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My sweet, sexy Penny has a dark side. Just like me.
I will have her. And then I will lose her, and suffer a lifetime of regret.
Rampage. Everyone loves him. He is Redemption’s top heavyweight fighter and the biggest gossip in the gym. But he isn’t the teddy bear everyone thinks he is. He’s hiding a dark secret-and he hates himself for it.
Twice a week, Rampage transforms into Master Jack, a notorious dom only the most hard-core submissives will play with. How can he-a Southern gentleman, bred to respect and protect women-want to dominate them?
But Penny Worthington wants him. Beneath her pearls, kitten heels, and prim British exterior beats a tortured heart…Master Jack is the only one who can set her free.
Rampage tracks me with his gaze as I skirt around the people getting into position on the mat. He is breathtaking in his crisp, white gi, a worn black belt tied tight around his narrow waist. Some of the fighters wear T-shirts under their gis, but I am not so lucky. As I slow to a stop in front of him, I am forced to endure the visual feast of his truly magnificent chest.
Burn cheeks burn. “Um…hi.”
“Penny.” His voice is laced with amusement, thick with his Southern drawl.
“Blade Saw said you needed a partner.” I amaze myself at my ability to form a coherent sentence without collapsing in a puddle on the floor.
“So he sent me a white belt? Did I do something to piss him off?”
My cheeks heat, and I look up, only to fall into the warmth of his gaze. “No one else is free.”
A smile tugs at his lips. “I’m just messing with you, darlin’.”
My insides turn to mush, and I dip my head so he can’t see just how red my cheeks can get.
Rampage lies on his mat, propping himself up on his elbows in a semi-recline. His gaze sweeps over me as I get in position on my knees in front of him. He’s got guard, which means he has to make me submit, and I have the goal of passing guard to a dominant position and holding it for three seconds. The irony isn’t lost on me, but I don’t laugh because his eyes suddenly darken almost to black.
Boy, am I ever. “Yes.” I try to play it cool, like I wasn’t shackled to the ceiling of his BDSM playroom in my bra and knickers last night, stroked into a frenzy, and ordered not to touch myself. Like that was going to happen.
“You understand the drill?” He licks his lips, like a predator about to feast. “When one of us succeeds in our goal, we stop, and the loser goes back to the end of the line. The winner stays out and takes guard on the next person in line.”
“You have to make me submit.” I toy with the ends of my very white belt. “Maybe I should just go to the end of the line now. You didn’t seem to have any trouble with that last night.”
“Come here and say that,” he murmurs, patting his belt. “I’ll give you the advantage of full mount.”
My mouth goes dry as I crawl up his body and seat myself over his belt, my knees spread uncomfortably wide on either side of his hips in a fully dominant position. Something hard and smooth presses against the juncture of my thighs, and I pray he is wearing a cup because the urge to rock against that delicious hardness is almost overwhelming.
Rampage’s corded neck tightens when he swallows. “Move up. Your knees should be under my arms.”
I shuffle up, and he grabs my hips and drags me forward until my knees are on either side of his chest and I can feel the heat of his breath on a place where heat should not be felt in the middle of a packed Brazilian jiu-jitsu class.
“I think maybe I’m too close.”
He heaves in a breath, his eyes glittering as he grips the inside edges of my gi. “Not close enough.” With a hard yank, he pulls me down until I am laying flat on his body, my breasts against his chest, my hips against his cup, my hands braced on either side of his head.
“Full mount is where you want to be when you’re grappling a bigger, stronger opponent.” His words whisper over me, his lips so close to mine I only have to drop a few inches to have a little taste.
“You can use the strength and power of your own body and the force of gravity to your advantage.” He pulls me right down, wraps his free hand around me, shifts his hips and rolls. Before I can catch my breath, I’m flat on my back and Rampage is on top of me.
“This is where you don’t want to be as a smaller grappler,” he says. “How are you going to get out of this?”
The question isn’t so much how am I going to get out of it but do I want to get out of it? And with Rampage’s hard, muscular body on top of me, his legs between my thighs, his hardness pressed tight against the juncture of my thighs, I’m not sure I do.
Rampage stills, and his eyes widen.
Bugger. Did I say that out loud?
“I’m not sure I want you to either.” His breath is warm against my ear. “But if you don’t move, we’ll both get kicked out of class. So, what are you going to do?”
“Um…overhook an arm, bridge and roll, then get on top into the closed guard?”
Rampage drops his weight, stealing my breath. “Won’t work against a larger opponent. You need to blast through my hips and use a bit of strength to overturn me. Strength you don’t have. Your best bet is to escape back to half guard.”
“Okay.” I wiggle just the tiniest bit against him, seeking more of that delicious pressure against my clit. With my vibrator on high, I was able to take the edge off this morning, but with Rampage on top of me, I’m wound up all over again.
A low growl rumbles in his throat. “You’d better be wiggling ’cause you’re moving into half guard,” he warns. “Now straighten up and make your transition.”
“This is as straight as I get,” I mutter. “I’m a woman. Women have curves. I happen to have a curve in my back, and it wants to stay that way.”
“I can feel your curves, darlin’. Every one of them. And it’s making it fucking hard to concentrate. Make your move ’cause if you don’t do it soon, I’ll have to go out and get a cup.”
I suck in a sharp breath. “You aren’t wearing a cup?”
Don’t move. Don’t move.
I can’t help it. I move. Or, more accurately, I grind.
Wham. Rampage transitions into half guard and flips me onto my front. While I try to get my knees under me, he straddles me and grabs my hips in his huge hands. Heat surges through my body, and I groan quietly in my throat. “What are we doing?”
“Hips up,” he barks. “Ass down.”
“They’re connected,” I point out. “Where the hips go, the ass follows.”
Shilla snorts a laugh and drops to the floor beside me. “Like this.” She stretches her body out into a perfectly smooth, flat, plank position, holding it with one hand. On her knuckles. Then she rolls to show me what Rampage wants me to do.
“If my body was one solid sheet of muscle, I could do that.” I tense my muscles, try to force myself into a position my body is not meant to go. “However, I have a weakness for chocolate biscuits, lazy Sundays on a blanket in the park, scones with clotted cream, and chicken tikka with thick, white naan bread slathered in butter. Unfortunately, it lowers my middle center of gravity.”
Rampage’s hands slide over my stomach, his touch firm, arousing my whole body with the promise of what those fingers could do if they drifted just a little lower. My mind goes hazy with desire and I can’t tell if I’m flying or if my hands and feet are still on the floor. I don’t care about jiu jitsu transitions. I don’t care that Shilla is watching us with curious eyes or that we’re supposed to be doing a group drill. I don’t care if the whole class is watching us. All I care about is feeling connected to Rampage and wanting this moment to last forever.
He lifts me right off the floor, as if I weighed nothing, and pulls me against his broad chest, my ass against his hips, feet barely touching the mat, his hands firm around my body. My stomach clenches. My heart pounds. He leans down until his mouth is so close to my ear, I can feel the heat of his breath.
“I told you not to touch yourself last night,” he whispers.
A flush of adrenaline tingles through my body, followed by a thrill of fear. “What are you going to do about it?”
Yes, I must admit it: this is one of those books that caught my attention with its gorgeous cover and, after reading the blurb, I’ve had no hesitation: fighter romance with a touch of BDSM? It’s missing only a bike and a leather jacket and, as they say in tennis, for me it’s “Game! Set! Match!”.
No, I didn’t know as author Sarah Castille nor I’ve read her “Redemption” series. I approached recently the fighter romance genre, but sure my explorations will continue to move forward in this direction.
“Fighting Attraction” is the fourth book in the “Redemption” series by this author, but the novel can be considered as standalone and the story is about Penny and Jake/Rampage.
The Redemption is a gym frequented by a group of MMA fighters, but over time this place turned out to be something more for them. It’s the real core of their lives, where friends can harbor the same passion and built a strong bond between them. A group in which they began to enter slowly even women, who love the MMA world and who are able to stand up in front of this amazing alpha men, conquering them, and becoming, then, the most precious and important thing in their lives ; but they are also their toughest “rival” and the hardest to keep up with, given these mates have the rare gift to always elude their control. This of course makes them show even more their dominant side and even the “real caveman” that lurks beneath the surface.
Rampage and Penny’s story is even more special than the others.
Rampage is a great fighter, because of his skills he starts to take his first steps to become a pro in the MMA circuit. Gorgeous, hot, virtually unbeatable in the cage, but absolutely correct during and after his fights: the classic good guy, even funny and cute, who everyone would like to have as a friend.
He’s too perfect in the eyes of Penny, who has always been attracted in the past from bad guys.
What Penny doesn’t know yet is how much the “real” Rampage is well hidden under this facade, locked inside because of his fear of not being accepted for his real nature. He prefers to show this side of himself only in a safe place, within an exclusive BDSM club, where Rampage turns into Master Jack.
The BDSM has become part of Jack’s life, but this isn’t the classic story of this kind of book, in which a Dom finds his sub “and everyone lived happily ever after with a whip and handcuffs”. Things are different and Penny is not a sub.
The story between Jack/Rampage and Penny is more complex. They both had problems and suffered in the past.
Jack isn’t the perfect Dom who magically gets the rid of all Penny’s problems and she isn’t the woman who can erase Jack’s demons.
It’s a story with ups and downs, in which both of them must learn to know and live with their weaknesses and the ghosts of their past.
The thing I liked the most in them is that, despite the misunderstandings, they were always ready to support one another, always willing to be there.
This way everything was more realistic and I appreciated I could read through the point of view of both of them.
Despite all of her insecurities, Penny is the one with a better view of her life, the one that, over time, has been able somehow to accept herself, and to be ready, now, to get involved with Jack, while he continues to live an inner struggle, which makes him more vulnerable and uncertain about his real capacity to be the right man for her.
I loved how Ms Castille wrote this novel: the Redemption group is very united and present in the story. Rampage and Penny’s friends, as a whole, enrich the novel, they’re funny and hot characters and made me want to find out more about them.
In addition to these attractive alpha male fighters, I really liked how the story was told, showing along with the romance, moments when people fight, written with precise descriptions. I’ve to say sometimes, because of the fighters implicated – two people at random: Penny and Rampage – these workouts are transformed into something very hot to read.
They’re a couple with an explosive chemistry, but what for me always makes a difference in these cases – in addition to reading engaging scenes, full of passion, also very explicit – is also the fact of being in front of something more deep that binds the two protagonists.
Penny and Rampage together have this “something more”.
Sarah Castille is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Redemption Series, Ruin & Revenge Series, Sinner’s Tribe Motorcycle Club series, Legal Heat series and the Club Excelsior series. A recovering lawyer with a fondness for dirty-talking alpha males, she now is a full-time writer, who lives on Vancouver Island.
La mia dolce Penny ha un lato oscuro. Proprio come me.
La avrò. E poi la perderò, soffrendo una vita intera di rimpianti.
Rampage. Tutti lo amano. È il miglior lottatore del Redemption tra i pesi massimi e l’uomo su cui si fanno più gossip nella palestra. Ma non è il dolce orsacchiotto che tutti pensano. Nasconde un segreto oscuro e a causa sua odia se stesso.
Due volte la settimana Rampage si trasforma in Master Jack, un Dom rinomato con cui giocano solo le sottomesse abituate alle sessioni più intense ed estreme. Come può un gentiluomo del sud, nato per rispettare e proteggere le donne, desiderare di dominarle?
Ma Penny Worthington lo vuole. Al di sotto delle sue perle, dei suoi tacchetti a spillo e del suo aspetto esteriore, da perfetta britannica, batte un cuore tormentato… Master Jack è l’unico che potrà renderla libera.
Ebbene sì, lo ammetto: questo è uno di quei libri che ha catturato la mia attenzione grazie alla sua splendida cover e, dopo aver letto la trama, non ho più avuto tentennamenti: fighter romance con un pizzico di BDSM? Manca solo una bella moto e un giubbotto di pelle e, come si dice nel tennis, per me è “Gioco! Partita! Incontro!”.
No, non conoscevo come autrice Sarah Castille né tanto meno avevo letto la sua “Redemption” series. Mi sono avvicinata da poco al genere fighter romance, ma sicuramente le mie esplorazioni continueranno ad andare avanti in questo senso.
“Fighting Attraction” è il quarto libro della serie “Redemption” di questa autrice, ma è un romanzo che può essere considerato autoconclusivo e racconta la storia tra Penny e Jake/Rampage.
Il Redemption è una palestra frequentata da un gruppo lottatori di MMA, ma con il tempo questo posto si è rivelato essere qualcosa di più per loro. È un punto fermo nelle loro vite, un ritrovo di amici che nutrono la stessa passione e che hanno instaurato un legame forte tra di loro. Un gruppo nel quale hanno cominciato a inserirsi, piano piano, anche donne che amano il mondo della lotta MMA e che sono capaci di tenere testa a questi bellissimi uomini alfa, conquistandoli, per diventare, poi, la cosa più preziosa e importante della loro vita; ma sono anche “il rivale” più duro e difficile a cui tenere testa, visto che queste compagne hanno il raro dono di riuscire a sfuggire sempre al loro controllo. Questo naturalmente fa venire ancora di più alla luce il lato dominante di questi lottatori e anche il “vero cavernicolo” che si nasconde sotto la superficie.
La storia di Rampage e Penny è ancora più particolare rispetto alle altre.
Rampage è un lottatore eccezionale, così tanto da aver cominciato a muovere i primi passi per diventare un professionista nel circuito MMA. Bellissimo, sexy, praticamente imbattibile nella gabbia, ma assolutamente corretto durante e dopo gli incontri di lotta: il classico bravo ragazzo, anche divertente e simpatico, che tutti vorrebbero avere come amico.
È troppo perfetto agli occhi di Penny, che è sempre stata attratta in passato da uomini più “difficili”.
Quello che Penny non sa ancora è quanto in realtà il “vero” Rampage sia ben nascosto sotto questa facciata, chiuso a chiave a causa della sua paura di non essere accettato per quella che è veramente la sua natura. Preferisce mostrare questo lato di se stesso solo al sicuro, all’interno di un esclusivo club BDSM, dove Rampage si trasforma in Master Jack.
Il BDSM è diventato parte della vita di Jack, ma questa non è la classica storia che si trova in questo genere di libri, in cui un Dom trova la sua sub “e tutti vissero felici e contenti con frusta e manette”. Non è così e soprattutto Penny non è una sub.
La storia tra Jack/Rampage e Penny è più complessa. Entrambi sono persone che hanno avuto problemi e hanno sofferto nel passato.
Jack non è il Dom perfetto che magicamente fa scomparire tutti i problemi di Penny e lei non è la donna in grado di riuscire a placare tutti i demoni di Jack.
È una storia con alti e bassi, in cui entrambi devono imparare a conoscersi e a convivere con le loro debolezze e i fantasmi del passato.
La cosa che mi è piaciuta più tra loro è che, nonostante le incomprensioni, sono stati sempre pronti a sostenersi, sempre disposti a essere presenti l’uno per l’altra.
È una storia che, raccontata in questo modo, mi è sembrata più realistica e ho apprezzato il fatto di poterla leggere attraverso il punto di vista di entrambi.
Nonostante tutte le insicurezze di Penny è lei, quella tra i due, con le idee più chiare, quella che, nel tempo, è stata capace in qualche modo di accettarsi, fino a essere disposta, ora, a mettersi in gioco con Jack, mentre lui continua a vivere una lotta interiore che lo rende più vulnerabile e incerto sulle sue reali capacità di essere l’uomo giusto per lei.
Mi è piaciuto come Ms Castille ha scritto questo romanzo: il gruppo del Redemption è molto unito e presente nella storia. Gli amici di Rampage e Penny, nel loro insieme, arricchiscono il romanzo e i loro personaggi divertenti e sexy mi hanno fatto venir voglia di scoprire qualcosa di più su di loro.
Oltre a questi favolosi lottatori maschi alfa, mi è piaciuto molto come è stata raccontata la storia, inserendo, insieme alla parte romance, momenti in cui viene mostrata la lotta, in modo anche tecnico, con descrizioni precise. Devo dire che a volte, a seconda dei lottatori chiamati in causa – due persone a caso: Penny e Rampage – questi allenamenti si sono poi trasformati in qualcosa di più hot.
Sono una coppia legata da una chimica esplosiva, ma quello che per me fa sempre la differenza in questi casi – oltre a leggere scene coinvolgenti, piene di passione, raccontate anche in modo esplicito – è poi il fatto di trovarmi di fronte a qualcosa di più profondo che lega i due protagonisti. Con Penny e Rampage è stato proprio così.
Livello sensualità: 5 su 5
Voto: 4 su 5
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