Series: Bannon’s Gym #1
Author: Cat Grant
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novella (130 pages)
Publisher: Cat Grant (August 2013)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts
Blurb: Danny Bannon and Eddie Roscoe have been fighting in and out of the ring for more than 15 years, held together by mutual attraction and small town ties, yet kept apart by a shared tragedy that continues to haunt them. Their steady on-again off-again is shaken up by the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway trying to escape his tense home situation and his punch-happy dad.
In no time, the scrawny, homeless kid has shown himself to be a boxing prodigy, and building him up brings Danny and Eddie closer than they’ve been in ages. It seems that the three of them, plus Eddie’s mother, Gloria, are forming a new family unit, much tighter than anything Tom experienced in his difficult past.
But Tom’s politically influential father isn’t the only person he left behind, and when his mother shows up at Eddie and Gloria’s diner with a shiner and a haunted look in her eyes, Tom is hopeful for her future. But when that hope is snuffed out, Tom is ready to turn his new fighting skills to a deadly purpose: get revenge on his abusive father, or die trying.
It’s up to his surrogate big brothers, Danny and Eddie, to put their differences and their painful history aside to prevent another tragic ending.
Review: What a peculiar book this one was. I think if someone would read my mind about what I like in a contemporary romance this would be the result.
Here we have a book that has not one or two, but three main characters – and no it’s not a threesome. Danny and Eddie are in their thirties. They’ve been friends, they’ve been lovers, and they share a past that haunts them for fifteen years. As much as they love each other – that is a given here, there is no search for love or romance – they cannot reconcile with the pain their relationship has given them in the past. A ghost stands in between them, a memory so strong that every time they get together, their resulting breaks up gets stronger and the aftermath more painful.
Each tries to amend on their own, Danny turning to drinking himself stupid, becoming more and more the person he mostly hates, and Eddie trying to save the world while wallowing in a pit of guilt.
In the picture comes Tom, a homeless kid Eddie finds around his diner and decides to do what he’s known for, help him stand on his feet. Tom is a frightened kid marred by abuse, but his will to prevail is so strong, it’s downright scary. Between Danny and Eddie they manage to create a fighter out of Tom, give him confidence and tools to get on his life without having to look around his shoulders like a scared rabbit every time. Add in the mixture the mother figure of Gloria and the kid gets a bit more than he ever expected, love, and a semblance of a normal family. Until his real mother shows up and everything shatters once again.
I really, really loved this book. It had this incredible balance between love and friendship, pain and hurt. The evil of the story was bad enough to want to make you kill him yourself, yet he still maintain such a wonderful grasp with reality, not being overwhelming and not engaging in incredulous actions. His profiling was simply perfect for me.
The abusive past and the pain that came were also very well-balanced. The author showcased the horrors of everyday living in an abusive family without making it overbearing for the reader. The character’s emotions were enough to grip you without dragging you into darkness.
As for the blend of the romantic plot with the action part, you have a clear view of two stories moving in parallel, or should I say three, as there is the story between Danny and Eddie that origins from back fifteen years, there is the story of all three characters together as they move on, and there is the underlying romance between Eddie and Dannie that gets stronger the more they focus together into helping Tom. It was fantastic, one feeding the other and ending in the inevitable with such smoothness.
I the end I was left with a most enjoyable read that entertained and challenged me at the same time. However this book felt as a standalone and I’m curious what the author will do with the next one? Will this trio continue or is it going to be Dannie and Eddie with a new charge? Will it be two completely different characters in the same setting? Normally I get a pretty clear idea from a series as to what to expect next, but this time I’m wondering, and that’s what makes it even more intriguing.
As for this one, if you like strong characters, men who fight through their ugly and persist when things seem to be hopeless in a very realistic setting, and a romance that comes effortlessly without dragging the main plot under it, then this is definitely a book you will want to read. Strongly recommended!