Friday, February 6, 2015

review || BELOW THE BELT { blog tour } theme this week? Not having my laptop when putting together posts. I can't upload pictures appropriately from work computers :( I will try to fix within the morning hours.

Below the Belt by Sydney Halston

Publisher: Loveswept (2/10/2015)
Series: Worth the Fight, book 3
Genre: Sport Romance
Source: Tasty Book Tours/NetGalley
Purchase links || Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo || add to goodreads


In Sidney Halston’s latest sizzling MMA romance, a former title contender turns the tables on his knockout trainer with a lesson in seduction.

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio“Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?

Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.

about Sidney || Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain, or even simpler, “Just Do It” Nike.

And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red, among four other novels currently in the works, including the sequel to Seeing Red. That first pen stroke sealed the deal and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children. She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading… She’s a reader first and a writer second.

When she’s not writing or reading her life is complete and utter chaos trying to balance family life with work, and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
connect with Sidney || Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
{ review } .

Here is a book that I thought for sure I would not make it through... But stay with me, here.
*I have also not had the opportunity to read the previous books, so I wasn't in any way invested in the series.
I don't believe in "DNF" books. I will always at least skim them -- at some point, there's usually some sort of catch that will finally drag me into the storyline. BELOW THE BELT was a bit of a toss up for me. I liked it from the get-go, but after a few chapters I found my attention sliding away... but then that big meathead had to go and be a pretty sweet, decent guy, and I found myself drawn in.
Tony was a bit too tough, too mean, too much a smart-mouthed muscle man for my liking. I didn't care for his hotheaded ways (which, to be fair, were mostly spurred on by an intense jealousy that he wasn't prepared for)... but then he'd go and have some really flippin' sweet moments.
"Because the future is you. It's you by my side, as my wife. My future is you and kids and four ridiculously named cats, but you have to love me first. And that scares the shit out of me. You can't even admit you like me." 
I mean, c'mon... the man's allergic to cats and he is the proud owner of Cinderella, Bella, and Ariel...
And then there was Francesca -- she was a bit of an oxymoron. Pre-gym, she was Frankie -- the tomboy with the smart mouth. Post-divorce, she became Frances -- a well-put together female with all of her eggs in the basket. Tony's the only one to call her Francesca -- to which she admits once is an annoying thing that Tony does... but nothing really is said beyond that.
I do, however, appreciate that her failed marriage didn't play a huge roll in the story. Yes, it played to some degree, but it wasn't the reason for hard feelings (aside from a moment of jealousy, of course) and the fall-out that happens in every romance story.
I think the biggest theme for this story is Francesca took a chance on Tony by signing him to her gym -- she fought for him to be a part of WtF and paid a pretty penny for him, and when he slacks off and fails to train, her biggest fear is the failure of the gym. It's no wonder, in my opinion, that she doesn't want to take a chance on Tony -- initially.
...but she fails to try and take a chance on Tony when he starts to get his act together, and that is Tony's fight to try and win.
I have to admit, there were times that I found myself cracking up...
"Dude, you keep forgetting those x's. Sesual? No wonder she doesn't want to kiss you," Slade joked.
"You're just jealous," Tony shot back, exaggerating his accent. "Women love a man with an accent. Isn't that right, ladies?"
Jessica, Chrissy, and Violet all giggled and nodded, but Francesca was already up and walking away. "Be right back. Going to tidy up a bit," she said over her shoulder, her voice sounding strange.
"Yeah, an accent, not a speech impediment, brother," Slade said. 
...and swooning...
Tony took the arm that was draped over her face, kissed the palm of her hand, and placed it on the bed. He wanted to see her eyes. The same hazel eyes that had possessed him for the last five months. "Please, don't be scared with me. It kind of hurts my heart."
Oh, and no worries, there was more swooning...
"You're going to be okay, you know? But you need to start finding some happy medium between Frances and Frankie, because otherwise no will ever get to know the real you, and cariƱo, the real you is someone people should know. The real you is an incredibly strong woman with a big soft heart."  
But no worries, that hot-head is still in there, he's just a bit love sick...
"Maybe you're so damn frustrated with your feelings that you act out--and on my fucking car!--instead of just saying what you want to actually say, which is, 'Tony, I love you and I got jealous.' Just fucking say it! Don't you get it? You're fucking hurting me! Every time you don't tell me how you feel, you're breaking my damn heart!"
I absolutely loved when Tony was sick with the flu... I don't know what it is (because let me tell you, in real life a man who is sick acting like a child is not a turn on), but reading these strong males completely down and out by a bug (like Rocco in HART ATTACK) is cute to me. When he ate Francesca's nasty soup, that he could smell was not good from rooms away, was telling to me -- he finally had someone who he didn't want to hurt. It was incredibly humourous when his mom comes in and blurts out Francesca's soup was certainly not soup, that she'd take care of her baby.

Tony has strong females in his life -- his mom and sisters are all very strong ladies. It's only appropriate, then, that he'd fall for an equally strong woman, and Francesca is certainly that.
Knowing the story, now, that I do, I have absolutely no qualms about reading the story again -- and I'm sure I'll like it even better the second time -- especially because I love when the lead male falls head over heels, truly completely in love, before the female does. just took me a bit to get over Tony and his smart-mouth.
And back to that little blurb I wrote about not being invested in the series?
...I'm totally there now.

Catch other reviews & goodies on the
rest of the BELOW THE BELT tour.
{ giveaway } .