Love Unexpected #1
Release Date: February 3, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an ARC (via Xpresso Book Tours) in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 3 Bookworms
An Irish Mixed Martial Artist who is fighting for the UFC Championship in Las Vegas.
A beautiful hustler who is counting the clock down to her twenty-eighth birthday when she can finally retire and enjoy her life.
A chance encounter that changes both of their lives forever.
Love TKO is a story about two people who've done things, in order to survive, that they're not proud of. Two underdogs who took what life threw their way and endured. Two people, basically cut from the same cloth, who found love when they least expected it.
Chiara Bassi is counting down the days until she complete the contract she signed almost ten years ago - a contract that has enable her to take care of her sister and her sister's kids but through means she'd rather not have had to resort to. The night she meets Torin Duffy, things change. She finds herself breaking all her rules - the self-imposed ones as well as the contract-mandated ones.
Torin Duffy is an Irish immigrant who's made a name and life for himself as an MMA fighter. The abuse he suffered at home served to make him that much better in the octagon. He's an admitted man-whore and avoids commitment like the plague because he fears being like his father. Then he meets Chiara and his carefully cultivated persona and meticulously followed rules go out the window.
While I liked the overall story, I had a few issues. First, the insta- love...I don't have a problem with insta-love in general, but I didn't feel it between these two. I did enjoy seeing them get to know one another - Ms. Chardow did well developing their relationship. That initial lightning strike just didn't work for me. Second was Chiara's profession and her feelings about it - and Torin's feelings as well. I understood why she felt compelled to enter her profession and I felt for her being straddled with the responsibility she had so young. But while she made remarks or had thoughts about regretting her choice of career, I don't think she necessarily felt regret. She did seem bitter at times though. Also, I think that Torin, with all his macho, wouldn't so easily have overlooked what she'd done for a living. Yes, he didn't have room to judge, but that doesn't usually keep men from doing just that. There were some inconsistencies in the story and some grammar problems but since this was an ARC, these may have been resolved in final editing.
Despite my issues, I did like the story. I found myself rooting for this couple to hang onto the love they surreptitiously found together. They endured so much in their childhoods and young adult lives, they deserved to have love and happiness. I wanted them to be able to move on from their pasts and find the redemption they were each looking for. I appreciated the fact that Ms. Chardou had them go to counseling. We are never witness to it, but I can't help but feel they'd each benefit from it.
Love TKO had a few bumps just as Chiara and Torin's story did. It's a gritty and fast-paced tale. And I enjoyed it enough that I'll read the next in the series - Kieran, Torin's brother's story.