Shadowboxer by Cari Quinn

cover61740-mediumTitle:  Shadowboxer

Series:  Tapped Out #1

Author:  Cari Quinn

Genre:  Contemporary

Blurb:   She’s in for the fight of her life…with the man who only wants to be her lover.

Fighter Mia Anderson has faced the dark side of life and survived. But just getting by is no longer enough. To fund her new life with her baby sister, she’s determined to beat the reigning king of the male fighters in New York’s underground MMA circuit, Tray “Fox” Knox.

Tray refuses to fight a woman, until he learns Mia’s tougher than anyone he has ever known. He soon realizes he wants more from her than blows and blood, and he’s willing to hit below the belt to get it. He’ll fight her, but if he wins, she spends the night in his bed. All night long, his rules. No tapping out. 

Mia agrees, certain that he’ll lose. What she doesn’t realize is that Tray loves to fight dirty…and that this match may end up being the most important one of their lives.

Warning: please be advised this book contains content some may find triggering (past sexual trauma) and also contains graphic sex and language that may not be suitable for underage readers.

Thoughts:  I have to admit, I was on the fence about this title yet intrigued as well – and I was really hoping the author could pull it off. I had high hopes though considering it was Cari Quinn and I had just been introduced to her with the ‘Boys of Fall’ series with fellow authors Erin Nicholas and Mari Carr, and I was impressed enough that I wanted to delve into some more of her books. I have to say, this book did not let me down – if anything, I am even more impressed by her writing and I will definitely be looking into more from this author. So why was I on the fence you wonder? Well, I love MMA themed books – however, I was a bit hesitant over a female fighter looking to go head to head with a guy – particularly a guy she was attracted to. I have to admit to being a bit conflicted over it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equality – but I also have a hard time picturing a guy going into the ring with a female to fight with her…that just seems fundamentally wrong to me. But I was hoping that the author’s writing would overcome my hesitations, and in this, she certainly succeeded.

I also loved the underlying complexities of this story. A lot of Mia’s issues were because of past trauma, and I thought that was excellently handled in the book – not just the subject matter, but Mia’s reactions and her defensive and almost abrasive behavior. Mia was a survivor – and the more we got to know her, the easier it was to see beneath that tough veneer she showed to the world. Her character made me want to cry – particularly when she started allowing herself to open up and be a little more vulnerable. Mia was beautiful and I’m glad she finally allowed that to shine through. Tray was an excellent match for her, and only made this story stronger. He also proved that sometimes the knight doesn’t always slay the dragon – but that doesn’t make him any less a knight.

Be that as it may, it is certainly not for everyone – this book is definitely more on the dark end of the scale. The harsher side of life can hit a little to close to home in this book…but that is part of the beauty in the author’s writing and in the story – and this one is well worth the effort.

Rate:  A

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