Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille

I was talking to my mom the other day, and she mentioned how she was reading a novel that featured two leads with some pretty unique names: Daphne and Simon. After a slight pause I responded, “I’m reading one featuring a ‘Makayla’ and a ‘Torment’.” Yeah…Torment. Granted, it’s a fighting name, but still. I think that beats out “Simon” in the unique name department.

What’s it About? 

against the ropes

He scared me. He thrilled me. And after one touch, all I could think about was getting more…Makayla never thought she’d set foot in an underground mixed-martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it’s these guys. Trouble is, at her first sight of the club’s owner she’s the one feeling breathless. All sleek muscle and restrained power, the man they call Torment plays to win at any cost. Whether it’s in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when to use a soft touch and when to launch a full-on assault. He always knows just how far he can push. And he’s about to tempt Makayla in ways she never imagined…

First Impressions

Makayla is your stereotypical romance novel heroine with a total lack of self confidence, or awareness of her own sexuality. After the first few times of meeting Torment she’s constantly asking herself, “Oh is he flirting with me? Does he like me? Could he possibly want to take things to the next level and sleep with me?” Girl! He just kissed each and every one of your fingers, then your palm, wrist and up your arm to your elbow. I think it’s safe to say he’s got some warm and fuzzy feelings for ya! This novel definitely starts off strong as Makayla and Torment have this fabulous sexual tension, and you can’t wait until they work some of it off in the bedroom. Unfortunately it quickly devolves into this bizarre, pseudo on-again off-again relationship. It seems like every time they take a step forward in their relationship they then take two giant ass steps back.

kissing arm.gif

Money and Friend Problems

Makayla is experiencing some severe financial issues. She mistakenly thought her school loans were deferred, but apparently they’ve been handed over to a collections agency. She has this really interesting rapport with the debt collector who is in charge of her case, and while kind of creepy at times, it also develops into a really interesting part of the story. Her financial woes are what first bring her and Torment together though, as she accepts a position as the ring-side first aid medic for his underground fighting ring.

fighting

This is also how we are introduced to Makayla’s best “friend”, Amanda. Not gonna lie, this woman is a terrible friend, and quite possibly a terrible person in general. She only cares about herself, and basically ignores every concern Makayla brings up about this debt collector who is pressuring her for a lot of money she doesn’t have. Amanda also has some questionable relationship opinions. When her boyfriend Jake doesn’t bend to her every whim she decides to faze him out and give him the silent treatment as a way of getting back at him. When Jake basically says, “to hell with this”, and breaks things off Amanda gets so pissy she sleeps with Makayla’s boss to show Jake other people want her just fine. Ughh, anyone else think this is too high school?

mean girls

 

What Not to Do

At first I kind of enjoyed how protective Torment was of Makayla. Normally when we have a male lead who is overly protective of his woman it’s something I hate, but when it came to Makayla’s living arrangements I couldn’t help but agree with him. She’s living in what is basically a hallway that opens up to the back entrance of a shared house. And the door in her “room” that leads outside has a broken lock. So yeah, I kind of understand why he would be protective of her in this instance. However, as their relationship progresses it becomes so “me Tarzan you Jane” it’s kind of ridiculous.

tarzan

This book eventually becomes the perfect example of how dangerous an introduction to light BDSM with your partner can be when you don’t have good communication. Torment ties up Makayla, restrains her and pushes her to the point where she has flashbacks from her abusive childhood. When he asks her what’s wrong she brushes it to the side as though nothing is wrong, even though Torment recognizes that there is some kind of underlying issue at work here. That doesn’t stop him though from doing it a second time! Shame on him! He kind of pushes her to the point where she has an emotional breakdown, and that’s just not ok.

nuh_uh_conan_obrien

Series: Redemption, book 1. If we ever have a future novel featuring Amanda as the female lead I’m gonna have some issues with it.

Should you read it? Meh, it was just ok. Kind of frustrating how it had such a fun and promising start, but eventually there’s just so much back and forth of will they/won’t they between Makayla and Torment it was kind of frustrating. The debt collector aspect was an interesting question mark feature throughout the novel that did come together at the end for a delightful finish. Definitely not a must read, and also shows what not to do when it comes to introducing BDSM into your relationship.

Smut Level: I did appreciate at one point when Torment asks Makayla what she wants her safe word to to be to stop all sexual activity and she asks, “Why can’t it just be ‘stop’?” Such a great question.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.25 Kindle Price. Sourcebooks Casablanca. 368 Pages.

 

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