Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Down and Out (Knockout Love #1) by Kelley R. Martin ~ Review

Down and Out (Knockout Love #1)Source: e-ARC copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Down and Out (Knockout Love #1) by Kelley R. Martin

*Don’t read this book if you don’t like snarky, dominant, tattooed men who say things like “Open your mouth, and I will,” after you tell them to shove it. And don’t read this book if you don’t like sassy, strong-willed, fiercely independent heroines who use phrases like “bossy asshole” as a term of endearment. You have been warned.*

“Tattooed package of sin.” 

That’s how Savannah Ryan would describe her new boss, Declan Whitmore, the deliciously tatted and pierced fighter who holds the top spot in Boston’s newest underground fighting organization. She’d also describe him as bossy, arrogant, and—depending on what he does to piss her off that particular day—an asshole.

It’s that aloof attitude, along with Savannah’s witty comebacks and tight little body that land her on his radar. Unfortunately for her, Declan is relentless when he sets his sights on someone, both in and out of the ring. Unfortunately for him, this recently reformed bad girl is trying to go straight after heading down a dangerous path. She’s not going to make this easy for him. In fact, she’s going to make it—and him—very, very hard.

Declan’s not worried, though. He’ll have Savannah come hell or high water, because if there’s one word he’d use to describe her, it’s “MINE.”


I was drawn to this book because the synopsis reminded me of some books I have mad love for. (Ever read anything by Katy Evans? Her books are fab.) So I figured that if this story sounded like it was cut from the same cloth, I'd be in booklover heaven reading this one. Turns out, I was wrong. Down and Out is not along the same lines as those Katy Evans books. Instead, Down and Out is a solid story that drew me in and held my attention, then left me with an incredibly satisfied feeling once I'd made it through the whole roller coaster of a story to the end. 

The characters were incredibly well developed. Who they are gets established quickly, and those impressions get built on more and more as the story progresses. The way the book started out put the characters in a very blunt light, but that ended up working well when more attributes were established later on. The female lead, Savannah, is stubborn. And feisty. And she did get on my nerves from time to time, but her attitude was a definitive point about her, which I loved. She wasn't a shy, abused girl just trying to get by. She was a strong, snarky person doing what she had to do to survive. I have so much respect for her.

The male lead is Declan. I adore that name, almost as much as I adore this GUY. The picture that was painted of him in the beginning left me worried I wouldn't be able to love him as much as I always hope to fall for my book boyfriend. But then flash forward a couple of chapters and BAM. Nice guy Declan shined his way through and I fell hook, line, and sinker. I'm still under the Declan influence right now. He's not perfect, but he's worth time, and he's worth my emotions. He, along with Savannah, grew in this novel, and that makes me feel happy.

The synopsis implies that this book is going to fall into the trope of a fighter and the one girl who changes him, etc etc. But...that's not what this story is. Yes, there's a fighter. Yes, there's THAT GIRL. But there are more than enough unique details and events to set this story apart from the others. So much so that I almost question whether or not it should be placed in the same category as the other fighter books. (But I concede because I do love me some fighter dudes.) Not only did Martin throw in a pleasant unique flare to this novel, but the execution was fabulous. My predictions were thrown for a loop, and that was fun.

On the romantic front, I both loved and somewhat disliked this aspect. I'd say I'm leaning more toward love, though. Declan and Savannah's banter was so amusing, reading this book flew by without a problem. And them as a couple is just RIGHT. My heart danced pretty much every time they were together or made relationship progress. So the romance did its job in making me swoon and fan myself. But there were also aspects that got on my nerves. The tension was fun at times, but other times, I wanted these two to TALK. Communication, y'all. They needed to practice the concept. That's the root of the facets I didn't like in the romance--they didn't discuss something they SHOULD have been open with each other about, and then things got all strained. I understand tension, which can work sometimes. But adding unnecessary strain on a relationship I love was bothersome.

Overall, Down and Out was such a great read! Strong characters, swoon-worthy romance, and a compelling story made this book a serious winner for me. I definitely plan on reading the next book in this series when it releases, and I am so excited!

4 stars - A fresh, entertaining NA read with strong characters and great romance!

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