by Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #2
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
An up-and-coming MMA fighter wants more than just one night from a woman fleeing her past in New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster’s irresistible new novel. Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn’t share. That’s why he’s been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry’s about to need more than she knows… Denver’s combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she’s been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can’t hide behind a carefree facade. Because the man by her side is one who’ll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she’ll trust him enough to let him…
Lord have mercy. Lori Foster knows just how to curl my toes and make me swoon. Holding Strong is the second novel in her Ultimate series featuring MMA fighters, their friends and the women they love. Packed with suspense, heat and heart I completely became caught up in Holding Strong.
Cherry Penton is one of those gals who glows, thinks positively and gathers friends to her like a moth to a flame. A little flirty, sometimes shy, she is roomies with Merissa. She frequents the fights and club, and engages with the same inner circle of friends. She has been crushing hard on Denver Lewis but the man does not seem to notice her. Oddly enough, the man in question cannot stop thinking about her, and between you and me, I think his feelings and thoughts scare the man. Fate happens, and these two hook up. Only things get complicated when Cherry’s past arrives in the guise of family, bringing up old fears and placing her in danger. Now she has to decide if Denver’s alpha tendencies to protect are because he truly cares about her or because he is built to protect.
Denver is a typical alpha with controlling tendencies. Pretty much, what you would expect of an MMA fighter with his roots. While sometimes I wanted to hit him in the back of the head, he has a soft, caring, and respectful side that made me swoon. Cherry is a survivalist and use to handling her own affairs, so letting Denver in feels a little like having a yellow stripe down her back. It was interesting watching this relationship develop. We get heat, ogling and some tender moments along with character growth as their relationship progresses.
Foster has an uncanny gift for making her characters authentic. Every action, every reaction felt genuine and I appreciate that about her characters. Are they perfect? Oh heck no, but she fleshes them out and allows them to grow. Armie, a secondary character who is over the top but oh so lovable sees huge growth in Holding Strong and really steps up. I cannot wait for his and Merissa story. Ooo and the things that are up with Vanity. I cannot wait! We see all of the key players, and get closer to some of them. Foster gives her books this small-town, family feel in an urban setting and I have a blast every time I visit. This series is a spin-off from her Love Undercover series and we get to spend some time at Rowdy’s.
Holding Strong has a suspenseful thread that puts our characters in danger, particularly Cherry. It was dark with villains that will make your skin crawl. The stories we learn about a character’s past made me shiver. Be warned there was abuse both mental and physical.
Holding Strong was another winner and one I recommend to fans of heated romantic suspense, MMA fighters and alpha males. Tough Love is the next book, due out in August, and will feature Vanity and Stack. While each of these books work as a standalone I recommend reading them in order.