Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Out now
A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…
Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.
He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .
But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.
I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.
If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?
Lou: Has and I had seen some buzz about REAL on twitter, and we were looking forward to release day. The premise of this book sounded amazing and I know Has is a big fan of MMA romance books. REAL features a hero who is a MMA fighter and the heroine who’s his sports therapist. The blurb sounds great but the romance itself, the characters, and the theme of mental illness, is a book that’s turned us into ranting raving monsters. Another aspect that brought me out of the story was the narration voice. I think it was first POV present tense and it made things awkward to read. What I really disliked about the book was how bipolar was portrayed and the message that medication and treatment is worse than the illness itself. No. No. NO.
Has: I really wanted to love this book and I kept checking Amazon to see when it would be posted up after hearing so much love about it. Like Lou said, it had all the hallmarks of a romance and premise that I would adore. BUT OMG! It was such a let down, and it was very problematic in the way it deals with issues like mental illness and drug addiction. I was also annoyed by the heroine’s narration–and I’ve read quite a few YAs and NAs, and for a 24 year old she was pretty immature and irksome. SHE WAS OBSESSED with the hero’s body and she described in great lengths at how awesome and how hot he was because he was a fine ripped specimen of a male. Now I love some mental and physical lusting but when you read repetitions of her lady parts ‘clenching’ and ‘clenches’ untold times it gets tiring. Even her ovaries, get ‘cramped and twisted’, is in on the act as well her hoo-haa being constantly wet. I think she needs to invest in industrial strength panty-liners because her hormones are all abuzz being near Remy. It was painful to read. And this was not a good way to build-up tension. It felt like the author was fetishsizing the whole premise of an MMA fighter and there was no realism and with the added factor that he suffers from being bipolar to make it more angsty.
Lou: I like romances where the tension builds up and up so I don’t mind waiting for the smexy times to come at a later stage in the book. What I don’t like is tension strung along so long that by the time smexy times have arrived, a year has freaking past. With all this clenching and lusting after one another, it takes Remy and Brooke forever to get it on. I’m surprised the heroine wasn’t dehydrated after constantly ‘wetting’ herself over Remy. Even when Remy is beating the shit out of an opponent, she’s gets incredibly turned on and she’s his therapist. And that was another problematic theme in that she didn’t seem to care about professionalism. Remy is a MMA fighter but he must have been part cyborg because he never ever stopped training. It was like he was the bestest of the best and he could train for hours and hours and keep on going. And that was part of the fetishing of being a MMA fighter. Unless someone is a cyborg, a normal body would have crashed a LONG time before Remmy did. But what made me angry was how his mental illness was portrayed. During an episode, his eye colour would change. Is that a new symptom? Also, during one of his high manic episodes, iRemy would completely lose it and not remember a thing that went on. The solution? Shoot him up in the neck with a drug that was never named.
Has: And those are the main cruxes of the issues I have with the book. I found Remy’s character to be this invincible robot. He has feelings but the only time he comes alive is through Brooke, and that’s with this semi-sweet alphahole who goes all caveman and uber protective. Which only just emphasized that sex and lust was pushing the emotions and not so much what made him tick, especially since it was in the lustful pantywetting clenching POV prose of Brooke who is narrating the story. It is explained that Remy finds it hard to express himself and he does it through listening to music, but I found this aspect of the storytelling dry. It didn’t give me a sense of what he was like as a character or an insight into his bipolar disorder.
And I definitely agree about the lack of professionalism about Brooke who is SUPPOSED to be employed as part of his team. And the fact he was drugged up when he had a ‘black period’ and yet just to keep an eye on him when he is ‘speedy’ and hyper. I felt this was glossing over serious issues and the subtext of the message was so wrong, especially with Remy’s parents who couldn’t handle his mental illness and basically disowned him and incarcerated Remy in a mental institution. I also didn’t like the fact in one scene when Brooke asks Remy about a good memory about his parents, and he replied about his mother crossing him religiously. I just wanted to scream in frustration because I totally understand there is prejudice and ignorance, especially about mental illness and disability. But I loathed the fact this element of his background was just brushed aside and cliched-ridden and I found it insulting because there was no real thought or explanation in this but lets blame it on ignorant religious parents. But how Remy handles it – because medication or therapy is bad too because his experiences was awful due to the trauma he experiences at the mental institution.
Lou: Exercise is a big help for people who suffer with mental illness so I can understand how Remy’s training would help him. But when Remy was obviously a danger to the people surrounding him, his trainers enabled and made his behaviour worse. There is NO shame in getting treatment for mental health, and if the message of this book included therapy, I wouldn’t be so angry. I didn’t see any self-treatment that would help, such as cognitive behaviour therapy. The treatment was shooting up Remy when he had episodes he couldn’t control. What the ever-loving fuck? It’s insulting to create a character such as this and make it all about the sexy lusting of the big hulking MMA fighter, and basically use bipolar to form his character, and do it in a way that wasn’t responsible. And don’t get me started on the side story of Brooke’s sister who became a forced groupie of the enemy of Remy, a boxer who drugged his girls up to the eyeballs. How did Brooke’s sister get involved with the other bad MMA fighter? It’s not explained. The sister magically becomes part of the MMA circuit without any introduction and the side story of her drug use and Brooke rescuing her was very weak. The romance wasn’t so much a romance but a story about two individuals lusting after one another until they finally have sex.
Another lesson learnt is to never ever listen to books that have been hyped up. There will only be the biggest let down. I give REAL an F.
Has: I totally agree! REAL was unrealistic and it was more about the lusting, clenching and the copious amount of bodily fluids with a bad take on mental illness and other serious issues. There was no realism or even grittiness. It was all glossed over and fantasized and for me, this is why the book failed so spectacularly because it did feature issues like drug addiction and mental illness but it didn’t do it justice.
I also give REAL an F. If it was just the clenching and the lusting it wouldn’t have been so bad but dealing with mental illness, it has to be realistic and I find it was treated so unrealistically and for me that is a huge hot button.