Monday, February 23, 2015

Below the Belt (Worth the Fight #3) by Sidney Halston - Blog Tour, Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Tour Wide Giveaway for a $25 eGift Card of Winner's Choice Bookseller and Loveswept Mug

Below the Belt
Worth the Fight # 3
By: Sidney Halston
Releasing February 10th, 2015

In Sidney Halston’s latest sizzling MMA romance, a former title contender turns the tables on his knockout trainer with a lesson in seduction.

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?

Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.

“Tony! Tony!” Fingers snapped behind him, forcing his eyes to refocus. He turned slightly and saw Francesca talking to him through the fence. “Listen to me.” She pointed two fingers at his eyes, then at hers. “Look at me. You see me?” He nodded. “You can do this. You hear me? Worth the Fight Academy trains winners. You’re a winner, Tony. I believe in you. You got this. Concentrate. Don’t let him take you on the ground. Stay on your feet.” He nodded again as he was handed more water. But all too quickly the bell for the final round rang.

He had still not been able to completely catch his breath, but he refused to go out this way, especially in front of Francesca. If he had any hope of ever sleeping with her, he couldn’t come out of this fight a loser. Not only would it be humiliating, but it would cause her to question her decision to take him on as a fighter at the Academy. In his long career, he’d never tapped out or been knocked out, and he wasn’t planning on doing so today. The guys were right, he shouldn’t have used up so much energy in the first round—his legs felt wobbly and his arms were spent, and he didn’t have much left now. Luckily, his opponent didn’t look that much better, with his left eye swollen almost shut and a split lip. The men circled each other for some time while both corners shouted advice.

This time Winters approached first. Knowing Tony’s weakness was the mat, he tried to take him down, but as he lunged forward in order to wrap his arms around Tony’s hips, Tony was able to knee him in the forehead. The man stumbled but didn’t fall. Tony took that opportunity to land a combination of punches; unfortunately, Winters managed to land a kick to Tony’s face. By the time the final bell rang, both men looked like they were ready to collapse and blood stained the floor of the cage.

Back in his corner, Tony sipped more water as the enswell was again pressed hard against his swollen face. Someone smeared ointment on his cuts to stop the bleeding, and someone else was fanning him with a towel. Then the referee called both men to the center of the cage, holding each fighter’s wrist as they waited for the results.

Tony’s arm was never raised because, by split decision, Winters won the fight. It wasn’t the first fight Tony had lost, but it was the first time in his life he was scared his career was coming to an end.

Sexy MMA fighter: Check!
Kick-ass heroine: Check!
Explosive chemistry: Check!
Sexy accent: Check!

I love that Francesca can kick ass but still has a vulnerable side that only Tony gets to see. That said, I didn't like the way she pushes him away.  Tony comes off as a cocky SOB, but he is actually a really good guy underneath the public persona. I love that he didn't give up on Francesca. His jealousy goes a bit overboard, but I get that he's never felt what he feels for her.  

Great addition to the series although this book has a lot less drama.  

ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jiu Jitsu in MMA

Thank you for having me here today! If you’ve read (or are about to read) BELOW THE BELT you’ll notice the term Jiu Jitsu used often. So, today, let’s talk Jiu Jitsu.

Worth the Fight series takes place around an MMA training academy. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. This is a fighting sport that has become very popular thanks to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). MMA is different than boxing because in boxing the fighter is on his feet and uses only his arms to hit his opponents. A boxer doesn’t kick and doesn’t wrestle.

In MMA a fighter can do almost anything. In the last years, there have been more rules put into place to protect the fighter. When MMA began there were no rules, which meant that you could essentially do anything and fighters were getting serious injured. Now, there are certain safeguards guards such as: no fish hooking, no biting, no hitting the back of the head, groin, or throat, no eye gauging, and no head butts. But, essentially, it is precisely what the title says: mixed martial arts. Any style of fighting can be used: boxing, kick boxing, judo, wrestling, Karate, Jiu Jitsu…etc.  Jiu Jitsu, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as it is most commonly referred to, is similar to judo or wrestling. Whereas in boxing or kickboxing the fighter is strongest on his feet, a Jiu Jitsu fighter is strongest on the floor. The best MMA fighters have knowledge on multiple disciples, not just one. Especially since you don’t know what your opponent will excel in you need to know at least the basics in most styles and most champions know a lot more than the basics.

In BELOW THE BELT, Tony is a kickboxer. His opponent is a professional Jiu Jitsu fighter. Because of that, Tony must train on the floor—or grapple as it is termed. The heroine of the book, Francesca is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. At first, Tony refuses to concentrate his efforts in strengthening his Jiu Jitsu skills because it is a completely different style of fighting and something he is not good at.  Will he win the last fight or lose on the floor because his arrogance gets in the way?

Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain, or even simpler, “Just Do It” Nike.

And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red, among four other novels currently in the works, including the sequel to Seeing Red. That first pen stroke sealed the deal and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children. She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading… She’s a reader first and a writer second.

When she’s not writing or reading her life is complete and utter chaos trying to balance family life with work, and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.