's insured," he said, shrugging.
"What about rental insurance?"
"Have it." He sent her a lopsided smile. "Maybe I'm growing up after all."
At those words, she flinched. He was trying to be humorous, bring a little lightness into the moment — she got that — but she didn't like him using the words she'd yelled at him four months ago to go about it, especially after something like this. Losing his home to a fire was something he had no control over. The night she'd told him he needed to grow up, well ... she'd meant it.
Having to bail Tommy out of jail for brawling at a bar had been the lowest point of their friendship, and she'd been furious. Not to mention the fallout from the MMA scandal of the century — Tommy being banned from his coach's training facility hadn't been the only consequence. Ethan Porter, the president of Cage Match Championship, had banned him from the cage, too. Thankfully, the brawling charges had been dropped, so one night was all he'd spent in jail.
"You know I said that because I was pissed, right?" she said softly.
He shrugged. "There was some truth to it."
Yeah, more than some, actually. She let her silence speak for itself. Tommy knew what it meant.
One of the EMTs came over and had Tommy breathe into some contraption. After the woman looked at the reading, she nodded. "You're good. If you start having any nausea, lightheadedness, or any other symptoms, go straight to the ER, but you should be fine."
Excerpted from Fighting Love by Abby Niles, Liz Pelletier, Nina Bruhns. Copyright © 2013 Abby Niles. 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
## Definitely worth your time and money. This was much more emotional than I thought it would be. I actually found myself needing a tissue a time or two. Most of the book I enjoyed. The part I didn't like was the constant mention of Tommy's women (ergo only 4 stars). What a total man-whore. I don't find it necessary to reiterate that over and over. Once gets the point across just fine. Nevertheless, fantastic story that I will be reading again.
Once I started reading I couldn't put it down.
Holy cow didnt see that coming. I thought it wouldd be like every other friend to lover story but its not at all!
About 200 pages or so the book was pretty goood. Nice love scenes and the emotions where there in the book
Excellent read!!!!! I loved the story of best friends to finally identifying they loved each other. It wasn't until like page 150, but it was so funny when Tommy beccame so jealous when Julie started dating a big hunk MMA Heavyweight named Brody!!!! I was happy for her!!!! There is an ending an an HEA!!!!! I was impressed how well this book was written when it came to describing the fights, my husband teaches and coaches Mixed Martial Arts and currently has a fighter going pro, I know how dedicated the coaches and fighters are in real life!!!!
Find this review and more at Lusty Penguin Reviews! Lovers of contemporary romance will be completely swept away when reading Fighting Love, A Love to the Extreme Novel, by Abby Niles. Tommy “Lightning” Sparks and Julie Rogers have been best friends since they were ten years old. A mixed martial arts fighter, Tommy needs a place to live after his house burns to the ground. As best friends would, Julie offers Tommy her guest room, which he accepts. Julie has a hard time adjusting to Tommy’s presence because she realizes that she has been in love with him since he found her missing puppy all those years ago. Niles does a masterful job of interweaving stories from their youth, which really brings emotional depth to this story. Julie’s only problem is Tommy does not feel the same way. A loyal character, Julie has stood by Tommy’s side through thick and thin, which I just loved. I also enjoyed how fearless she is when telling Tommy he has screwed up, even though she is unable to let him know how she really feels. But, in the end, Julie decides to take the biggest risk and goes all out to see if Tommy is her one true love, which I just adored. When he first moves in, Tommy sees Julie only as a sister-like friend, but he slowly ascertains his feeling run way deeper than that. Both of them worry that changing their relationship from friends to lovers may just ruin everything between them. Their dates were highly entertaining, especially their trip to the aquarium when Julie wanted to see the penguins first. Their bedroom play is spicy hot. Tommy starts to show Julie that he is falling for her too, only to pull back because he fears that he is unable to have a real relationship. Unfortunately, he cannot see how these false starts end up hurting Julie more and more each time. Although patience is Julie’s middle name, she is devastated when she grasps that Tommy will never change and kicks him out. Tommy has so much to learn in the relationship department that I thoroughly enjoyed watching him figure it out and mature, and in turn, fell for him hard. The manner in which Tommy apologizes so fits his personality and is truly amazing. I suggest having tissues at the ready because if you are anything like I am, they will be needed. Fighting Love is a well-executed, character-driven romance with realistic characters and a happily ever after that will leave tears in your eyes and a huge smile on your face. I received an eBook copy of the book for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is my second book by Abby Niles--and it won't be my last. Friends-to-lovers can be such fun when done well, and this one definitely is. Tommy was a bit slow on the uptake--but, you know, he is a guy--and I absolutely loved the foil that Brody's character provided. Tommy wouldn't have clued in so quickly--relatively speaking--to the fact that his relationship with Julie had gone beyond the BFF stage without the jealousy that the other fighter inspired. (He's going to get a book too, right? And Mac? They definitely deserve their own stories, both of them.) Julie, of course, had known that she was in love with Tommy since, oh, forever, but felt like she was in permanent "friend zone" territory. And then he moves in with her.... There was a lot of fun "almosts" in this book, and a whole lot of drama going on behind the scenes that made it an entertaining read. (Did I mention Brody already? Yes? Well, let me just reiterate--he's awesome! Needs own book!) I'll admit that both Tommy and Julie went a tad bit too far at times with their internal struggle, creating unneeded drama and that the ending was fairly abrupt, BUT Tommy made an absolutely lovely grand gesture, which was enough to cover a multitude of sins, let alone the small handful that were here. Fighting Love is the second in the series, but works fine as a stand alone. 4 stars/ B rating. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Julie and Tommy have been best friends for most of their lives. They've always been there for each other, but Julie has secretly loved Tommy for many years. Tommy is completely oblivious though, and goes through women like candy. Julie has finally had enough and decides she just has to get over Tommy, once and for all. He'll never see her as more than a friend. Then Tommy's place burns down and he has nowhere to go…except to Julie's. Of course, Julie will let him stay with her, but that only makes it harder on her considering her feelings for Tommy. When she starts dating a fellow fighter, Tommy sees red and will stop at nothing to get rid of Brody. Tommy doesn't understand his intense feelings against Brody. He's just trying to protect his best friend, Julie, right? Ooh la la, this is one sexy romance with an uber-hot hero I couldn't get enough of! He's stubborn and sometimes a little dense, but he's also protective and dedicated to his best friend, Julie, which makes him the perfect hero. When it comes to romancing a woman though, he just needs a little push in the right direction and Ms. Niles gives us an ingenious heroine who will do just that…and then some! When Julie decides she's tired of playing nice, she'll pull out all the stops to get her man and that made Fighting Love a fantastic romance novel to me. I adored how Tommy fought his feelings and held back his lust, trying to protect his best friend. It makes his fall that much sweeter when the hero and heroine finally get together. I highly recommend not only this book, but the author, Ms. Abby Niles, too! I'm not only going to read her next book, but I'll be scurrying to find all those that I've already missed! Fighting Love is an excellent read and most definitely a keeper!
This book was what was expected and had a very predictable plot. I have to say the writing was well done in comparison to what is on the romance book market today and the editing was decent (uncommon find). I enjoyed it though I didn't fall in love and it will most likely not make it on my reread list.
Having been kicked out of sport he so loved for his violent behaviors, Tommy is a bit down on his luck. As the book opens, Tommy is racing back to his house because it is engulfed by flames. The only thing he was able to save are the clothes on his back and his faithful dog, Warrior. Faced with this unfathomable loss, on top of his career low, Tommy turns to his best friend, Julie. Julie has loved Tommy almost her whole life. When fate forces her to allow Tommy to live with her, Julie can no longer hide her feelings. As they spend time together, Julie sees a side of Tommy she hasn’t seen since they were children. The cockiness of his professional fighter days has disappeared and her truly caring friend is back. As they grow closer, Tommy is thrust back into the fighting world and just as quickly, Julie wonders if they can really stand the test of time. First and foremost, I was impressed by how quickly I was thrown into the world of MMA. This was the first Abbi Niles book I had ever read and I want to tip my hat to her, having never watched the sport myself, as I read the different fight scenes I literally felt like I was there with them. I could hear the heavy breathing, feel the tension, it was perfect. That said, I really fell in love with this book from the first chapter. This is the second book in a series, but can absolutely be read as a stand alone like I did. Julie and Tommy were excellent characters, and the indecision on both parts was excellently calibrated. I could understand Julie’s hesitance of getting involved with Tommy considering his offhand behavior before. Plenty of steamy scenes but the emotional connections were pretty spectacular between these two characters. The book ended beautifully and in my opinion was one of the best romance endings I’ve read in quite a while.
Loved this story. There was a strong friendship turned into hot lovers. But is the fighting more important to Tommy than Julie. He nearly loses her but redeems himself in the end.
4.5 Stars I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Extreme Love, and have really been looking forward to reading Fighting Love. I would like to mention that this is a companion novel and can easily be read as a stand alone. There is just something about MMA fighters that draws me in, kind of the way books about rock stars does. I also love stories about friends turning into lovers. Throw in a hot, sexy, bad boy and I'm hooked. Tommy Sparks and Julie Rogers have been best friends since they were kids. He's loves her and is fiercely protective of her, but has had her in the "friend zone" all their lives, where as Julie has been totally in love with Tommy since she was 10 years old, enduring the joy of having him as a best friend and the pain of watching him as a player and with other women, while being side-lined and playing second string for years because she doesn't want to lose their friendship. Tommy has never handled fame well and it's cost him big time. When a tragic fire causes him to lose everything he has left, he moves in with Julie until he can find a new place. Suddenly the whole dynamic of their relationship begins to change. She's acutely aware of his presence and Tommy begins to have thoughts that are not "friend zone" material about Julie that both freak him out and turn him on. When Julie begins to date another fighter, Tommy realizes he doesn't want her with anything else, a revelation that both scares and excites him. Julie has always wanted Tommy, but as she begins to sense the signals from him changing, she isn't quite sure if she misreading things or not. When thoughts turn into actions and cross the line from the mental arena to the physical one, things really get interesting. Tommy wars with his desires and his worthiness of Julie, while Julie is determined to finish what he's started, which provides for some really hot and humorous situations. Just when things seem to be finally going well, circumstances change and the past threatens to reclaim the present, causing Tommy to face the possibility of losing his BFF and the woman he loves forever. I really enjoyed Fighting Love. I think I liked it even better than Extreme Love. I loved the relationship between Tommy and Julie, which was super hot and romantic, but what I loved best was the way the friendship part of their relationship was emphasized and built upon. Abby Niles did an outstanding job doing that and let that factor be what everything else in their relationship stemmed from, while keeping it front and center the whole time. The romantic aspect was swoon-worthy and the sex was sizzling hot, and I loved the story line itself. Tommy is hot, a total bad boy, cocky, sexy as sin and he know it. I also loved watching Julie come out of her shell as the relationship between them progressed. The book captured my attention from beginning to end. The characters were well written and easy to connect to, while the overall plot was enjoyable and entertaining. Fighting Love is a wonderful contemporary romance that I totally enjoyed and would most definitely recommend to fans of this genre.
Hi. My name is angel. Wanna cht.
This was an exceptionally good love story...a wonderful mixture of friendship, sexy fighters, and love found and acknowledged, at last. I couldn't put this book down!
This was a very enjoyable friends to lovers story and I adored all the sweet moments of friendship that eventually transitioned into some really steamy hot moments as lovers. Julie is my favorite type of heroine, because she is both strong and smart. She has been pining for her best friend for the better part of 23 years, but she also didn't just cave when he started showing affection for her either. Now Tommy annoyed me at times, but I also understood where he was coming from too. He didn't think himself capable of the type of love he felt Julie deserved, so he was fighting really hard and admirably with himself about taking their friendship to the next level. I loved how honest he was about his faults with both his love and professional life, and I really did feel for him in his struggles. Once he gives in though, things between these two heat up super fast! Overall, I really enjoyed this story and I hope we get to read Mac or Brody's stories next! *I received an ARC from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Entangled Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review. I enjoyed this book and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. It was a quick, easy read. According to Goodreads, this is the second book in a series. I have not read the prior book in the series and did not feel lost or like I missed any part of a greater story arc at any time. This book can definitely be read as a stand alone book. Tommy and Julie have been best friends for 23 years. Tommy has hit a rough patch in his life at the start of the book. Not only has he been banned from MMA fighting, having once held the championship belt, his house burns down and all of his possessions are gone. He calls Julie to help him and she invites him to stay at her home. Julie values her friendship with Tommy but has always been in love with him. While living together, she decides that she wants to see if there could be something more between them. There are some ups, some downs, some hot steamy sex, some jealousy, some heartbreak, a few memories, and love in the end. At the beginning of the book, I felt myself liking the heroine over the Hero. Tommy had lost a lot because of the party boy lifestyle he adapted after winning the title. He was determined to keep Julie, his one true friend, firmly in the friend zone. Meanwhile Julie was loyal and patient and told him things he needed to hear even when he did not want to. Once the couple started having a romance, I found myself switching side. Tommy seemed like the one determined to make things work after he had committed to try but Julie was quick to give up on him just for feeling a bit ignored. It did not ring true to me that Julie would give up so easily after loving Tommy for 23 years. I thought the author wrote the sections from the male perspective very well. I would have liked to have seen more concerning the MMA fights. This was the first book that I read with a MMA fighter character and I would have liked a few more scenes focused on the sport. I also felt that the characters seemed younger than 33 as they were written. I really liked how everything tied together at the end of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance. I plan to look for future book by Abby Niles.