Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover for a new contemporary romance from Laura Kaye. FIGHTING FOR EVERYTHING is the first book in her Warrior Fight Club series. It features a PTSD-plagued wounded vet, and the best friend of his life that he’s fallen hard for. I’ve loved RIDE HARD, and her veteran-centered HARD INK books too.
About the book:
Loving her is the biggest fight of his life…
Home from the Marines, Noah Cortez has a secret he doesn’t want his oldest friend, Kristina Moore, to know. It kills him to push her away, especially when he’s noticing just how sexy and confident she’s become in his absence. But, angry and full of fight, he’s not the same man anymore either. Which is why Warrior Fight Club sounds so good.
Kristina loves teaching, but she wants more out of life. She wants Noah—the boy she’s crushed on and waited for. Except Noah is all man now—in ways both oh so good and troubling, too. Still, she wants who he’s become—every war-hardened inch. And when they finally stop fighting their attraction, it’s everything Kristina never dared hope for.
But Noah is secretly spiraling, and when he lashes out, it threatens what he and Kristina have found. The brotherhood of the fight club helps him confront his demons, but only Noah can convince the woman he loves that he’s finally ready to fight for everything.
How about a little taste?
“Noah, are you down here?” Kristina called from the top of the basement steps.
Despite the lack of response, she continued down and crossed the room to the mostly closed door in the back corner–Noah’s bedroom since he’d returned just before last Christmas. God, Kristina had thought she’d received the best Christmas present ever–Noah, home from Iraq, safe and sound.
Well, mostly sound, anyway. An IED blast had taken the hearing and most of his vision on his left side, and he’d struggled with bad migraines and equilibrium problems when he’d first returned. But he was home and he was alive, and having him back again had made it feel like she could finally breathe after years of knowing he was in danger every second of every day.
She knocked softly. “Hey Noah, it’s me.”
All she heard was a long exhale of breath, but it was enough.
Why hadn’t he answered her? Her stomach clenched as she pushed open the door far enough to see Noah standing in the dark doorway to his bathroom, his back against the door jamb, his arms crossed, and his head hanging on his big shoulders.
She didn’t need to ask if he was okay, because he was radiating not okay loud and clear. Kristina walked right up to him. “What’s going on?” she asked. Dim light from the rec room filtered over him, allowing her to just make out the tight clench of his square jaw, the narrowed cast of his dark brown eyes, the harsh set of his beautiful mouth.
Wait. What? Where had that little observation come from?
Noah shook his head, forcing Kristina to drop the ridiculous line of thought.
She stepped closer so that she could look more directly into his eyes. “Come on, Noah. It’s me.” She ached for him to open up, but what she noticed even more was the low buzz rushing through her body. From how close she stood to all his taut hardness. It wasn’t like she was just noticing that Noah was hot, like, dayum hot, but nearly five years in the Marines had matured him and built hard muscle that hadn’t been there before. And clearly her body was just noticing, probably because they hadn’t had the chance to spend much time together since he’d gotten back.
“Kristina,” he said, his voice so low it was nearly a whisper, or a plea. He leaned his forehead against hers. It was such a sweet, needful gesture that Kristina’s chest seized.
“First, I’m hugging you. Then we’re talking, buddy,” she said, wrapping her arms around his big shoulders and planting her cheek against his chest. The embrace wasn’t unusual-they’d always been affectionate with each other. She’d lay against him while they watched a movie or he’d sling an arm over her shoulders while they were out together. When things were bad with her dad, he’d hold her when she finally gave into her grief about it and cried. That’s how they’d always been.
He embraced her right back and leaned his face against her hair.
After a long moment, Kristina pulled away–
Noah wouldn’t let her go. His grip on her tightened, and he held her fast against him. Was he breathing faster? Was he trembling?
Against her belly, he hardened.
Kristina’s breath caught in her throat. Noah was aroused…by her? Or just, like, in her general vicinity? Or…? She swallowed hard as her thoughts flew.
As they stood there, suspended in the dark, stolen moment, the air around them flashed hot and closed in, narrowing the world to all the places their bodies touched. His erection grew, pressing against her with more insistence. Heat bloomed over her skin everywhere and she held herself perfectly still. Because this was different. This was not friendly. This was more.
A strange tension wrapped around them, and it scared and attracted Kristina in equal measure. She shuddered out a breath as her body came to life against his. Her breathing quickened, her nipples peaked, her core clenched.
Noah made a noise in the back of his throat like a moan, and his arms tightened around her, pulling their bodies totally flush.
Kristina’s breath caught at the hard press of his body and at the shocking arousal it unleashed in her.
This is Noah. This is Noah. This is Noah.
But it didn’t seem to matter to her body. The soft cotton of her dress became heavy and irritating against her skin, and all she wanted was for it to be off. So he could be all over her. This sudden, intoxicating need was brand new to her-in general and certainly with Noah. She wasn’t a virgin, but she’d never felt with another man the kind of desire rocketing through her just then. And all they’d done was touch.
Why was this happening?
Her hips shifted without her meaning to do it, and it made her belly grind against all that hardness.
Noah hissed in her ear. His fingertips dug into her back…and then wandered, one hand pressing low against her hip, one skimming up her neck into her hair. Holding her tight. Bringing her closer.
She was half sure she was imagining that they were locked inside this raging bubble of attraction, except that his heart thundered beneath where her head rested, his breathing had gone rough, and his skin felt every bit as feverish as hers.
She had to stop this…whatever this was.
Tilting her head back, the words were on the tip of her tongue. Her eyes locked with his, and even in the dimness she could see that they were blazing hot and almost predatory in their directness. It stole her capacity to speak, because she was unequivocally sure he’d never looked at her like that. Need roared off of him and through her, making her heart beat like a bass drum.
Kristina swallowed hard. What would she do if he kissed her? One kissing experiment aside, she’d never had to ask that in regard to him. Another question followed close behind: what would she do if he didn’t?
Noah Cortez is seven months stateside after a disability discharge from the Marines. He’d been in the service five years, but a landmine stole his comrades, hearing and vision on the left side of his head. Besides the visible scars, Noah’s battling some pretty intense emotional shrapnel–which is why he’s tried to stay away form his childhood best-friend Kristina Moore.
Kristina knows something is seriously wrong with Noah; his lackluster attitude, hollowed eyes and fading body are big clues, but being present at one of his flashbacks is a wake-up call. FOr both of them. Noah’s depression and PTSD have been eating him alive, and he doesn’t want it to ruin his relationships, so he pulls away from everyone, especially when they tell him he’s not the nothing, damaged man he sees in his mirror, and feels in his mind.
Kristina, having lived with a parent with mental illness, wants to be Noah’s rock, but a new complication arises: their mutual attraction. They’d never been anything but platonic before, and now? They get steamy–for the moment. Noah’s sure that Kristina deserves better than a broken down, disabled vet, but she knows he’s her everything, and desperately wants to build a life together. Unfortunately, she learns he can’t return her love, not when he doesn’t love himself.
This is a great first book in a new series. The friends-to-lovers aspect was handled really well, with all the confusion that it can entail. Noah finds help in unexpected places–art therapy which leads him to fight therapy designed only for military enlisted and veterans. This Warrior Fight Club provides a safe space for Noah to work out his aggression and regain his balance, both emotionally and physically. He knows he probably doesn’t deserve another chance at loving Kristina, but he’s determined to be a better friend than he’d been when he returned home. I loved Kristina, and respected her struggles, and frustration, with Noah’s hot-and-cold attitude. It was great seeing Noah turn his life around, though I wished for a little more insight into his challenges once he started seeking treatment. That said, it’s got an upbeat ending and sets up new characters to carry the series forward.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in contemporary and erotic romance and romantic suspense, including the Blasphemy, Hard Ink, and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. Laura also writes historical fiction as the NYT bestselling author, Laura Kamoie. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.