REVIEW: Defying the Odds by Kele Moon
Dear Ms. Moon:
This book caught my eye on Twitter. KatiD recommended it and I can see why. The story featured two really sweet characters who had never been special in anyone’s lives before and who found, in each other, the perfect companion. As I read the book, I kept thinking of how much potential the story had. It could have been an amazing story but it lacked serious character development. Every time an opportunity arose to engage the reader’s deep emotional connection was bypassed. It was a superficial story that had a ton of potential.
Melody Dylan escaped her abusive husband. Broke, she ended up in Garnet and got a job waiting tables. She may be poor but she’s independent, and most importantly, safe. Melody catches the eye of UFC fighter, Clay Powers. Melody has no clue who Clay is but she bristled when she ran into the sheriff, a former UFC fighter and the best friend of Clay.
The sheriff proceeds to tell Clay that Melody won’t want anything to do with him because of his past. This isn’t true because to Melody it isn’t the size but the attitude of a man that is frightening and while Clay looks like he could break her in two with one hand, he doesn’t give off the the same scary vibe of a man who could be a danger to her.
But Clay, believing that he would only be rebuffed, can only look at Melody with longing each time he comes to the cafe and sits in her section.
“I dunno the details. She seemed to feel like he was a real danger, enough to move here of all places.” Wyatt took another sip of his coffee, his tall frame still hunched low over the booth as he spoke to Clay. “You get why it wouldn’t work out, dontcha? Why a UFC Hall of Fame heavyweight might not be her ideal man?”
Yeah, Clay got it, and he knew Wyatt was right. It wasn’t even a shock to his system. He was too rough around the edges, too mean, too big and intimidating. Nice girls didn’t fuck guys like him—groupies did.
Much of this is told to us in summary fashion and it is too bad because there is nothing more endearing than a tough guy beset with unrequited love. For instance, seeing Clay choke down pumpkin pie that was gifted to him by Melody did more to show me the type of guy that Clay was (willing to suffer rather than hurt her feelings) than all the summary paragraphs that followed. Further, Clay doesn’t love sex. He finds it largely unsatisfying because of the lack of emotional involvement to the point he has become celibate. His attraction, both physical and emotional to Melody was sweet and touching and I wished there was greater development of this. Likewise, Melody’s past abuse and her recovery was glossed over. There was also a very truncated timeline. The romance takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s but there are several timing issues that seemed off.
I am not a fan of the use of dialect and it is heavy in this book. I’m not sure why it is used other than to emphasize stereotypes of small southern towns being full of people using incorrect grammar.
As a sports book, the UFC bit is important to the story and not just there as a backdrop. Clay is struggling with the trajectory of his career. He is currently on top but it’s getting tiresome. He hates the showmanship aspect of the position and his lust for winning is diminishing. I’m not very well versed in UFC so I have no idea about the accuracy of the scenes but it did feel right. Clay worked out daily; he was ribbed about his eating habits that might affect his performance; the violence of the sport was emphasized. There was both an appreciation for the sport that was exuded in the book but a cautionary note regarding the possibility of serious injury.
This was a very wweet romance that missed a huge opportunity to build great backstory. It was a bit slow in the beginning but the pace was offset by fun banter between Clay and his best friend Wyatt and fortunately, the story picked up speed toward the end. I loved the characters and felt it could have been so much stronger. Again, this is a very sweet book but I just felt left wanting so much more. C+
The book is fairly expensive being that it is published by Loose Id but it may be worth putting on your wish list at Fictionwise and buying during one of the 40-60% off sales.