MMA and romance, definitely claims the prize....
This is the debut book by author Nadja Notariani, and it is worth the read. It is well written with intelligent dialog, realistic events and well rounded characters. It is especially comforting to have a hero who isn't turned into a simpering "yes, dear" by the end of the book. The personalities of our cast stay true to form throughout. Which, for those who have suffered through "sybil" books, is very refreshing.
The blending of romance with the sport of MMA is also a new twist in the genre. For those who are not familiar, MMA is mixed martial arts. It combines the boxing, wrestling and different martial arts disciplines. Ladies, trust me, it is an eye candy store I love to get lost in! Notariani also reaches a nice middle ground with her descriptive elements. I was not left wanting more, nor was I skipping past pages droning on about furniture, flowers and inane character musings. It is helpful to remember that this story takes place over a fairly long period of time, with the gaps in between fights of usually 4 to 6 months. Just so you aren't wondering why things seem to be happening fairly quickly.
The story follows Drago Zadrovec, an MMA fighter, who comes to America (from Slovakia) to train with team Anto-Engage for an upcoming bout on his way to a title shot. The team and gym is run by Guy Antolini and his daughter, Grace. They meet and fall in love, marry and have the child they both want. All while dealing with the intense training and preparation the sport demands.
The love story between Grace and Drago is very nicely done and doesn't sway to the melodramatic. We get to know Drago as a strong and loving man. Private and protective of Grace without being domineering and abrasive. Grace has a quiet strength, and her love for Drago is clear and unwavering.
Don't worry if you have no knowledge of the sport; the fight scenes are brief, well written and are easily followed.
Some of the secondary cast are quite something in their own right. Carson Khaler is a lovely mess, Yves simply for being called the Friar and St. Clair's charm have me wanting more. Hopefully our author will branch off and give some of these men their own stories. (Fingers crossed!)
I have to say, being an MMA fan had me already in it's corner, but this was a really nicely done story. I hope that we hear more from this author in the near future.