Grade – A
Hotness Level – Inferno
Kink Level – None
Genre – Contemporary
Series – Battered Hearts #1
Reviewed by Anne
Melody is a dirt poor waitress making a new start in a new town after escaping her abusive ex-husband. Clay is a UFC champion. He’s big, grumpy, and doesn’t have many friends in the small town he grew up in and trains in. Then Melody buys him a piece of pumpkin pie when she sees him eating alone on Thanksgiving. He’s so taken with her that he attempts to choke down the pie, even though pumpkin pie literally makes him gag. No one thinks these two belong together, but they can’t stay away from each other.
There are so many things I liked about this story! It’s going on my Best of 2013 list. Clay is a really sweet guy. A huge man who tends to be grumpy and enjoys beating up his best friend in the name of training. He sees Melody struggling financially, tired from all the shifts she’s working at the restaurant and he wants to help her. When she refuses his help, he respects that. He tries to work around her, but he gives in when she insists she wants to make her own way.
Melody is a hard working woman trying to rebuild her life away from her abusive ex-husband. She’s smart enough to check in with the sheriff when she gets in to town to let him know about the restraining order she has. She knows absolutely nothing about UFC fighting, but is happy for Clay that he’s found success at something. She’s simple and straightforward in her thinking without tons of angst, which was refreshing!
I really enjoy a book about an unfolding relationship without a lot of extra drama and conflict brought in to the story, and this one fit the bill for me. The UFC fighters’ violence, even just hanging around reminded me of Shelly Laurenston’s shifters in a good way. I think I enjoy the violence in a fantasy way after spending so much time with my kids advocating for peace and gentleness. I’d have a hard time hanging out with people who broke each others’ noses in real life, but I enjoy it in a book.
The story really worked overall for me, but there are some issues that might put others off. In particular, Melody is described as having survived years of physical and emotional abuse, but she has surprisingly few issues that bother her. In the middle of the story Melody makes a decision that borderline TSTL, but it works out ok. Melody leaves Clay for a while and he’s terribly broken up about it – it reminded me of Bella after Edward left! I was very frustrated with Bella, but I thought Clay was cute. It’s possible I have some gender bias issues.
I have to put in a mention that this story featured a positive foster care experience. That always adds bonus points for me!
And then there’s the sex. Hot. Really well written! Really.
This book was published in 2011, but somehow it never crossed my radar until now. I can’t believe how much I liked it! I’m anxious to read the next book in the series (Star Crossed) to see if I have a new favorite author!