Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch? Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.
OK, everyone knows there is one book in every long series that just doesn’t live up to the standard of the rest of the series. For me and the Worth the Fight series, Below the Belt is that book.
Francesca Silva is the co-owner of WtF gym. She is seriously badass with her sharp tongue, quick wit, no bullshit, totally well-dressed self. There is no messing with Francesca and everyone around her knows that. She is no nonsense and often cold which has left Francesca extremely successful in her career but lacking in the close friends and lovers department. What most people, even those she deals with on a regular basis don’t know is that Francesca doesn’t really want to be the person she has become but has found her armor to be a necessary evil meant to protect her from the pain she experienced when her only serious relationship broke up in a truly ugly way.
Francesca’s coup for WtF is the signing of Tony “Scarface” Marino, a world-class fighter with a reputation for partying, womanizing, and brawling. Tony’s public appearance is currently in the crapper and he has no interest in seriously training. Oh, and there is the small matter of his current temper tantrum related to the fact that he can’t have Francesca Silva. Tony has pulled out what he thinks are all his best moves and nothing seems to work on the ice queen. All Francesca seems to be interested in is yelling at Tony and nagging him to train. For the first time in his life, Tony isn’t getting his way and a woman isn’t falling over herself to be with him. WTF??? And I don’t mean the gym . . . .
If Tony wants to achieve his goal of getting Francesca into bed he has to get himself into shape and get serious about his wooing. When Tony finally begins to put his mind and body into his training the results are really good and Francesca notices. She yells less, Tony acts more like an adult than a petulant child, and the walls between the two begin to break down. Tony is surprised by Francesca’s relative inexperience and Francesca is surprised by Tony’s real personality that is often hidden behind his public persona. As the two become closer, each has to deal with their respective baggage and for both, there is a lot of baggage and a lot to overcome. Old habits die hard and despite their attraction one another, both Francesca and Tony have a tendency to retreat to their safe place which causes more problems for them as a couple.
The Bottom Line: Below the Belt is just an OK for read for me. I can’t honestly say I got fired up about either Francesca or Tony but I also can’t say I dislike either character. Their story is fairly tame given what’s come before (Jack/Chrissy and Slade/Jessica) which makes Tony and Francesca’s story less dramatic and crazy. They have some slightly crazy moments, some very sweet and tender moments, and even some funny moments but nothing over the top. Clearly, I need dramatic and crazy in my life J With all of this being said, Below the Belt is still a worthwhile read and necessary to the overall enjoyment and understanding of the Worth the Fight series as a whole.
About the author and where to find her:
Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”–Mark Twain. Or even simpler, “Just Do It”—Nike. And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red.That first pen stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing.
Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children. She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading. She’s a reader first and a writer second. When she’s not writing or reading, her life is complete and utter chaos, trying to balance family life with work and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.