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This is the third book in the Fighting series, and as much as I am loving being immersed in the lives of these characters, the feels were kicked up a notch with this one, and there is something truly special about this book. From the earlier books in the series, we know that there is something between Mac and Rex, but it’s not until this book that the full extent of their connection is fully explored, and OMG! This story broke me and healed me and broke me and healed me all over again. I swooned, I laughed and I cried, and I absolutely loved it!
“To every child who waited for a savior that never came.”
Mac waitresses at a bar in Vegas where the UFC fighters of the series all hang out, and it’s also the bar where Rex and his band, Ataxia, regularly play. Mac’s presence there is no coincidence as she has moved to town with one goal – to find Rex. Mac and Rex knew each other as children, except then she was Gia, an 8-year-old who cared deeply for a brutalised 10-year-old-boy. They were both in a desperate and tragic situation – one that was so traumatising that it has left Rex without any memory of it, or of the little girl who was always there for him. Gia is in town to check on Rex, to make sure he is ok, and to atone for the guilt she feels for all that he went through.
On the surface Rex has it all – a promising career with the UFC, a successful band that is going places, great friends and any woman he could want. But the reality is that he is broken. He is plagued by nightmares of a past he can’t remember, he has serious issues when it comes to sex and intimacy, and his need for control in all things means he lives an isolated life. He has the support and friendship of his bandmates and the boys he fights with, but he never lets anybody too close, and nobody knows the real him, or the pain that he both craves and despises.
The pain is all I have. It’s the only thing that reminds me I can still feel. It may be sick and insane, but it’s real.
Though Gia has been watching Rex for a while, he keeps to himself and hasn’t really noticed her, but when he finally does, he feels drawn to her in a way he has never experienced before. There is a physical attraction that takes him by surprise, but there’s also wonderful chemistry between them and as they get to know each other that only builds as they laugh together, get to know each other, and genuinely enjoy each other as their feelings grow, and the sexual tension sizzles. And though Rex is alpha through and through, there’s a sense of innocence about him which is beautifully written. Neither of them have been in a relationship before, and Rex is experiencing these feelings all for the first time, and it was just gorgeous watching it all happen for them.
Gia didn’t try to fight my demons, make them bow or wrestle them into submission. She embraced them, accepted them as part of me, loved me despite them and arguably even loved them. And it’s that love and acceptance that quieted them, soothed them, and kept them compliant. After all, what is evil if it has nothing to fight.
She could be it. My cure.
But through all of the bliss of what they are experiencing, Gia’s secret is tearing her apart. She wants so badly to tell Rex about their connection and about the things she knows about his past which remain a mystery to him, but as he begins to open up to her she battles with the right thing to do. Does she reveal the horrors of his past, or does she let him be and continue drawing him into the light?
Usually I’m not one for keeping secrets, but I could truly understand Gia’s battle with the right thing to do. Her memories of the past absolutely broke my heart, and Rex’s situation is certainly a unique one that has left its mark on him. My heart ached for the position that she was in. The outcome may seem inevitable, but one of the things I loved about this book was that so much of it took me by surprise. There were twists and turns, and things happened that I wasn’t expecting, and I loved the unpredictability. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching, but I could not stop reading, desperate to see how it was all going to play out.
“I’m never letting you go, baby. You’ve been a part of me for as long as I can remember and I’m never letting you go.”
And these characters! OMG, I have so much love for them! They have both been through hell, but their strength and determination is astounding. Rex’s brokenness and vulnerability makes you just want to hold him (among other things). He goes through so much, and there is so much devastation, but the way he deals with it and the fact that he even has the strength to keep going is amazing. And Gia is incredible. Her loyalty and unquestionable love for Rex just blew me away, and despite all that she has been through and all that she remembers, she is still able to live her life with passion and enthusiasm, and to be there for Rex in exactly the way that he needs her. I could feel her protectiveness and her absolute devotion to him, and I loved her so much for that. Her journey in this book broke my heart but she is an absolutely amazing character. I loved that the story is written in dual POV so we get to know them both so well, and I loved how each chapter began with lyrics or quotes from them which give so much insight into all that they are feeling.
There’s so much to say, every time we’re together.
But the fear and pain seem to go on forever.
Every night that you come, whispered words spoken.
You calm my soul, and in the moment, I’m not broken.
This is not a light and fluffy read. There are a lot of triggers (child abuse, sexual abuse, drug use), but they work to build the emotion and to truly suck you into the lives of these characters and allow you to feel what they are going through, which I absolutely did. But along with that, there is the incredible romance which is just gorgeous. It’s complex – sweet, fun, angsty and dramatic, incredibly passionate and wholly heartfelt – but it’s everything that these characters are, and I loved every twisty, heart-pounding moment of it.
“I was put on this earth to love you. Deep down to the core of my soul I’ve always known it. There may be someone else for you, but you’ve always been it for me.”
And then of course, there’s the lightness that comes with the brotherhood of the UFC boys. They are a great bunch, and their teasing and playfulness brings a great sense of fun to the story, and I loved their camaraderie. And of course, I loved catching up with the previous couples of the series, and how their stories are all tying in together.
I am loving this series! It is very quickly becoming a go-to for heartfelt, emotional and steamy romance, but this one is a definite favourite, and I absolutely loved it!
You’re love’s my safety net.
Keeps me from memories that destroy.
Gives me strength when I’m fighting to forget.
The Fighting Series
Fighting for Honor (#6.5) (Caleb & Honor – crossover with Harper Sloan’s Hope Town series)
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