Perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and Cecy Robson, Sidney Halston’s scorching new MMA romance proves there are no holds barred when it comes to seduction. Growing up an Army brat, Violet Channing could never meet her dad’s high expectations. But in the eyes of her best friend, she could do no wrong. He even insisted that he should be her first kiss. Now Cain Sorensen is all grown up, hardened by years in special ops and always looking for a good fight. Tall, with striking blue eyes and impossibly blond hair, he’s a modern-day Viking warrior. Of course, Violet’s all grown up, too, and she’s ready to surrender to his every command. Cain knows he’s bad for Violet. His work is dangerous, and his hobbies are downright deadly. As a private mercenary and a mixed martial arts fighter, he could never let such an innocent soul into his world. And yet his most grueling combat training is no match for Violet’s killer curves, hot touch, and suggestive glances. Now all of Cain’s most explosive fantasies are coming true—but once they cross the line between friends and lovers, there’s no turning back.
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She was kicking a rock out of the way when Cain grabbed her hand and pulled her to a nearby tree, causing her to yelp as she struggled to keep her balance. At nineteen, Cain was thin and lanky—all limbs. She was still short and stumpy. He turned her around brusquely and pressed her back against a tree, the bark digging into her. She looked up at him and saw an intensity in his eyes she’d never seen before. His cheeks were flushed and the vein by his neck pulsed. Suddenly she became nervous. He’d never looked at her this way—the way the cute guys looked at the pretty girls.
Lately she’d felt flustered when Jeremy was nearby, with his mess of curly dark brown hair and dimpled smile. Feelings that hadn’t been there before were now creeping in. In fact, she could’ve sworn Jeremy had been flirting with her lately—complimenting her clothes and hair, brushing against her “accidentally,” inviting her to the movies without Cain around. But these brief flirtatious moments were with Jeremy. Not with Cain. Never with Cain. Cain was just her friend. A little gangly, a little quiet, a lot overprotective.
That was until now.
Suddenly there was an awareness that had never been there before.
When he licked his lips, her pulse sped up. A foreign feeling—desire—began to take root.
He reached toward her hair, and she flinched a little before he tucked a stray strand behind her ear. The tender action surprised her. For the first time, she noticed how clear his blue eyes were, how his hair was so blond it almost looked white. All of a sudden, he didn’t seem like just this boy who was always around. Unfamiliar feelings began to erupt throughout her body. She felt her cheeks flame and her heart race.
When he finally spoke, his voice shook a little. “I’m your friend because I want to be your friend. Not because of your parents or your dumb threats. I don’t like it when you call yourself fat. You’re not fat.”
She nodded and murmured, “Okay.” She drew her lower lip into her mouth and nibbled as her wide eyes gazed at his. Cain reached over and pulled her lip out of her mouth. “You’re nervous.” It wasn’t a question. He knew her well enough to be aware of her tells.
“I . . . uh . . . what are you doing, Cain?”
“I don’t want you to kiss just anyone to get it outta the way.”
Words failed her, so she just nodded again. There was a moment where neither spoke. He just looked at her as if trying to decide on his next move.
“I should be the first person you kiss,” he finally said as his tongue flicked out a little and wet his lips.
She gasped and looked up into his eyes nervously. His eyes never left hers, but his reddened ears and neck showed that he was also nervous. She too knew him well.
Like a fool, she bobbed her head up and down mostly because the words were stuck in her throat. It felt like he stared at her lips for an eternity until he finally leaned forward, causing her to press herself further back against the tree, her hands gripping the bark. He tilted his head to the side and she imitated the action.
Should I open my mouth? Leave it closed? What about my tongue? What should it be doing?
Softly, almost feather light, his lips brushed against hers. Her eyes instinctively closed tight, and she stopped breathing. It was less than ten seconds but it was forever. In that moment she fell into the category of girls who’d had their first kiss. She kept her eyes closed for far too long, and when she opened them he was standing upright, his face even more flushed. Her own tongue snuck out of her mouth to taste her lips. She swallowed and looked at him, her eyes as wide as saucers. What just happened?
Then, with the same intensity in his expression, he leaned back down, but this time he pressed harder against her lips causing her lips to part slightly. His body moved closer to hers, and then she felt his hands grip her waist and his tongue touch her lips before it moved into her mouth and brushed hers for a brief second, his fingers digging into her skin at her waist. She instinctively melded into him, her body seeking him out.
Again he moved away and looked at her. His expression never changed, and neither did hers. Her eyes were wide; she touched her lips, as if to determine whether the kiss had really happened. They just looked at each other, neither saying anything, her heart beating so loudly she was sure he could hear it. Finally she spoke and said the only thing that came to mind.
“Wow, my cup runneth over,” she whispered. It was a phrase he teased her about constantly, but it was exactly how she felt: she could barely contain her happiness.
He chuckled, and the smile did her in: she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. Hard. He wrapped his arms around her waist and walked them the half step back against the tree again. Their noses bumped. It was awkward, but as first kisses went . . . it was perfect.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Vi.” It was the last thing he said to her before leaving for war.
This was a sweet second chance romance; you spend all your time rooting for Violet and Cain to come together even when Cain is being your typical dumb guy.
I did want Violet to put Cain through his paces a bit more, but all that can be forgiven since both Cain and Violet pull you into the story and have you flipping the pages like crazy. If you read one romance this summer, definitely check this one out, plus the hottie on the cover really does help persuade you.
Rating 4 out of 5
Sidney Halston lives her life by one simple rule: “Just do it.” And that’s exactly what she did. At the age of thirty, having never written anything other than a legal brief, she picked up a pen for the first time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. That first stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing. Halston lives in South Florida with her husband and children.