Monday, March 21, 2016

Fighting Dirty- Lori Foster

Fighting Dirty- Lori Foster (Ultimate Fighters series #4)
HQN Books
Release Date: February 23, 2016

Synopsis: With the life he's led and the muscles he's gained, Armie Jacobson isn't afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter's effect on him. It's not just that she's his best friend's little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that's all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life.  
Good girl meets bad boy. It's a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they're both about to learn what's truly worth fighting for…

At long last, the novel Lori Foster Fans have been waiting for: Armie's story.  Readers have watched Armie Jacobsen develop over the last three books and one novella into a character they've wanted badly to get his own book. Not just because it's about time he got his just desserts (in and out of the ring) but to answer the questions that surround him.  Why would such a great fighter not want to move into a professional MMA position? Is the "best friend rule" really the only reason he's stayed clear of Cannon's little sister?  All questions are answered here, and then some.

In my opinion its always more satisfying to start a series with book one and watch characters develop, but those starting the Ultimate Fighters series with Fighting Dirty won't have to worry about missing anything (except three other really good books). Other characters from the Ultimate Fighter, SBC Fighters, and Love Undercover series have cameos but the book is, like most of Foster's series, self-contained if you're crazy enough not to have read her other books yet. 

Armie is a complicated and far from perfect man who manages to be endearing and lovable even when he's a jerk.  He's fought stubbornly against becoming an SBC fighter through the whole series and readers finally find out why.  Learning about his tough childhood helps us understand why he chooses to keep himself at a distance from even his friends, and why he's so good helping protect his friends, family, and neighborhood.  Fortunately, Marissa "Rissy" Colter is almost as stubborn as her big brother Cannon and is finally ready to fight for what she wants- a relationship with Armie.  And she's not above fighting dirty to show him she's the one for him.  Even when he pulls the ultimate dumb protective male routine of trying to stay away in order to protect her from his past, Rissy is strong enough and confident enough that she doesn't let him get away with it.

Fighting Dirty is a fast paced story where Lori Foster continues to prove that blending friends, family, love, mystery, and mixed martial arts works much better than you might imagine.  While the threats and mystery are real and the men react the way you would expect protective alpha males to react, readers new to Foster shouldn't worry about an abundance of violence or glorifying violence.  The distinction between the sport of mixed martial arts and domestic violence is clear without being preachy. Armie and the other men may be fighters but they work hard with teens and younger kids to teach that fighting is for discipline and exercise, not for random violence. The fact that they become role models to the kids was never the intention, but is certainly good for the kids.

Fighting Dirty is a great addition to Foster's works, and a fun must-read for both regular fans and those just being introduced to her, or to contemporary romance in general. It's great to check in with old friends, meet a few newer ones, and discover the mystery that is Armie Jacobsen.  Best of all, at the end Foster promises that Leese (my new personal favorite) and some of the others will get their own series soon. The only down side? Now we have to wait for her to write them!   

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