Review: Against the Ropes

against the ropesReviewed by Shelly

The cover enticed me, then I read the premise and I was sold. What I got and what I expected were two very different things. Sarah Castille’s story started out so promising. The heroine was strong without being dominant, sweet without being sugary, funny without being obnoxious but somewhere along the line – actually about midway through– things started falling apart for me.

Makayla’s best friend, Amanda, needs some help selling tickets for a MMA club. Needing the extra money, as her job in the admissions department at a local hospital doesn’t pay enough to cover her school loans, Makayla decides to help out Amanda. Interestingly enough, Makayla also has a problem witnessing violence; this plays such a big part of the story that I’m still questioning why she would continue to be a part of the fight scene, but I digress. Once she’s at the fight club doing her job, she meets Torment. Torment is the club owner and a fighter himself. He’s in need of someone to help with first aid and as Makayla is an EMT – fighters, meet your new healer.

As I mentioned, Makayla started out as such a wonderfully fun character for me to read. She had such great wit about the world around her and her self-deprecating humor made me laugh out loud quite a few times; I started building a nice little comfy place where I’m actually in-sync with her thoughts and motivation for her actions. Once her romance with Torment started things started going downhill for me. The interaction between the two didn’t blend and flow well. I found myself not even caring one wee willy bit about when they’re together. Yes, the sex was hot and plentiful but this is a pretty long (~368 pages) book and outside the bedroom this couple still needs to get to know each other. That’s where my confusion still lies.

For instance, Makayla has a school debt that she’s attempting to pay and we all know that debt collectors can be pretty persistent if not downright rude, but is there any reason that their entire (long) conversations are detailed for me to know about? Nope, I’m good with you telling me that the persistent phone calls are stressing out the heroine. There were other parts of Makayla’s life where I didn’t need to know the details when what I really just want to know about was Torment and her relationship with him. Maybe a little bit about her family and her past would have been nice too. Speaking of Torment — his real name is Max and he’s a ‘venture capitalist’ with a speckled past. In case you’re wondering, yes he’s a millionaire. There’s a little bit of a back story about his family and the rationale for his tattoos that I still don’t understood. There was one small window of opportunity to find out about his past but that got brushed over really quickly. I really wish I knew more about him because maybe I would have actually liked him but I didn’t and I don’t.

Just in case I didn’t say why I couldn’t be on Max’s side – he’s really really alpha male, way too much for me. Worse yet, he’s very controlling of Makayla actions both in and out of the bedroom and I had a big problem with Makayla’s easy acceptance of it. Part of my issue is that Makayla’s had some abuse in her past, specifically around violence, and it just amazed me that she was so accepting of Max’s ways in and outside of the fight club.

Surprisingly to me, I liked Amanda a lot more than I thought I would. She’s got some really screwed up ways about guys but she was a good friend to Makayla. Her relationship, or non-relationship, with Jake was a welcome subplot that contributed to me finishing this story.

I’m not saying it’s a bad story because the premise is really good and there are some good parts, but I think that some editing could take this story from being an okay read to a good read.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

*ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon

Against the Ropes
by Sarah Castille
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

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