Monday, February 8, 2016

review || FIGHTING SOLITUDE { blog tour } by Aly Martinez

Aly Martinez | February 2, 2016 | Sport Romance
Against the Ropes, book 3


I was born a fighter. Abandoned by my parents, I spent my life forging my own path—one guided by my fists and paved with pain. 

Untouchable in the ring, I destroyed everyone who faced me, but that’s where my victories ended. Outside the ropes, I repeatedly failed the few people who loved me. Including my best friend, Liv James—the one person I’d die to protect. 

Even though I didn’t deserve her, Liv never stopped believing in me. Never gave up. Never let go. After all, she understood what I’d lost, because she’d lost it too. 

Liv was everything to me, but she was never truly mine. 

That was going to change. 

I lost my first love, but I refused to lose my soulmate. 

Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life. 
Fighting to be the man she deserves. 
Fighting the solitude of our pasts. 
Fighting for her.
amazon | bn | itunes

{ about aly martinez } .

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

{ excerpt } .

Fighting Solitude
“Mia!” I shouted.
It was worthless. She’d been deaf since the day I met her.
She’d never once heard my voice.
She’d never heard the deep rumble of my laugh when she was excited, signing so fast I could barely keep up.
She’d never heard my content sigh when she barged into the locker room after a fight—just her presence soothed the lingering madness brewing within me.
She’d never heard me whispering my deepest fears into her ear as she fell asleep on top of me.
She’d never heard the reverence in which I cried her name each and every time I took her body.
And she’d never once heard the ease in which the words I love you tumbled from my lips as I stared into her deep, jade green eyes.
But as I screamed her name while watching her petite body seizing in the passenger seat beside me, I’d never needed her to hear me more.
“Mia. Oh God. I’ve got you, baby.”
She was still thrashing violently as I made my way around to her door, yanking it open while pleading with whatever god was willing to help.
When she stilled, a whole new level of silence filled the air around us. It wasn’t the absence of sound.
It was the absence of life.
“Mia, breathe!” I roared as her chest remained agonizingly still. “Help me!” I screamed at the closed emergency room doors, but no medical savior rushed out with the miracle I so desperately needed.
My hands shook wildly as I released her lifeless body from the seatbelt.
“I’ve got you, just hang on. Please just hang on, Mia,” I whispered lifting her into my arms and sprinting through the sliding doors. “I need a doctor! She’s not breathing!”
Nurses rushed towards me in slow motion as the seconds without air in her lungs passed at a terrifying speed.
A doctor appeared with a gurney and quickly took her from my arms.
The immediate loss was staggering.
Hope became my only solace.
She needed help that I wasn’t capable of giving her, but that didn’t stop me from following close behind as they rolled her away. I was on the verge of self-destructing; letting her out of my sight wasn’t an option.
I stood motionless in the doorway while doctors and nurses swarmed around her. Their mouths moved frantically, but without my hearing aids I was worthless to make out the words their faint voices carried.
I never wore my hearing aids when I was with Mia. There was no point. She rarely spoke with her voice.
We’d spent four years building a relationship with our hands.
Those hands had told me animated stories that made me laugh until my face hurt from smiling.
They’d fought with me relentlessly, but always ended the night raking down my back in silent ecstasy.
Her fingers had fluidly signed I love you more times than I could ever count—or forget.
But as I felt the nurse attempting to physically remove me from the room, my eyes became fixated on her limp hand dangling off the side of the bed. It was the only sight more frightening than watching her flail mid-seizure.
It ripped the heart straight from my chest.
That hand was supposed to be full of life.
It was the very essence of Mia.
Oh God.
Sucking in a deep breath, I held it until the room began to spin.
It provided me no relief even as it forced me to my knees.
There would be no distraction from this.
I was going to lose her.
Yet another woman I couldn’t save.

{ review } .

Every. Single. Day.

In the blink of an eye, life changes -- only to show you you were the one in the dark the entire time.

This was my first Aly Martinez book, and therefore also my first Against the Ropes book. Quarry is the youngest Page boy and his older two are already settled -- and seemingly for a bit. While I was not lost by any means, I found my heart wanted to read the other stories, to experience the troubles that Till and Flint go through. That said, while the true heart of Fighting Solitude is in the present, it does cover fourteen years ago, through chunks of Q and Liv's original friendship, then Q and Mia's relationship, and again as Q and Liv repaired their friendship. Within that time, we see pieces of Till's and Flint's relationships making me feel that there is no way in the world readers of this series were not pining for Quarry and Liv's story.

And I kind of wish I had gotten a chance to watch them grow up through the eldest Pages' eyes. I mean, I will, but it would have been lovely to see it from the beginning and pine for it myself. (& fyi, totally could have; just discovered I own book 1... and as of writing this, I've already read half of it).

I was finally realizing what I should have known fourteen years earlier when I'd first laid eyes on her.
Liv James had never been just my best friend.
No matter what I told myself.
The journey Quarry and Liv go on to reach their happily ever after isn't the easiest. Quarry does things that hurt their friendship, something that will tear Liv away from him for many years. When she comes back, he's met a girl at the hearing impaired school Till and Eliza send him to, and what he has with Mia is extremely special. While I absolutely adored Quarry and Liv, the Mia moments were heartwarming, heartwrenching, and just as lovely. I cried many tears where that girl was concerned, but also where Quarry and Liv are concerned.
I lost my first love, but I refused to lose my soulmate.
-- Quarry Page
Liv and Quarry had a very special friendship. He was her savior, her home, and when he took her fears and forced her, cruelly, to face them, he failed her. As much as she didn't want to like him any longer, Liv couldn't help but still love the boy. Though the years brought many changes, the one thing that never changed, no matter how hard she tried, were her feelings for Quarry.
My Quarry Page switch had been in the off position since the day I'd met Mia. But one night with his hands on me and that switch hadn't just been flipped--it'd been uninstalled.
Going from friends to lovers is a well-known, well-written romance trope -- one that has been seen before in this series, even. But it takes a special author to find a way to make that story feel real and new, and not over done -- such as Ms. Martinez has done here.
"Nothing changes," I whispered, bending to kiss her forehead.

Her eyes closed, but it wasn't in rapture. Her lids were pained, and when they fell, it set off a chain reaction, crumbling her face all the way down to her chin.

"Right," she smarted.

"Stop and listen to me. Everything is absolutely going to change between us. But that's just the details. Me and you. We don't change. Ever. When we walk through this door, we aren't going back to the fucked-up lie of friendship we've been living. We start the real us. We go to bed naked and wake up kissing. But that is the only shit that changes." I lifted her hand to my chest, settling it over my heart. "This doesn't change. It's you and me to the core. I'm not going anywhere, and neither are you. If it happens to you, it happens to me, remember. And this is definitely happening to us. Please don't fight it."
Life is not going to be simple and easy just because they decide to take that jump. There are fighting battles that happen, familial battles that happen, and the ever-looming genetic process that will fully take Quarry's hearing from him. Everything was done extremely well -- the emotion throughout this story was on-par and having me root for Liv and Quarry to overcome these battles and more. One of the spots that I appreciated the most would be that while Quarry is battling the same issues as Till, their journeys are documented for each individual. Quarry's journey is a little bit different than Till's, but while the most heartwrenching moment in Till's journey isn't written out with Quarry's journey, the heartwarming moment is there for Quarry's -- my goodness, thinking about it has me tearing up again!
While Quarry learns to love Liv on his terms (stating that while she may have loved him longer, his love is no less intense -- goodness gracious, man...), Liv learns to trust him again. One of the standout scenes, in my opinion, is one where Quarry is without his hearing aids and Liv tells him her fears -- in spoken word. The anxiety Quarry has when she refuses to sign so he can understand... it was at that moment that I truly believed in the love he had for Liv, as well as understood it wasn't going to be a completely easy journey to trust for Liv. Quarry's honesty throughout the book, especially toward the end with a simple, "Nope," response to an "Are you okay?" question, is a full portrayal of not just the friendship and relationship these two have, but also the years that they've had.
Now... scouring over Ms. Martinez's previously written books, I know that Slate and Erica, faux-parents to the Page boys, and Leo and Sarah, Liv's parents, have books in the earlier Wrecked and Ruined series. With the scenes including (and talking about) little Slate, Blakely (gosh, I love Eliza and her trying to find a way to talk to Till about his little girl growing up), and March, one can only hope (really, really, really hard) that the next generation will get books maybe too. I know I'd be down to read 'em!

{ giveaway } .

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