Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Fighting Shadows by Aly Martinez - Book Tour

 Flint’s highly anticipated emotional story  is FINALLY here!  
**Each book in the series can be read as a standalone**

Fighting Shadows (On The Ropes, Book 2) by Aly Martinez
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I come from a family of fighters. I always thought I’d follow in their shadows, becoming unstoppable in the ring. That changed the day I saved the life of a woman I loved, but could never have.

My brother hailed me as a hero, and my reward was a wheelchair.

Paralyzed, my life became an inescapable nightmare.

Until I met her.

Ash Mabie had a heart-stopping smile and a laugh that numbed the rage and resentment brewing inside of me. She showed me that even the darkest night still had stars, and it didn’t matter one bit that you had to lie in the weeds to see them.

I was a jaded asshole who fell for a girl with a knack for running away. I couldn’t even walk but I would have spent a lifetime chasing her.

Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting the shadows of our past.
Fighting to reclaim my future.
Fighting for her.

My Review:

Thank you to TRSOR Promotions and Aly Martinez for allowing me to be part of this book tour. :)

Fighting Shadows is the second book in Aly Martinez's On The Ropes series. While each book can technically be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading them in order.

The first book, Fighting Silence, focuses on Till Page, the oldest of three brothers. Till is the father figure to his two younger brothers, Flint and Quarry,  due to his deadbeat parents, and he raises them with the help of his childhood best friend, lover and eventual wife, Eliza. Even though couple is struggling with Till's impending deafness and their less than ideal circumstances, Till claws his way to the top in the professional boxing world, eventually being crowned the heavy weight champion of the world. Finally able to provide for their little family as they've always dreamed of, Till and Eliza get their happily ever after....with a major sacrifice. 
While at a boxing match, Eliza is assaulted and would be dead if not for the intervention of the middle brother, Flint. Flint has been in love with Eliza for as long as he can remember, and is horrified at himself for having such thoughts for his idealized brother's wife. When Eliza is threatened, Flint thinks nothing of jumping in front of a bullet to protect her. The consequence of his heroic action leaves him paralyzed from the waist down, and he may never walk again.

"I don't know what to do. I'm so fucking bitter, Eliza. I don't even know why most of the time. I mean, of course there's the obvious," 
I looked down at my legs. 
"But God, it's so much more than that. I'm starting to hate him because I love you, yet at the same time, he's my brother and I love him, but hate you so fucking much for loving him too."

Fighting Shadows picks up right where Fighting Silence left off. We learn more of Flint's prognosis, and watch as he spirals down into anger, resentment and jealousy. At 19 years old and the threat of never walking again hanging over his head, he moves out of his brother's house, not being able to bear seeing the woman he loves with another man. 
In a strange twist of fate he meets Ash Mabie, daughter of a con man and pickpocketing expert. With her relentless tenacity and unfailing humor, she manages to worm her way past Flint's hard exterior and falls for the man beneath. It's not smooth sailing for our couple though, and Flint and Ash must clear many hurdles before they get their happily ever after. 

Fighting Silence has been one of my best reads of 2015, and a huge 5 star read for me. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel. Aly Martinez has an effortless writing style that is impossible to put down, and I devoured this book in a day. Her stories are raw and relatable, and her characters are addictive.

That fucking mouth would be the end of me. I loved it when she used it to smile, and even more when she used it to laugh, but it was so much better when it was moving against mine.

I loved Flint. He held nothing back, and he didn't sugarcoat what he was feeling. His drive for success was so admirable, and his love for his family as obvious, even when he was in a very dark place. Even though he's been dealt a shit hand and is justifiable angry, he didn't wallow in self pity like some many male protagonists. 
Flint was raw and aloof, vulnerable and strong, brave and terrified all at the same time. There was so much depth to his character, and his character arc was fascinating to watch. The way he managed and worked so, so hard to overcome his disability was inspiring. His voice was easy to fall into and I really connected with his character.

She's the smartest person I've ever met, but she's so fucking naive. 

I strongly disliked Ash. The book spans several years, and starts out with Ash being 16 years old and ending at around 23. She was obnoxious, flighty, whiny and ditzy. With words like "newsies" (for something new) constantly coming out of her mouth, I wanted to choke her on more than one occasion. She did have some growth towards the end of the novel, but nothing like Flint's or anything close to what she needed to redeem herself in my eyes.
I was truly surprised at how naive this girl was. Yes, that's just something that comes along with being a teenager, but...she's the daughter of a con artist, and she's repeatedly used by him to pickpocket and steal. She viewed the world through rose-colored glasses, and while I admire a positive outlook on life in the face of adversity, her's was so excessive it wasn't realistic.

"I have waiting so long to have you, Ash. I have so much to apologize for, but this... tonight.... with you...will never be one of them."

One thing that really bugged me about this book was that there was no real climax. She runs away and he gets her back, but it didn't feel like a climax and there wasn't anything major until the very end, and even then it wasn't anything to do with them at all! It was setting up for the third brother's book! I just kept waiting and waiting for something major to happen. There was some buildup and it just fizzled out. It says something about Martinez's writing that I wasn't too frustrated with that, and could still enjoy the story.

"Is this about you being in a wheelchair? Because I have never known you without it. I. Don't. Care. If you never walk again. Your legs are not the part I fell in love with."

I did wind up liking the relationship between Flint and Ash, though I was very hesitant at first. While they had some good chemistry, I still read Flint as having stronger feelings for Eliza in the first part of the book than he did for Ash in the majority of the book.

"When I was nineteen years old I fell in love with a girl who changed my life by showing me that even the darkest nights still had stars, and it didn't matter one bit that you had to lie in the weeds to see them. We were kids and I barely knew her, but I loved her. I should have been there while she grew up, but I was a fool. Now I have the woman back and I have every intention of making her fall in love with me again, and this time... I'm never letting go. "

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and engaging with good character development. It didn't come close to comparing to Fighting Silence, which I was a bit bummed over, but it was still a good read and one I would recommend.


Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: New adult, contemporary romance
Series: Book two in On The Ropes
POV: Alternating 1st person
Steam/sexual content: Some steam, some smut, but it's not erotica
Warnings: None
Cliffhanger: Not for the main characters
HEA: Yes
ARC provided for review


“Hey, Flint? What time is it?” Quarry asked.
Ash’s smile actually slipped completely. For the briefest of seconds, she appeared almost ashamed.
I dragged my eyes away from her in order to answer his question, but as I looked at my wrist, I had no answer at all.
“Here,” she said as she pulled my watch from her pocket.
What. The. Fuck?
Quarry howled with laughter, and Ash chewed on her bottom lip.
“Explain,” I demanded, wrapping my watch back around my wrist and shoving my wallet in the front pocket of my hoodie.
Quarry filled in the blank. “She’s a pickpocket, dude. You should have seen her when she fell on your lap. It was so fucking fast. She straight-up stole that shit from you, and you had no fucking clue.”
“I didn’t steal it! I was gonna give it back,” she amended uncomfortably. “It was just a joke.”
A joke.
A. Fucking. Joke.
  And just like that, I remembered why I didn’t laugh anymore.
“Was it funny? Stealing from the cripple? You get a good laugh out of that?” I snapped, spinning and rolling myself away. “You know, maybe my judgment of you wasn’t all that off to begin with. Like father, like daughter, I guess.” It was a low blow, but I felt completely betrayed by a woman I didn’t even know.
“Flint, wait. I wasn’t picking on the cripple!”
I fully realized that I had just used the term, but it enraged me that she’d had the audacity to repeat it back to me. Who the hell was this chick? I pushed a hand into my pocket, searching for my keys. Fuck the food. I’d leave her ass there. Hell, Quarry too if he didn’t get his ass to the car.
“Get in the car, Q!” I yelled, only to close my eyes and drop my chin to my chest when my hand never made contact on the keys. “Son of a bitch,” I said as I spun back around.
Quarry was laughing next to her, but Ash’s cheeks were bright red.
“Keys.” I snapped my fingers and opened my hand, palm up.
“Stop being a dick,” Quarry said, casually tossing an arm around Ash’s shoulders.
She didn’t budge as she held my glare.
“Keys,” I repeated, but she remained still.
“It was a joke.” Her chin began to quiver.
For fuck’s sake, I wasn’t in any kind of mood to deal with bullshit from some girl I didn’t even know and was quickly discovering I didn’t care to know, either.
Quarry’s eyes grew wide as she turned to him and buried her cries in his chest.
What the fuck, asshole! Q signed before rubbing his hands over her back.
Her shoulders shook as she let out a loud sob that shocked us both.
“Come on. Let’s sit down.” Q tried to guide her over to an empty table.
Ash refused to look up and tripped over one of the chairs.
“Shit,” Q said, catching her around the waist.
I was just about to roll my eyes when she glanced my way. He was still trying to get her back on her feet and over to a table when her tear-free, bright-blue eyes pointedly glanced in my direction. My head snapped back in surprise, but a smile grew on her face.
Ash was about to put on a show, and with that one look, she had invited me to have a front-row seat.
As she floundered all over Quarry, her hands slid between his pockets and her own. Every noise she made and each time she flailed covered up a jarring movement. She was keeping his mind too busy for it to process all the places she was touching him. Hell, I was only watching her and I could barely keep up. 
There was no denying that it was entertaining, but I wasn’t willing to show her that. However, as she accidentally lifted her knee, catching Q in the balls, a laugh erupted from my throat. He cupped his crotch while she apologized profusely and pushed him toward the same chair he’d been dragging her to only seconds before. Just before he sat, Ash swung her arm out, unwinding Q’s belt from around his body before tossing it at me.
“Oh God. I’m so sorry!” she said as Quarry held a finger up to ask for a second to recover. She didn’t wait at all though. Instead, she walked over in my direction; her prideful smile grew with every step.
She pulled my keys out of her pocket and dropped them into my lap. They were quickly followed by Quarry’s phone, wallet, and house keys. Then she snagged his belt off the floor and tossed it over her shoulder.
“It had absolutely nothing to do with you being in a wheelchair. It was a joke and it wasn’t supposed to piss you off.”
“Hey!” Quarry yelled. “That was messed up. You did not have to knee me in the balls to prove a point to him.”
“Oh, that wasn’t to prove a point. That was for bullshitting me. You knew good and damn well that he wouldn’t find it funny,” she said without ever tearing her gaze from mine. “Look, I’m sorry. I don’t have a lot of friends. And I’ve mentally noted that pickpocketing might not be the best way to make new ones.” She shrugged. “Consider it a lesson learned.”
“Three burgers all the way, onion rings, and a shake?” the guy at the counter called out.
Ash arched an eyebrow. “You want it to go, or are we good?”
I didn’t have to drop my attitude. Sure, she’d apologized, but while I might have had a short fuse, I also had a hell of a long burn. However, as she stood in front of me with her arms crossed over her chest and her blue eyes pleading for forgiveness, it magically fell away.
I swallowed hard. “No. We’re good.”
“You sure?” She leaned in, eyeing me warily, but her smile began to grow.
I swear to God it pulled at my lips as well. I fought it. But the harder I tried to keep it restrained, the bigger Ash’s grew. She was stealing my smile. The chick was good! Finally, with an eye roll, I let out a quiet chuckle, which seemed to appease her.
“Good. Now, help your brother get redressed and I’ll make the fancy sauce.” She waggled her eyebrows.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

- The Bibliophile Babe

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  1. Ash sounds like a bit of a tricky character, but I wouldn't mind meeting Flint!!!! I'll have to check out the first two books in this series:)

  2. i would like Flint but not Ash. I think this one is little too dramatic for me, and I would be bothered by the same issues you had. Thanks for the helpful review.

  3. Awesome review! This sounds heartbreaking and intense, and I LIKE IT! I'm adding this series to my list (in spite of Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention and for sharing the wonderful giveaway <3

  4. It's hard to really enjoy a story when you never quite like the heroine. Just from what I'm reading she seems like 2nd choice, although being in love with your brother's wife is all kinds of messed up. I feel bad for Flint! I have to say I'm intrigued. Wonderful review! :) Sorry it didn't measure up to the first book.