She could lead him by the collar to her never-slept-on mattress
and christen the hell out of it.
Making Him Sweat (by Meg Maguire)
Conflict: So wrong, it's right!
The beloved boxing gym-owner/trainer passed away, and now the business-savy daughter, Jenna Wilinski, wants to turn the gym into Spark - a match-making/dating-service business. Mercer Rowley, the boxer/trainer/manager, doesn't want to see the gym close, but he's being respectful of Jenna's wishes - and it doesn't hurt that he's really tempted to show her some of his grappling MMA moves (preferably naked). Jenna's also a smidge bitter that her estranged father loved Mercer so much, but she can't resist being turned-on by Mercer's charm (and smile, and pheromones, and laugh, and hot rock-hard MMA body). But he's not the "commitment type", right? And she's taking his job away soon, right? They're trying to figure out a way to keep both the gym and Spark open, however, the more they open their hearts (and their bedroom doors) - the guiltier she feels about their relationship… Too bad he makes her panties disintegrate. (After all, it is a Harlequin Blaze.) I was fortunate to receive a free ARC of Making Him Sweat from Harlequin via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. And I'm so glad, because Meg Maguire has a new fan in me.
I enjoyed this one so much, I can imagine it being a re-read that I would reach for on a rainy day - or for boxing motivation. Mercer helps Jenna with reconciling her feelings towards her dad (and a scandal that hurt the gym's reputation). This part was the most pleasant surprise for me, and I really wasn't expecting it to be so sentimental and heartwarming. I even got a bit choked up on the Metro commute home (but my mascara was not waterproof, so I quickly pulled it together).
Things I loved:
- Every character in this book was "just right". No one annoyed me and there were only about three or four supporting characters.
- This awesome quote:
- And this even more awesome follow-up analogy that Maguire gives us:
- Maguire got the MMA/boxing culture right – nutrition and exercise do become an obsession. If you are a fan of boxing and MMA, I can't recommend this romance enough.
- Mercer’s line about disintegrating panties. Disintegrating panties.
Bonus/Off-topic: Meg Maguire was a penguin handler. No, really. (See HQ Blaze’s awesome About the Author section in the front.)
Why do I empathize with this Heroine: I felt sad for her lack-of-relationship with her father (and basically how so many other people were closer to him, especially when he was dying, and she didn't even know he was ill). Also, she is by no-means entitled; She saved all her money and worked her butt off, on a cruise ship (and, yes, of course I'm only thinking of the shitty Carnival disaster(s)). Mostly, I appreciate that she has the balls to go after what she wants. No whiny bitching. No hanging on to past baggage. No pointless arguing. No "well, if you quit/changed/altered your job/plans/arrangements we could be happy". FINALLY - a romance where the heroine doesn't give up her dreams/goals (just so the hero can have his). So after all the drama in this book - guess what happens! They work it out. Like mature adults. And everyone involved finds a clever solution to reach the HEA. Brilliant.
Overall: This book is right up there on my list of "insta-recommendations" - perfect for any reader looking for a hot contemporary romance with a heartwarming feel-good ending. (And I'm definitely getting the second book in the series. Rich's story!)