Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new M/M sports romance from Rie Warren. I’ve really liked her M/F romance, including Carolina Bad Boys STONE, LOVE, STEELE and CHROME, so I was excited to check out this new series. IN THE RING features a closeted gay boxer and the sexy trainer he falls for.
About the book:
The biggest fight of his life isn’t . . . In the Ring.
The bright lights. The roaring crowd. The chance at a championship belt. The not-so-little secret Liam Shaughnessy—the Bonny Bruiser—is fighting to keep tucked far away.
Liam got the pussy pounded out of him on the mean streets of Cin-city—the other Sin City. The oldest in a Catholic clan where his da never pulled any punches, he went from geek boy to the golden boy of the boxing world care of his fists. Liam’s on the fast track to having it all . . . all except the one man he wants.
Michael Fairweather makes pretending to be hetero goddamn difficult for Liam. The man is blond and beautiful and just so happens to be Liam’s trainer. With a penchant for doing shirtless yoga, giving midnight massages to loosen Liam’s muscles, and sometimes even taking it out in the ring with him. To say Liam has porn-style fantasies about Michael is an understatement.
Michael’s out and proud. Liam’s only proud of what he can do in the ring. He can’t risk his career, least of all for someone unavailable. Michael has a lover. Liam has the lies he lives every day. And when his money-grubbing manager gets involved as the title win approaches, Liam doesn’t know what hit him.
Fight to win. Fight with honor. It won’t be easy, but that’s okay. Nothing worth fighting for ever is.
Liam Shaughnessy survived an abusive childhood and the mean streets of Cincinnati. He’s fought and trained to rise out of the underground bareknuckle boxing circuit into the heavyweight boxing matches. Having money means he can take care of his mother and three younger siblings. It also means he can afford luxuries like his own training staff and management. It doesn’t mean he can afford to come out, however.
Michael Fairweather has fought his way back from a debilitating injury in soccer to become a take-no-nonsense boxing trainer to Liam, on his path to the championship belt. He’s also out-and-proud, and exactly the man Liam would date, if he could date a man, that is. Also, Mikey has a long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart, Wade, and that’s pretty complicated.
When Mikey learns that Liam’s not straight, that Liam’s been pining for Michael for more than a year now, Michael’s in a bad position. And Liam’s heart is set to be smashed.
This book moves a little fast for me, with periods of prose (especially at the beginning) that felt more like I was being told the story, than that I was engaged in the story. So, it wasn’t until maybe halfway through that I got invested. Liam’s a decent guy in a tough spot. He wants to win the heavyweight championship so he can financially support his family, though this was a bit of a side plot, really, and he wants to have a loving relationship with Michael. Michael has a lot of passive-aggressive nonsense going on, with odd fits of jealousy whenever Liam’s posed with women. This didn’t make much sense, considering Michael has a man, and fully believed Liam was straight. I did understand, later, when they were together, how this would rankle, but the early jealousy was mystifying, for me. I had trouble bonding with these characters, because they didn’t read as fleshed-out as I’d like, and I got frustrated with Liam’s constant obeisance to his homophobic manager. Liam didn’t seem willing to stand up for himself, ever, and that was troubling for a man who’s all about power and strength in the ring. Further, Michael seems trifling and spoiled, with little concern but his own emotional well-being. As a side issue, the time-frame of the boxing and boxing-related activities seemed too compressed, something the sports fan in me railed against strongly. It made for circumstances that taxed my ability to suspend disbelief, though I doubt many readers follow boxing enough for it to raise concerns for them.
In all, there’s some good feels, including desire, elation, joy of having love returned and some more heartbreaking moments, too. Expect sexytimes, big growth of a geek-turned-street-fighter-turned-boxer and an HEA.
About the Author:
Badass, sassafras Rie Warren is the author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series—a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command.
She lives in gorgeous Charleston, South Carolina with her small family where she basks in the sunshine during the day, and adjourns to her woman cave at night. A nocturnal creature, she stays up way too late talking to herself, her characters, and anyone who will listen. She’s all about writing with heat, heart, and a hint of the dark, and she doesn’t shy away from the impossible.
Rie’s work has been called “edgy”, “daring”, and “some of the sexiest smut around”.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!