**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD**
What happens when in order to win, you’re forced to lose?
The only daughter of an infamous Las Vegas pimp, Raven Morretti grew up an outsider. Liberated from the neglectful home of her prostitute mother, she finds solace as a mechanic. With few friends, she’s content with the simple life. Flying under the radar is all she knows, and more than she expects.
Until she catches the eye of local celebrity, UFL playboy Jonah Slade.
Weeks away from his title fight, Jonah is determined to stay focused on everything he’s trained so hard to achieve. Undefeated in the octagon, he’s at the height of his career. But resisting Raven’s effortless allure and uncomplicated nature is a fight he can’t win.
Jonah trades in his bad-boy reputation and puts his heart on the line. But when her father contacts her, setting in motion the ugly truth of her destiny, Jonah must choose. In a high-stakes gamble where love and freedom hang in the balance, a war is waged where the price of losing is a fate worse than death.
Will the hotheaded Jonah be able to restrain his inner fighter to save the woman he loves?
Or will Raven be forced into a life she’s been desperate to avoid?
This was a great book. It had all the elements that I love. Extremely hot fighter, world weary girl, love, angst, drama. The writing style was great and the author brought everything together smoothly and tied up all loose ends at the end of the book. I connected with the characters and it also had great supporting characters. It was definitely a book that I couldn't put down even though I was forced to at time. The story will stay with me for a few days.
Raven is the daughter of a prostitute and an infamous pimp. She was never wanted and never loved. She moved away from her mother 2 years ago and lives above the garage where she works as a mechanic. She is beautiful with aqua blue eyes and long black hair. she has a tattoo that reaches from her hip to her shoulder. She's about to turn 21.
Jonah is a fighter who is about to fight for the championship. He's well over 6 feet tall, broad shouldered, black hair, hazel eyes and has a deep, sexy voice. He has tattoos all over him. He's a womanizer dead set against commitment. He wants no part of that life until the moment he meets Raven. He has a temper. He's fiercely protective and possessive. He's 26.
The book begins 21 years prior. Raven is born and handed off to a mysterious man we later learn is her father. Her mother wouldn't even hold her.
“When God hands you a gift, you don’t push it away and tell him ‘later’.”
Raven and Jonah meet at the garage where she works. They have an instant connection even before they meet. He is looking to have someone restore a car in his garage. She agrees and begins working on it. Even though he's against commitment and he's only met her once before she shows up at his house to work he wants to know her better. Jonah is in trouble and he knows it. His fight is the main priority and he can't loose focus but there is something about this girl that keeps him drawn to her. From the first day it's easy conversation and comfortable silence. As they work day to day he realizes he's he's got it bad for this girl he barely knows.
So now he knows he has a choice to make. Does he let her go before something happens or does he begin a relationship with her...relationship it is. He invites her to a barbecue at his house and it's there we begin to see his possessive side. He doesn't want other guys anywhere near her. He doesn't like anyone talking about her either. His best friend Blake hits on her and he almost looses it. He realizes once he calms down that he loves her. Instalove.
He finds out about her past and who her father is. He wants her to stay away from him. He's fine with the past and they start a new relationship and everything is going great. She sleeps at his house at night, they talk throughout the day. Everything is great until she receives a phone call. Her dad wants to meet with her. She's never been in his life and she's curious. After they fight about it he tells her that he's worried because he loves her and then she tells him she loves him too.
The meeting between her and her father makes me sick. The man is purely evil. His whole plan was to "breed" with her mother to produce the next generation of prostitutes. He wants her to work for him. She refuses but he won't let let her. He gives her until her 21st birthday (a few weeks) to say her goodbye's and tie up loose ends and then she'll move into one of his apartments. She has to do what he says or he will slowly kill everyone she loves.
Jonah tries for hours to get in touch with her and when he can't he and a buddy go to her apartment. He bangs on the door but she refuses to open it. His buddy kicks the door down. Jonah finds her in the fetal position on her bed crying. He holds her for hours and then she wakes up in his bed. She overhears a conversation between Jonah and his friend. They seem to be talking about him breaking up with her. The next morning he leaves in what looks like a break up asking her to stay the night with her friend Eve. He's got a plan and he needed to make sure she was safe.
Her parents have neglected her her entire life and she's never had anyone taken care of her. But now that she's met Jonah, she's finally found someone who's willing to fight for her. Someone who's willing to give everything up, just so they can be together. She doesn't realize this though. She still hasn't heard from him that night and she see's his truck in the parking lot of a strip club where the stripper before her works. He's there for a meeting with her father. He's willing to give up everything for her to gain her freedom. In exchange for that freedom he has to throw his title fight and loose. This is his dream and he agrees without any hesitation.
I would give up anything for her, including my life’s dream. She’s my dream now.
He's angry when he leaves and needs Raven. He calls her but she's angry thinking he has left her and went straight into the arms of another woman. They get into a heated argument over the phone and she hangs up on him by telling him goodbye. He has no intention of letting her go that easily. He drives all over town looking for her and then finally sits at her house until she comes home. They have it out in the driveway. She tells him what she saw and he's completely confused. He explains what he was doing at the club and then she lets him take her home. Once he has her back in his home he explains everything about the meeting and what he's going to do about the fight.
“So, you’re going to lose your fight? On purpose?”
“But . . . you've been waiting so long for this fight. How can you give it up so easily?”
“Simple. I've been waiting longer for you.”
After his declaration he takes her virginity and he's extremely sweet in the way he does it. After that night they spend all of their free time together, falling more in love while he's trying to retrain himself to loose a fight. A night of clubbing with her best friend Eve turns out badly and one of her dad's goons ends up getting the crap beat out of him buy Jonah when he shows up while the guy is trying to take off with Raven. He almost kills the guy until Raven stops him.
The night before the fight their is a dinner for the fighting organization. A woman fighter kisses Jonah causing all sorts of trouble in which Raven almost gets in a fight. We meet the guy who is fighting against Jonah and watch Jonah almost get in a fight. Then we get to see our first glimpse of the woman who is Raven's mom. Raven unloads on the woman in front of everyone but Jonah takes her home. The next morning we meet Jonah's mom and she falls in love with her. He proposes but she won't say yes because she doesn't want to discuss a future until after the fight fearing that a future may not exist. He's dead set on not losing her, he's willing to do whatever he has to. He'd give up the world to be with her so he doesn't see any issues with the fight.
Fight night comes and he's ready. Things are going well until the other guy hits him in the face. He flips the switch loosing the battle with his anger and takes the guy down and wins the championship. Her friend never showed up to the fight and we find out that her dad has him and to keep him alive she has to be taken to him by the stripper from the club. She's kidnapped and taken to a cabin in the woods.
Jonah knows he's in trouble and he's devastated. Once Blake calms him down enough to look for her he realizes that she's gone. His mind is made up and he's going after her. He doesn't care who he has to kill to get it done. Blake is on board and they head to her mother's house. Her mother tells him where to find her and apparently has always cared about her daughter.
At the house the goon tries to rape Raven and she breaks his arm using the move that Jonah taught her. Jonah and Blake get to the house. He's shot in the shoulder while getting in the house but not seriously injured. They are in a stand off when Raven tells him what Vince tried to do to her. All bets are off at this point. He shoots Vince in a very sensitive spot. Raven's mom shows up fighting for the daughter she was never there for but always loved. Raven waited her entire life for her mom to love her only to realize she always has and now she's ready to fight. Jonah lunges at her dad and Blake tries to get her and her mother out of the house but she refuses to leave. She gets the gun and kills her father. Jonah rushes to her and crushes her to him and tells her he loves her. The Calvary shows up but Jonah won't let her out of his sight.
At the hospital Jonah has to have surgery to repair his shoulder and then she crawls into bed with him and sleeps. She wakes up the next morning with an engagement ring on her finger. He asks her to marry him now that they have a future and she says yes.
“Raven, I fell in love with you the second I saw you. I thought I had my life mapped out, thought I had it together. Then you came along and flipped my world on its head. You make me want things I never knew I needed. This ring is more than a symbol of my love. It represents family. Our family. The one we’ll build together. You said you didn't want to talk about our future until you knew we had a future to talk about. Well, now we do. So? Will you marry me?”
The epilogue happens two months later. All of her father's assets will be liquidated and the money is hers. She's using it to open shelters for former prostitutes wanting to start over. They are at the reception following their wedding. Raven's mom is the mom she always wanted. The tattoo on his chest which was missing the name of his future wife now has her name placed right above his heart.
This book was great. I'm giving it 4.5 stars. The only complaint that I have was that it was a little long in places. Other than that it was perfect. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a romance book about a fighter. I have a spot for them so I read anything and everything having to do with MMA. Read it, you won't be disappointed!
“You feel that? Every beat pounding away? You do that to me.” “You’re part of me now. I’d do anything for you. I’ll fight for your life as I’d fight for my own.”
“Baby, I promise you that you’ll never want for physical contact again. I’ll always hold you when you’re scared. Comfort you when you’re sad. Take care of you when you’re sick. I’ll make it my life’s mission to make up for every second you were neglected.”
“It’s funny, this thing between us. Every concern or emotion we feel, it’s mutual. “Here you’re thinking I’m saving you, when all this time it’s been you who saved me.”
“I was cold. Dead on the inside from the time I heard about my dad’s accident. Never felt anything outside of kicking ass or a killer hit in the octagon. Fighting gave me my breath, but you brought me back to life. This whole time I thought I was living. But the day I met you, the lights came on. You fill me with things I thought I’d never feel again. You’re my angel, baby.”