Rating: ★★★ + .5 | 6 hours 52 minutes | Tantor Media | Contemporary | Kissing #2| 7/25/2015
Strap in, this is going to be a long one !
If I made a spectrum of combat sport books it would start with books like Jeanette Murray’s Below The Belt on one end–noble military boxing team–and books like Punching and Kissing on the complete opposite.
Like complete opposite
When both of their parents die, Sylvie and her brother Alec do everything to survive on their own. To make money Alec enters The Pit, an illegal underground bareknuckle boxing club. When one of Alec’s fights leaves him in a coma, Sylvie volunteers to fight in his place. Sylvie’s never so much as swung a punch, but if she doesn’t fight in his place the fight organizer will kill Alec. She seeks out Aiden, an Irish dockworker who was once a deadly legend in The Pit, and begs him to prepare her for her fight.
That synopsis is what got me into this book, I wanted to get away from the party line of MMA romances where the innocent heroine just dates a big bad fighter. I liked the idea of the heroine having to get in the ring and I wanted to see how far this book would go with her fighting….and it goes there.
This book has a lot of flaws and I mean a lot of flaws; the writing can be really cringe-y, the sex scenes were awful and the plot is over the top but overall….I still really liked this story and I feel like if it was a little bit tighter this could be a 5 star review.
One of the problems I have with contemporary romance is the lack of stakes. Generally the only thing at stake is personal happiness. This book has stakes to the 10th power. Because it’s like first Sylvie just has to fight another female fighter and then it’s like no, wait she has to fight a male rapist, THEN it’s like no wait, she has fight the hero, to the death ! And ooh, if they don’t do it the owner of The Pit is just going to shoot one of them.
During training, Aiden has to hit Sophie in the face and it gets real. It’s not a line you expect to get crossed and it’s kind of jarring. Speaking of Aiden, he has a pretty violent past that involves hurting innocent people and honestly I’m not sure if he deserves an HEA or redemption without answering for his crimes.
I’m a fan of Lucy River’s cool feminine voice that is perfect for romances with younger characters but River’s struggles with Aiden’s Irish accent and her co-narrator Christian Fox wasn’t much better with the accent. That said Fox is still one of my top male narrators, he is really good at changing the tone and bass in his voice.
Punching and Kissing is like Creed meets Million Dollar Baby meets crazy pants suspense romance.
– Spoilers –
Okay, I have to talk about the final scenes in this book because it’s just so bananas over the top. So, the coke addict runner of the fight club makes Sylvie and Aiden fight to the death. Aiden decides he is going to sacrifice himself and tells Sylvie how to kill him in the ring. But she doesn’t want to do that so she basically Romeo and Juliet’s him by secretly taking a paralytic so it looks like she died from his hit. Only the paralytic doesn’t wear off as quickly as she thinks and yada, yada, yada he has her half buried in a shallow grave before she wakes up. Is it bad I was rooting for her to be buried alive ? Not because I didn’t like that character, but because can you imagine ?!