Review: Fighting Love by Abby Niles


Fighting Love (Love to the Extreme)

May Contain Spoilers


I wanted to like Fighting Love better than I did, but the selfish hero marred the read for me.  It took far too long for Tommy “Lightning” Sparks to realize how important Julie was, and how empty his life would be without her in it.  Every time I thought he had made some progress towards becoming a more caring human being – bzzzzzzz – he turned into a huge jerk again.  Even his initial motivation for finally getting together with Julie is based on jealousy and the need to possess her so nobody else could have her.  He acted like my dog, Poppy.  The only time she wants Bumble’s ball is when he wants to play with it.  Then pandemonium ensues as they battle over who controls that stupid orange ball.

Tommy is having a bad year.  He’s lost his championship, he’s been banned from fighting again, and his house just burned down.  With all of his possessions, except for his beloved dog, Warrior.  In a moment of panic, he raced into his burning house to rescue a box in his closet, but is forced back outside by the flames.  He is distraught by the loss of that box.  It held every memento he received from Julie, he BFF since they were ten.  Based on his grief over losing the box, I thought Tommy and I were going to get along just fine.  I was wrong.  While Tommy held the memories in that box with high regard, that same respect didn’t transfer over to his real life treatment of Julie. 

Tommy’s fall from grace all stems from his own bad behavior.  After winning the belt, he transforms into a party animal, foregoing training for life in the spotlight.  He relishes being the center of attention, and he completely forgets about the important things in life while basking in the glow of his fans adoration.  Things like Julie and her feelings.  He is so caught up in his ego that he doesn’t even realize that he’s trampling on her emotions and self-esteem, and no way in hell does he deserve the loyalty that she lavishes on him over the years.  When he loses his match to defend his title, and then is banned from his training gym and the cage after getting in a fight, he doesn’t even try to defend his actions.  He decked the league owner’s son for threatening Julie, but since he’s done nothing but mess up for the past few months, he takes his punishment in silence, and resorts to being a model for a sporting goods catalog to pay his bills.

I really liked Julie, and wondered why she has spent the last few years waiting for Tommy to wise and see what a great match she would be for him.  After his house burns down, she offers her spare room to him for as long as it takes for him to get back on his feet again.  She didn’t realize how difficult it would be sharing a house with him, or how hurtful it would be for him to be totally oblivious to her feelings for him.  When he suggests that she really needs to start dating because she is wasting away, she takes him up on the offer.  She puts him from her mind, determined to get over him, and goes out with another MMA fighter.  That’s when Tommy’s jealousy flares out of control.  He doesn’t like Brody at all, doesn’t trust him, and is highly suspicious of his good guy image.  I kept wondering why Julie didn’t fall for Brody, because he was respectful of her feelings and actually had a clue!

Tommy keeps sending Julie mixed signals, one moment badgering her to go out and have fun, the next trying to sabotage her plans for said fun.  While sparks begin to fly between them, Tommy treats their attraction like indigestion.  A temporary annoyance that will soon correct itself.  He is not thoughtful or tender, and he repeatedly blames his less than ideal mother for his inability to be the kind of guy that Julie deserves.  Instead of putting on his big boy pants, he comes up with excuses for why Julie, the woman who has stood by him through fire – literally!  – isn’t the one for him.  Or he’s not the one for her.  Once he’s given a chance to fight again, his ego takes the lead once more, and he hurts Julie with thoughtlessness again and again.  Really, I wanted her to give him up for Lent and hook up with Brody instead.

While I wasn’t won over by the hero, I did like the heroine, so I’m looking forward to reading more by Abby Niles.  Hopefully Brody will get a book soon, and he can show Tommy that being a nice guy isn’t a bad thing, and it will, in fact, get you the moon.

Grade:  C

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Talk about kicking a fighter while he’s down.

Former Middleweight champion and confirmed bachelor Tommy "Lightning" Sparks has lost it all: his belt, his career, and now his home. After the devastating fire, he moves in with his drama-free best friend, Julie. One encounter changes everything and Julie is no longer the girl he’s spent his life protecting but a desirable woman he wants to take to his bed. Knowing his reputation, he’s determined to protect Julie more than ever—from himself.

Veterinarian Julie Rogers has been in love with Tommy since she was ten, but would love to get over the man. She’s quiet nights at home and a glass of wine. He’s clubbing all night and shots of tequila. As friends they work great. As a couple? No way in hell. She just can’t get her heart to agree. When she starts spending time with another fighter, the man who’s always treated her like a sister is suddenly not being very brotherly and enflames her body like never before.

Can two childhood friends make a relationship work, or will they lose everything because they stopped FIGHTING LOVE