Author: Carol Lynne
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Received from Publisher
Blurb: For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage. On the south side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard. Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug addicted mother made it too dangerous to return home.
Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out, giving Lucky a piece of advice: if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted. Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control.
After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news. With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray. Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight, or walk away like he did years earlier?
Review: This book focuses on a lot of abuse. I don’t think I really understood just how much until I got into the book. From the blurb I thought it was a romance about fighters who had a history of abuse. Which it was of course but the abuse and neglect of kids in the area seemed to be the main focus. I was drawn into the book in the beginning. Lucky’s story is sad. The books starts out with him as a kid and transitions to adulthood. His mother is an addict who doesn’t properly care for her. Abuses him. And has men coming in and out of their lives. Lucky finds the Brick Yard one day while looking in dumpsters for food. He had no idea that would be his savior. The owner, Brick, is gruff and not exactly fatherly but his history leads him to feel the need to care for kids that aren’t in great situations. He offers Lucky a place to stay when things get bad at home. This is where Dray enters the picture. Dray is a promising young fighter on his way to the MMA until his lover outs him to the ugly homophobic fans. Dray runs away from the spotlight leaving his career as a fighter behind. Fast forward a few years and Lucky is the fighter with a chip on his shoulder. When his mentor, Brick becomes ill, it forces Dray back into the picture.
I liked the premise of this book. The idea that a bunch of rough men with ugly pasts want to pay it forward in helping the next group of kids survive their awful parents. This of course brings on a lot of sad stories. It gets pretty heavy. There’s a ton of angst. I had a tiny bit of a problem with the couple. They go from kid and adult crush to insta lust and love pretty quickly upon the reunion. Dray getting hard over fighting videos or phone calls with someone he knew as a kid was a little much for me personally. Of course I’m not a fan of insta love at all. The transition was non existent. It was jolting.
I liked the first half of the book. I enjoyed the journey with the guys falling for each other and figuring it out. The struggle with losing the only father figure the guys ever knew. The end was a bit too much for me however. It went from major angst to super sweet altruistic happily ever after. Nothing bad but the last quarter really lagged for me. Basically both men start out as fighters in the ring but ultimately the story of this book is more about them fighting their way through the crappy hand life has dealt them. Worth the read if you know what you’re getting when you pick it up.