I haven't read a romance novel in awhile and every time I come back I wonder why do I bother reading anything else since I love these so much. BUT, this is one that I won off of Goodreads, so that's even better!
Guarded Heart - Lisa Andres
Jesse Dubicki learned to channel all of his pent up rage into his fists. Now, he's just hired one of the best coaches in the world to help him succeed in becoming a top MMA fighter. Carissa Hart is a woman that has seen more in her young life than many people will in their lifetime. She's finally on her own two feet and determined not to let anyone hurt her again. Jesse's been abandoned by everyone that he's ever loved. Carissa has been abused by everyone that she's ever loved. They are inexplicably drawn to each other. Neither of them wants to be hurt again. Will their relationship survive when a shocking secret from Jesse's past threatens to change their life forever? ****** Author's Note: While this book is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone novel. The book contains graphic sex scenes and is intended for mature readers.
Full disclosure, I have not read the first Dubicki's novel but it's really OK. I am such a fan of a series that doesn't require you to read things in order because it never fails, I find something once it's already started and I hate feeling like I have to catch up to enjoy my new find. But that's not the case here, and that's perfect. Also perfect is that the book comes in at 158 pages so you can easily knock this one out in an afternoon, or a weekend if you are a slower reader (or have multiple interruptions!).
The story follows Jesse, an MMA fighter with crap luck in relationships and Carissa, also with crap luck but a history of abuse and neglect that has held her back in life. These two get paired up and it's electric. Carissa acts a bit like a caged animal, she's eager, but absolutely terrified because she can only see the worst case scenario, and then we have Jesse who really likes Carissa but unfortunately for him, a secret from his past will threaten it all. The secret? Well even Jesse doesn't know it until 3/4 of the way in and I can't believe I didn't see it coming. I've read enough romance novels to know that this? This is a common secret but damn, didn't see it coming.
Of course, Carissa doesn't react well (but does any romance novel female character? No.) and it throws Jesse for a loop and he goes into a downward spiral. I get so angry when the female characters act stupid like this because it's frustrating. Though I suppose not everyone is a rational thinker like me, and maybe it wouldn't make for a compelling read if it was all, "Oh- that sucks but I'm 100% sympathetic and supportive and I fully understand why you withheld this information.", right? So I'll let that go as a complaint. The funny part is that some people say they had a hard time visualizing these characters and I did not. You know who I kept picturing? Ronnie and Sammi from Jersey Shore. No, I'm serious. I didn't even watch that many episodes but no joke, when I look at the cover that's what I see and I can't get the imagery out of my head. So there you go. I've helped you out.
Overall? I liked this book. It was fast, it was fun, I liked the romantic scenes in the book, and it was a good one to get me out of my rut!