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Meg Maguire

REVIEW:  Taking Him Down by Meg Maguire

REVIEW: Taking Him Down by Meg Maguire

 

Rules of the Ring…

No unsportsmanlike conduct

“Matchmaker Lindsey Tuttle always thought Rich Estrada was a whole lot of sexy. What’s not to lust after? He’s a gorgeous, flirty mixed martial arts fighter. When they find themselves heating up during an unexpected–and superintense–make-out session, Lindsey is ready…until Rich ends it with no explanation.

Three rounds…

Now it’s almost a year later, and Rich has a broken foot, which means a frustrating recovery back in Boston before his next fight. But this could be the perfect time for a rematch with a sexy little matchmaker….

And minimal clothing!

There’s no denying the chemistry between them. It’s full-contact, no-holds-barred attraction…and only one can be on top!”

Dear Ms. Maguire,

After reading the first book in this series, “Making Him Sweat,” I was hoping that there would be a follow up featuring two secondary characters of that book. Rich Estrada is all cocky charm and in-your-face athletics. Or maybe that’s the other way around. Either way, he’s dedicated to his MMA training and not looking for a relationship. Lindsey Tuttle is a modern Boston woman working in an old-fashioned business – matchmaking. And while she’s enjoyed flirting with Rich she’s on again/off again engaged and not looking to cheat.

Taking Him Down by Meg MaguireThis all changes one night after Rich wins a bout that earns him the attention of agents. At an after fight party, Rich and Lindsey – who up until now hasn’t really followed MMA – finally seem to connect on a deeper basis. To Lindsey, Rich shows a hint of a man who might not be as self assured as he appears on the surface. To Rich, Lindsey gives the impression that she might actually be attracted to a man who only knows how to fight for a living. It finally seems like they might take their simmering attraction for each other past the flirting stage. Only Rich gets some misinformation and cools things down before they accelerate any further.

I like that Rich is honorable enough not to want to poach on who he thinks is another man’s woman. Lindsey is upset about how the night fizzles out but she’s got enough self respect that she doesn’t throw herself at him before he leaves and then finishes off her now permanently off engagement. The ten month interval gives enough time for Lindsey to get into MMA, Rich to train with the pros and earn his old Fight Academy some notice and both of them to think about that night that might have been before an injury brings Rich back home.

The Rich who arrives back in Boston to heal is a different man. His immigrant father’s failure to provide for his family before his death made Rich the breadwinner for his mother and sister. And the threat of following in his father’s footsteps hangs over Rich’s head. Meanwhile, Lindsey’s youngest sister has landed in Boston after running away from home and it looks like Lindsey is going to play nursemaid for a few months.

Rich and Lindsey tentatively begin to revisit their old flirty ways and then take the relationship deeper. Rich finds himself telling Lindsey things about his life and his fears that he’s never revealed to anyone. Lindsey puts her sister to work at the Fight Academy earning money as a way to convince Maya to go home but Maya just might have what it takes to become the first woman to be trained there. Rich and Lindsey finally get physical and the heat about blows some doors off. But is there enough between them to take things any further or will hawt sex be as far as they go?

My problem with half of “Making Him Sweat” was that the conflict seemed to fizzle out and too much time was spent on issues outside of the romantic relationship. Here, I didn’t have either problem. Enough space is dedicated to Rich and Lindsey’s respective careers and home life to make them well rounded as people but it doesn’t take away from their burgeoning romance. The sex is smoking but before they commit to each other, they realize that each needs the other on a deeper basis. Rich discovers that without Lindsey he’s a hollow man while Lindsey sees in Rich the man who lights her up from inside. By the time they’re set for the future, I’m totally on board. Now, I wonder who you’ll write about next. B

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Making Him Sweat by Meg Maguire

REVIEW: Making Him Sweat by Meg Maguire

Dear Ms. Maguire,

I decided to read “Making Him Sweat” because I like to try new-to-me authors at Harlequin, I hadn’t read a Blaze book for a while, and I wanted to see if a book about boxers could hold my attention. I mean no insult to boxing but it’s not a sport I follow and my feelings about it mimic those of the heroine – I tend to watch it from behind my hand and through my fingers and I’d rather not think about the impact of the punches too much. I’m happy to say that I’d try another boxing book and given the popularity of MMA, I will probably have the chance.

The conflict between Jenna and Mercer is laid out from the beginning. She’s inherited the building that houses her deceased father’s Fight Academy – a man she never really knew since he didn’t bother to stay in touch with her after her mother bailed on the marriage and left with Jenna in tow – and her plans don’t include keeping it open past the specified time mentioned in the will. Instead she wants to make it the location of Spark: Boston – the newest old fashioned matchmaking business but in a franchised format. She’s smart enough not to get huffy or rude with Mercer – a man whom her father mentored and asked to manage the club after his death – though she’s a little hurt that her father seemed to be closer to this boxer and the other fighters there than he ever tried to be with her.

making-him-sweatAt this point I was expecting the usual clashes and sparks and snits that often initially accompany the beginning of a relationship between a hero and heroine with clear cut issues from the start. But lo and behold – Mercer is polite and Jenna returns the favor. She’s also willing to listen to his plans to try and financially turn the Academy around and finds herself touched, though still a bit resentful, when the fighters with whom her father spent so much time come to the Academy and stop by to offer their condolences to her. This is also when she begins to discover just how much her father loved her as the men tell her how proud he was of her and how often he mentioned her accomplishments. Jenna also doesn’t pratfall while around the boxing rings and equipment – something that happens so much in romance novels to build tension, sexual and otherwise, between hero and heroine.

Meanwhile, Mercer is astonished to learn how badly Jenna thinks of her dad. He’s only known the man who adored his daughter though Mercer wisely doesn’t force the issue. He also takes the limited time he thinks he has left at the Academy as a challenge to turn it around rather than an opportunity to make Jenna’s life miserable. Then given the fact that he’s been staying in the apartment above the facilities and Jenna decides to move into the second bedroom to save more money for her new business, they start to know each other a lot better. I expected a quicker move to sexual intimacy since this is a Blaze book and I wasn’t mistaken but it didn’t feel too rushed since both go into it with eyes open and not expecting anything long term. They are two adults, interested in each other who decide to go for it given the sexual heat between them and sell-by date they see on the relationship.

Well the sex is smoking and pretty soon its obvious that there’s more than mere chemistry going on between them. What is going to fill out the second half of the book?, I wondered. This is where it falters a bit for me. Jenna finally discovers the truth about how her father tried to maintain their relationship which leads to a crying jag which offers Mercer the chance to show just how much he feels for her – aside from him wanting to beat up any man in the future who ever makes her upset. But then this issue is (almost too quickly) laid to rest.

The remainder of the book ambles along as we watch Jenna and her new assistant work to set up Jenna’s business and plan the opening event, Jenna bite her lip with concern when it looks like the Academy will have to be closed regardless of anything Mercer attempts, and both of them reluctantly coming to accept the end of their time together. It’s not exactly riveting and certainly not as entertaining as it was watching Mercer and Jenna get some hot sex on. A last minute event saves the day but it’s more a quiet save than a dramatic one. Though Mercer does a spiffy job of telling Jenna that he’s going to propose to her and keep on doing that until he convinces her to say yes. I just wish the entire book worked as well for me as the first half did. C+

~Jayne

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