Tuesday, March 14, 2017

MMA Romance Week: Below The Belt by Jeanette Murray

Rating: ★★★★ | 304 Pages | Berkley | Contemporary | First to Fight #1 | 4/7/2015

At 29-years-old, Brad Costa has been affectionately nicknamed the Grandpa of the Marine Corps boxing training camp. This year is Costa’s first and final shot at making the team and when he takes a bad fall on the first day of training  he does the only thing he can do--hide the injury. But he doesn't escape the eye of Marianne Cooke, the team's new athletic trainer. As Marianne and Brad get closer, his secret injury could threaten their relationship and her job.

After my speed read/ DNF of Lori Foster’s No Limits this book was so refreshing. The heroine, Marianne has this big personality and makes Parks and Rec references left and right. She’s almost the exact opposite of Brad who is all serious and Grumpy McGrumpy Grump all the time.

Brad was so fascinating to me because it’s almost like he didn’t get the memo that he is a marine
hero in a romance novel. He just wanted to do his duty and blend in with everyone else, he wasn't about being seen as a hero.

Murray really built a whole world around the day-to-day life in and around this Jacksonville military base and now that I think about it, military base romances are totally just small town romances. They both have close communities that share a small space and have residents with common ideals.

What makes this book compelling is that the stakes were always high; you don’t know if Brad is going to make the team or not. Also, NGL, when Brad reveals why joining the boxing team is so important to him it got me in the feels.

Now...there is a mystery (which I was terrified was going to lead to the heroine running from rape but didn’t) that involves someone constantly vandalizing Marianne’s training center. It’s never resolved so I assume it’s going to be an ongoing plot point in the series ?


  •  I thought the race car driving was a plethora for double entendre titles for romance novels but apparently boxing/MMA/wrestling books is where it is at.
  • Murray does a decent job of incorporating other minorities although she did kind of do the Black Dude Dies First because the only explicitly black Marine that gets a name gets cut from the team soon after he gets a personality.

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