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4.5 out of 5
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  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    Excellent

    This is an excellent read and the third book in the WtF series from this author although it can most definitely be read as a stand alone. The writing is great and even though this couple, Tony and Francesca, are not my favorites in the books, the author did a great job a writing a story that made me enjoy them and pull for their HEA. Tony is a veteran MMA fighter who is at the end of his career. His partying and womanizing have taken a toll on his body and reputation but the WtF Academy is willing to give him another chance. Francesca is the hard as nails woman who runs the gym for her father, she plans on turning Tony around and reaping the financial rewards from his big comeback. These two are perfect for each other and this story is fantastic! I highly recommend it.
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    An emotionally complicated and steamy romance!!!

    Antonio "Scarface" Marino, MMA fighter, signed a contract and was training at WtF Academy of which Francesca Silva was half owner. From the moment he laid eyes on her, he wanted her. He was persistent but she always turned him down, until one day she didn't. I really like the story. I think there was just a tiny bit too much indecision and flip flopping in the relationship and uncontrollable jealousy but it was still a great read. Let me just say that there was NO abuse of any kind in this story. I love MMA fighter stories. All that testosterone in one place is enough to make a girl sigh. Francesca is one bad ass woman and it takes an equally bad ass man to make her his. Between her issues from a past relationship and his hot Cuban temper and jealousy, they both have some tough struggles ahead of them. Their chemistry is undeniable and they make each other laugh, which is very importat! Rome was not built in a day and neither is their complicated steamy romance. This is my first foray into the Worth the Fight series with book 3 and I can't wait to go back and read books 1 and 2. I was not compensated for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed is my own.
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    Hot, angsty, sweet

    If Tony has any chance of salvaging his flagging career, he's got to get himself together, train hard, and stop getting distracted by booze, barfights, and women. But that's a lot easier said than done when his new boss is a fiesty, tough as nails bombshell with legs that won't quit. The Verdict: I have to be honest; it took me a while to warm up to both Francesca and Tony, and for a while there, I wondered if I should just move on to the next book. But after a while, more of their personalities were explained, and the occasional glimpses at their vulnerabilities led to my liking them a whole hell of a lot. Francesca (or Frankie or Frances, depending on who you ask) is 99% ice queen. She dresses the part of sexy business woman, but that's just it — she's all business. She doesn't really socialize outside of work, seems to care only about making the center a success, and has her walls up so high that she's practically two-dimensional. Tony, on the other hand, is all machismo. Francesca is a challenge he can't seem to overcome, and no amount of flirting or innuendo works with her. His idea of flirting, however, is more along the lines of sexual harassment, and his lack of concern for pretty much everything else was quite irritating for a while. But then things began to change. Francesca isn't the strong, cold woman she projects. In fact, she's very much still affected by the ugly end of her first real relationship, and she's so terrified of being hurt again, so convinced she's lacking, that she lives a passionless and solitary life. And while Tony is very definitely the dirty-minded lothario he comes across as, he's also incredibly considerate and more than willing to be patient and gentle with Francesca when she gives him even a hint of a shot with her. But even though they both began to show hidden sides that were instantly intriguing, they didn't completely change, which made me love them even more. Tony was rough around the edges and easily provoked into jealousy. And Francesca was still incredibly strong and capable, never hesitating to stand up to Tony's often Neanderthal ways. It's what made them so perfect for each other even after they'd gotten past the major hurdles. While Full Contact may have have given Jessica a happily ever after following her escape from an abusive relationship, Below the Belt is the one about characters with more emotional damage, and while I certainly loved the previous two books, Tony and Francesca's story seemed to delve much deeper. It's a hot, angsty, sweet journey for two characters who are absolutely made for each other. ***FicCentral received this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley) for free in exchange for an honest review.
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    Stands alone, but best if read in order * 3.7

    Below the Belt (Worth the Fight, # 3) by Sidney Halston February 10, 2015 288 pages, approximately Romance: Contemporary, Sports ** Provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review. ** -- From the Cover -- In Sidney Halston’s latest sizzling MMA romance, a former title contender turns the tables on his knockout trainer with a lesson in seduction. Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch? Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat. This is a hard one for me to rate and review. It is quite obviously a later book in a series, as evidenced by most of the characters already having a history with one another, including our two main characters. It CAN stand alone and the author DOES do a pretty good job at trying to fill in some of the back stories, but it would have been greatly beneficial to read the previous books prior to this, I think. Antonio is a testosterone-laden hothead who has a few redeeming moments here and there, but I had a hard time really liking him, let alone falling for him. Francesca seems to wall herself off from others while portraying herself to be completely independent and strong, seemingly incapable of feeling emotion. The secondary characters are an interesting mixture, including the stereotypical hyper-aggressive Chihuahua. The dialogue and interaction is mostly good, but there are times that I just want to smack both of them for the crap that comes out of their mouths. It's a bit frustrating. The flow of writing is smooth, but the plot is a bit flat. While the cover caught my eye and plot initially grabbed me, compelling me to read it, the overall journey was not as dynamic as I'd hoped it would be. The conflicts that the plot is ridden with are usually resolved in mature and timely manners. There was little predictability and the hero and heroine get a solidly concluded ending. There is a slight opening / lead-in for Cain and Violet's story to pick up next. -------------------- Heat Level: 4 -------------------- Score: 3.7 Stars: 4 -------------------- Tina J @ Unbound Passion Reviewing for: Smut Book Junkie Reviews -and- Tangled Hearts and Boxer Briefs
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