Friday, June 4, 2010

REVIEW: Below the Belt by Sarah Mayberry

ISBN 9780373794089
Genre: Contemporary Romance
(c) June 2008, Harlequin Blaze
Sarah Mayberry's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link: Book Depository

"Intense, heat-ratcheting romance with a dash of humor"

Jamie Sawyer wanted to erase the shame that her father had brought upon their family name, and to do that, she wanted to train under the best boxing trainer: Cooper Fitzgerald. However, Cooper wasn't in the market for women boxers and he wouldn't take her on. She had proved to him that she got talent and power. But most of all, he was drawn to her because of something else that sizzled between them...

Jamie is strong, determined and stubborn, and she needs a man like Cooper to handle her. Cooper knows his stuff and he also knows when to pick his battles, especially against a stubborn woman like Jamie. I love watching their interaction--it's fascinating and the chemistry fairly sizzled between them. Ms. Mayberry certainly knew how to write and depict the sexual tension between the characters and there were lots of it. Needless to say, their sex scenes, when they happened, were hot. Scorching. Needs ice.

I also love the characters' internal monologue, which was interspersed with humor. For example, when Cooper found himself inappropriately sporting a hard-on: Maybe if he got a really good muscle burn going (he was doing some tricep pushdowns), he could stop behaving like a life support system for a hard-on.

As boxing is a fairly unfamiliar sport to me, I also love reading about it. No info bashing, for which I'm very thankful. I still cannot understand why people would be fascinated by it (my brother is, for example), but I can appreciate that as boxers, the characters had the drive and the passion for it. You can tell that they really love the sport.

I like the way the stakes were upped for Jamie each step of the way. I like that she's smart and determined and she knows what she wants (I believe I've said that some paragraphs ago), however, there was one part where she behaves irrationally (for me) and which some readers might say is TSTL. In fact, I don't quite understand still why she did it, and the explanation offered by Cooper later on didn't quite cut it for me. Basically, Jamie took on a fight with someone who is way more experienced than she, the fight offer made by a publicist who was banking on her famous name (due to her father) to draw the crowds (and which made Cooper thought the fight would become a media circus). She also didn't want to listen to Cooper or her grandfather or her friend, who made reasonable suggestions. If it weren't for Cooper coming through for her at the end, she would've lost that fight. I don't just believe that, but I know that.

I realized why Ms. Mayberry had that publicist made the fight offer, which in my opinion is realistic. She had to move the story forward to its conclusion. I just don't quite agree with Jamie's decision. Yes, I know she's set her heart on being the title champion and redeeming their name, but I thought she's also more sensible than her actions made her seem.

Despite that, this is a good read, if you're looking for a category romance.

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository


Scorpio M. said...

I'm working my way through Mayberry's backlist, haven't read this one yet. Great, in-depth review as always. I am a little hesitant about this one because of the boxing theme, it's hard for me to read about a female being pummeled and knocked around but I'll try.

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

I loved this story! It's one of my favorites by Ms Mayberry. She really knows to write some heart wrenching love stories!
Great review, Carole. :)

Carole said...

Hi Scorpio M, yes, me too! Working through her backlist, that is. But I'm gonna read Her Best Friend first, since it's the latest that's come out. Thanks for the compliment! I hope I've helped in some way with my review! Re the boxing, you and Cooper have the same reaction! Only, Cooper's reaction is particularly for Jamie, not all women.

Hi Janna, thanks for dropping by. I'm a new Mayberry fan! :)

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