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Friday, October 2, 2015

Tasty Book Tours: Breaking a Legend by Sarah Robinson (Review, Exerpt + Giveaway)

MMA romances are new to me, I don’t watch it on tv and I wouldn’t know any of the fighters even if they were wearing a blinking neon sign. However with the right author, an MMA fighter can be one hell of a character!

About Sarah:

Sarah Robinson is the bestselling author of The Photographer Trilogy and the Sand & Clay rock star series.

A native of Washington, D.C., Robinson has both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal psychology.

She is married to a local police officer who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiast as she is. Together, they own a zoo of rescue and foster animals.

Find Author:

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: September 29, 2015

As one of the big names at his family’s gym, Legends, MMA star Rory Kavanagh is used to being in the spotlight—until a gruesome leg injury knocks him out of the cage. Rory is left feeling sidelined in more ways than one, battling the inner demons that come with losing the one shot at his dreams. Then Clare walks into his life and gives him a new dream: winning her heart. There aren’t many new faces in Woodlawn these days, but this tough, beautiful stranger makes Rory want to get his life back into fighting shape.

Clare Ivers doesn’t think she’ll be able to tell anyone what really brought her to the close-knit Bronx neighborhood where she just started bartending. But her life’s on pause and her past is catching up fast, try as she might to move on—with new friends, steady work, and a chiseled alpha male trying to get her attention. Even though Rory’s more than a little intense, she can’t deny that her heart beats faster when he looks at her with those soulful silver eyes. Clare thought she was done with love, but Rory might just be man enough to show her she thought wrong.

Angry and bitter after a serious injury forces him out of the spotlight, MMA fighter Rory Kavanaugh is on a downward spiral that no one seems to be able to help him out of. He may be one of the main draws to Legends, his family owned and operated gym, but Rory is in no mood to be hassled over his behavior. Until he meets the new girl in town.

Clare Ivers is the newest bartender in town and all she wants is to be left alone. She’s hiding her own demons and doesn’t want to make time for a man like Rory who reminds her of why she’s in the small Bronx neighborhood. Unfortunately there are some major sparks between her and the former fighter that won’t be ignored.

Breaking a Legend is one of my favorite MMA romances this year and I don’t say that lightly. Sometimes those MMA romances can get too wrapped up in what goes on in the ring and the fighters’ training that the romance and characters’ personalities suffer. Sarah Robinson did a great job of making it clear that Rory was an MMA fighter at heart but that it was no longer the center of his life. Instead, Robinson focused on the aftermath of Rory’s being forced out of the career he loved. Breaking a Legend didn’t go into a dark place but it didn’t gloss over Rory’s problems finding his place when he could no longer fight either.

Damaged characters are the best in my opinion because they can pretty much go in any direction. They’re not goody two shoes but they’re not horrible either. They’re somewhere in the middle, constantly fighting an internal battle. Rory had a lot of baggage that he had to sort through and let go of and while there were aspects of his personality that were unattractive, they were part of that baggage and he knew it. He was a great character because he didn’t deny that he was “messed up” or that he needed to clean up. It didn’t mean he was going to magically get cured, but he didn’t keep dragging others down with him either.

I didn’t immediately like the guy though, that came later when it was revealed that he spent some of his time doing something that I myself am working towards. It wasn’t just that Rory gave his time, it was the reason why he did it that put me firmly in his corner. That just made me love this character so freaking much! Did I mention he also has a dog? Yeah, there’s something to be said for a character who is physically intimidating but who has a soft spot for his dog. I just fell so hard for Rory that while he may have brothers who will get their own story, it’s always going to be Rory Kavanaugh for me.

And it would be so easy to write Clare off as a scared little girl but once she tells her story the fear is totally justified. She’s a woman on her own, with no one to turn to so she’s done the best she can. I admired her to try and restart her life. She had a plan to save herself and even if it wasn’t the best plan, it was still something she was doing to save herself. Clare is all kinds of wounded, scared and emotionally scarred but the fact that she retained her kind heart made it obvious that she could show Rory a different kind of life. She brought out the softness in him, a gentle side that was hidden so deep inside the angry ex-fighter it seemed that Clare had her work cut out for her. I may even be able to forgive Clare for not stepping in to try and protect a minor character that stole my heart.

Rory and Clare’s romance is remarkably slow to develop even with the scorching chemistry but to me it made the slide into love sweeter and a lot more believable. Rory took time to “court” Clare, taking into consideration that she was hesitant of him, wary of his intentions and scared of the feelings she was developing for him. He had the same reaction to her too. His arrogance around the opposite sex went right out the window with Clare and it brought out a more likable side to him. He was no longer the brute with a temper, he was the lost boy who needed someone to believe he was more than a fighter.

Scene Stealer Alert: Ace, Rory’s pitbull who was rescued from a life of dog fighting. The author shined a brief but very real light on the plight of these misunderstood dogs and on abused dogs in general. Ace may have been a minor character in Breaking a Legend but that didn’t make him less important or adorable than anyone else in the book.

Final Verdict: Breaking a Legend was not only a good romance story but it had a lot of heart and heartache in it. I felt that it was a well rounded story with not only a likable pair of lead characters but a strong supporting cast (and adorable dog) as well.

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Rory felt his jaw drop slightly as he watched her, his interest piqued. He wasn’t normally one to let a girl walk away without snagging her phone number, but something about her told him that she wasn’t the type to give that away so easily.

“Already hitting the latest talent?” Quinn came up beside his older brother and handed him a beer.

“Fuck off, Quinn,” Rory ribbed, surprised at how light he felt at the moment. It had been some time since he had laughed at all, he realized, as he downed the beer Quinn gave him.

A third brother, Kane, appeared behind Quinn a few seconds later, nodding at Rory. No one would know those three were related if it wasn’t for the famous Kavanagh name.

Quinn was the odd man out in the group of brothers, with his straight black hair, clean-shaven face, and snakelike black eyes. Quinn had even added to his differences by covering his arms and chest with tattoos that peeked out from under his sleeves and shirt collar, along with piercings on both ears and several other places.

“You coming to Ma’s tomorrow?” Kane asked Rory, leaning his back against the bar.

His body was turned to face Rory, but he was obviously scoping out the bar as his dark blue eyes peered around the room. Rory followed Kane’s stare, noticing more than a few heads turned in their direction. He didn’t bother rushing to answer his brother, since Kane’s attention was clearly elsewhere.

The Kavanagh brothers were well known in the Bronx, especially Woodlawn, but even if they weren’t, the group of athletic men was hard not to stare at. Several women on the other side of the bar were giggling, batting eyelashes, and attempting flirty glances as they openly gawked at the three men.

Rory knew Kane was a notorious ladies’ man; he watched him smile eagerly at a woman passing by. Everyone had always told him that Kane resembled Rory the most out of all the Kavanagh brothers, which was ironic since Kane was one in a set of twins. Rory wasn’t as close to Kane’s twin, Kieran, who was currently serving time in prison. They had had a falling-out before Kieran landed up in jail and not gotten around to resolving things between them yet.

Considering their similar dark brown hair, scruffy beards, and muscular build, the biggest difference Rory could see between himself and Kane, aside from their eye color, was that Rory liked to let his hair grow to chin length, leaving the wavy locks down to frame his face. He liked his longer style versus Kane’s short hair, and most of the women he found himself around seemed to share that opinion.

One woman had even told him he appeared medieval, as if he could be her knight in shining armor. That was a comparison that still eluded him, since his refusal to settle down or be in any type of serious relationship usually had women calling him much different things, none of them very pleasant.

Pulling back his attention to his brothers, Rory purposefully stayed noncommittal, though he knew Sundays at the Kavanagh house really weren’t optional. Not if their mother had anything to say about it.

“What about Monday, coming to Legends?” Quinn asked, nodding suggestively at one of the women watching them, as he referred to the MMA club and gym that the Kavanagh family owned a few blocks over.

“I can’t start training yet.” Rory pushed his hand through his hair, wanting to avoid the topic.

He was suddenly feeling a lot more sober than he liked, wanting his brothers to leave so he could slip a few more pills out of his pocket undetected. The numbing feeling they had brought earlier was already wearing off.

“It’s been over a year since the fight, man. The hell you can’t train—you’re Rory ‘Knockout’ Kavanagh, best MMA fighter in New York!” Quinn said sarcastically and slightly louder than was necessary.

“New York? Try the entire nation, Quinn,” Kane added, a swell of pride in his voice as he beamed at Rory.

“Was, guys. Past tense.” Rory spoke through gritted teeth as his hand touched his own knee, feeling the thick scars through the fabric of his pants, gruesome evidence of the injury that had ended his mixed martial arts career. The bottle of pills was now burning a hole in his pocket as he thought about how badly he wanted some relief.

“Maybe it would be present tense if you didn’t reek of booze all the damn time,” Kane said, daring him to counter the statement. Rory took a slow, deep breath to calm himself. He loved his brothers, but he didn’t need their pity.

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