Today is the blog tour stop for Gina L. Maxwell’s Sweet Victory! Grab your copy of this sexy new MMA fighter romance and follow along the tour today!
About Sweet Victory
Sophie Caldwell might not like asking for help, but help is what she needs if she’s going to save her family business from her uncle. Her grandma left one rule for Sophie if she wants to gain sole ownership before she’s thirty—get married. Yeah, fat chance of that happening since she hasn’t had a boyfriend in years, and now she can’t get her uncle off her ass.
British-born MMA fighter Xander James has never lost a fight, and he’s not about to start now. He’s on the brink of a comeback that could make him a UFC champion, but his landlord wants to take away his last chance by shutting down his gym. Hell, no. Fortunately, his landlord’s niece has a problem of her own. Time for a proposal she can’t refuse.
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Xan’s body had tensed more with every minute he listened. Then Caldwell insulted Sophie, making Xander’s blood boil and his fists curl tight. The only thing she could do to stop the sale was get married, and the snide bastard flat out told her he didn’t believe for a second it would ever happen, now or ever.
What a bunch of bullshit. Xan would bet Sophie had men panting after her on the regular, and if her relationships didn’t last, it was probably because they couldn’t hold a candle to her raging fire.
That wouldn’t be the case if they ever got together, at least not in the bedroom. He would match her flame for flame until they incinerated everything around them. He’d been on the verge of letting those torrid images get the best of him again when the cruel words of her uncle smacked him back to the present.
“…the only way to acquire the trust is through a legitimate marriage. Considering your track record with men, I think we both know what the likelihood of that is.”
Fucking hell! To hear him speak so callously to a woman—his own niece—brought back painful memories of growing up hearing his father berate and belittle Xander’s mother. It’s why he often got involved in situations that were none of his business. He couldn’t stomach witnessing a woman being bullied.
Xan was going to make the tosser choke on his own words.
He stalked out to the front door, reached up, and flicked the little bell to signal his “arrival.” Turning around, he faced a perplexed Kristin who opened her mouth, presumably to ask if he’d fallen off his rocker. He held a finger up to his lips and shot her a look he hoped would brook no argument. She simply raised a single brow with interest.
Xan spoke loud enough for his voice to travel down the hallway to Sophie and her uncle. “Hello, Kristin, you’re looking lovely as ever,” he said, walking toward the hall. “Just popping in to see my girl after my run. Tell Billy I said hello, yeah?” Then he proceeded to eat up the short distance to reach the office.
Acting as though he had every right to barge in without knocking or asking for permission, he swung the door in wide just as she was approaching, hopefully to throw the asshole out of her office. Sophie’s chocolate eyes widened in surprise, her red-stained lips opening on a gasp.
“There you are, sweetheart.”
That’s all she got out before his large hands took hold of her face and he slanted his mouth over hers for a claiming kiss. He wasn’t the sort of man to greet his woman with a chaste peck, but rather one of possession and ownership. One that marked her as his alone, without question, without challenge.
Only he hadn’t known that about himself until the moment his lips touched Sophie’s.
Mine. So fucking mine.
Guest Post: Why I Wrote a Series About MMA Fighters
About fifteen years ago, my husband and his friends were watching television, shouting and arguing and gesturing like crazed lunatics. “What in the world are you guys watching?” I asked. “UFC,” he replied. I stared blankly at him. “You know, MMA.” I rolled my eyes and just barely stopped myself from pointing out that one acronym does not automatically explain another, I moved to look for myself. By the way they were carrying on, I expected to find a football game or something of the like, but what I saw had my jaw unhinging and my eyes bugging out of my head.
Two extremely well-built men in an octagonal cage, beating the living tar out of each other. Blood was gushing from a gash over one guy’s eye, the other one’s cheek was so swollen you couldn’t even tell he had a right eye, and yet neither of them let up. It wasn’t like boxing where they wore gigantic padded gloves, danced around each other and exchanged punches. These guys wore barely padded, fingerless gloves. And there was very little, if any, dancing. If they weren’t striking at each other with punches, then they were landing body shots with a well-placed kick or knee. And if they decided that wasn’t good enough, they’d shoot into their opponent’s hips, driving them into the mat and then do what’s called a ground-and-pound, or grapple like wrestlers until they could maneuver one of many special submissions causing the other guy to tap out (give up), choked them unconscious, or the ref called the fight.
I was appalled. I turned my head, unable to witness such utter brutality. I spoke up and passed judgment on every guy in my living room, telling them they were all barbaric morons for watching something so horrendous. After that, the guys must have decided it was better to watch the matches at someone else’s house, because I never saw or heard anything about the UFC (which stands for Ultimate Fighting Challenge and MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts) for a long time after that.
A few years later I was reintroduced to it, but this time, instead of judging it for what I thought looked like a slightly more organized version of Fight Club, I took the time to actually watch (through squinty, wincing eyes) and ask questions. The more I watched and learned, the more I respected the hell out of the guys man enough to enter the octagon.
MMA fighters are modern-day gladiators, stepping into a caged arena with an opponent who has the potential to utterly (though, thankfully, not fatally) destroy him.* The fights aren’t uncoordinated bar brawls. These men are experts in more forms of fighting than Kim Kardashian in forms of shopping.
They train—and damn hard—for years, sometimes from the time they were children, mastering multiple forms of martial arts, wrestling, and boxing. And when they step into that cage, they do so with the utmost respect for the sport and their opponent.
Once I took the time to learn about it and truly appreciate what it is they do as athletes, it became a family pastime. We’ve watched hundreds of matches over the years and several seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (a reality show where fighters trying to make a serious career of the sport are given the chance to fight their way to a six-figure contract with the UFC). When my daughter was only seven years old, she used to tell people that her favorite fighter was “Chocolate Dell” (Chuck Lidell). It was one of the most adorable things ever. Just as some families are huge hockey fans or baseball fans, our family is huge UFC fans.
My mother feels as I originally did about it. She hates it, thinks it’s nothing more than a show of commercialized brutality, and has made it clear on multiple occasions that she doesn’t agree with us letting our kids watch it. She’s not alone. As I mentioned in Seducing Cinderella book, a lot of people call it human cockfighting and refuse to see it any other way.
But I urge them to take a step back from that strong stance and objectively study what MMA is at its very core. Because I assure you, I have seen more displays of good sportsmanship at the end of UFC fights—even between bitter rivals—than I have in any other “normal” sport. I’ve seen numerous documentaries of these fighters, showing them as loving husbands and fathers, men who give back to their communities, men who take the time to teach the sport they love to young people and ensure they grow up with just as much respect for it as they did.
I know writing a romance with MMA heroes isn’t the most effective way to educate people on the sport and its athletes. Nor was that my intention when I started the series five years ago. But I did want to make sure I depicted my heroes as so much more than fighters.
I absolutely loved writing the Fighting for Love series. Each of the books brought a little more of the MMA world into the stories with a new, sexy fighter who does whatever it takes to win, both in the cage and out. It’s bittersweet that I’ve closed the series with the fourth book, Sweet Victory. But you never know what will happen. A spin-off series with all four couples in the future is always a possibility. ;)
*I recognize that there are many female MMA fighters as well, and they are just as impressive as the men.
Enter Gina’s Giveaway
Gina L. Maxwell Bio
Gina L. Maxwell is a full-time writer, wife, and mother living in the upper Midwest, despite her scathing hatred of snow and cold weather. An avid romance novel addict, she began writing as an alternate way of enjoying the romance stories she loves to read. Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, hit both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists in less than four weeks, and she’s been living her newfound dream ever since.
When she’s not reading or writing steamy romance novels, she spends her time losing at Scrabble (and every other game) to her high school sweetheart, doing her best to hang out with their teenagers before they fly the coop, and dreaming about her move to sunny Florida once they do.
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