Review – Knock Out by Michele Mannon

Knock OutPublisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

Logan Rettino never imagined she’d fall so far. Dropped by her ex on national TV, she’s gone from prima ballerina to ring card girl, reduced to revving up the crowds before MMA bouts. However distasteful she finds her new job, it pays well…and she needs the money if she’s ever going to rebuild her life. Promised a huge bonus if she can convince a brooding, gifted welterweight to keep fighting, she’ll do whatever it takes to earn his trust.

Keane O’Shea is unbeatable in the octagon. A former marine, he fights with a ruthlessness no gym jockey can match. He knows his brutal strength is too much for the delicate ex-ballerina, regardless of how fascinating he finds Logan’s tight dancer’s body. But one private performance and he’s drawn to her in a way he can’t—or won’t—resist.

As Logan discovers the heartbreaking truth that lies beneath this handsome warrior’s rage, she’ll need to forfeit everything she thought mattered for the one thing that matters the most: saving Keane from himself.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I was so excited to read a book about a ballerina and an MMA fighter, because they seem like such an unlikely pair. I have to admit, the romance between these two was so different than I expected, but also so wonderful.

Logan had the most amazing life. It wasn’t until she went on reality TV with her fiance, and he dropped her that everything came crashing down around her. Her crushed her ankle, career, reputation, and heart. She needs quick cash, and her job as a ring girl pays more than anything else she could find. It wasn’t until she finds herself in the arms of Keane that her world gets turned upside down once again.

Keane is struggling with all the horrors of coming back stateside, as well as the death of one of his best friends. MMA fighting is his way of releasing stress and tension. Logan is a complication that Keane doesn’t need, but he can’t seem to stay away from her. Her job is dependant on his fighting, and Logan will do just about anything to make sure he fights. But Keane isn’t ready to let go of his hurt and anger, and because Logan is making him feel again, Keane isn’t ready to accept what is right before him.

I’ve read a few MMA books in the past, but I have to say that this was probably the most violent of all the books I’ve read when it comes to the fighting scenes. There were a few moments when I was a little turned off from the story, because fighting is something that holds ZERO interest for me. While Keane wasn’t violent outside of the ring, or toward anyone who wasn’t an opponent, there were still a few uncomfortable moments for me.

I loved the way Logan refused to let Keane continue to be miserable. After she realized the extent of the issues he had after coming home, she was determined to help him get the help he needed. There was one scene in particular, when Keane wakes up from a dead sleep and rolls Logan off the bed and pins her to the floor that really stood out for me. There was so much depth to Keane’s pain, and Logan’s acceptance that she really needed professional help for him. It was tender and heartbreaking all at the same time.

The romance between Keane and Logan had a kind of one step forward, one step back feel. Every time it seemed like Logan was making headway past all of Keane’s shields, something else would set them back a few steps. Romances like this typically drive me batty, however I found a lot of honesty between these two. It wasn’t as if they were pushing each other away for silly reasons, or communication issues. Instead, there were some real big issues that both Keane and Logan had to accept before they could finally be together. I liked that Mannon showed that, and made both us as readers, and the characters, wait for their HEA.

One aspect that I really struggled with was Logan’s ex-boyfriend and the entire situation surrounding him. While I get that the contention between him and Logan was one of her driving factors, it still felt a little ridiculous. However, the majority of the other secondary characters were all super enjoyable. Logan’s fellow ring girl, Keane’s military buddy, and the cranky old coach, Sal, were all so well done and such fun to read. I hope that Mannon takes the time to give them all stories of their own. 🙂

All in all I really enjoyed this debut book from Mannon. Despite a few brutal fight scenes, and some heavy issues, it was a fabulous read. Both the characters were compassionate and loveably flawed. The romance was rough at times, but also so honest in its complications. I’m absolutely looking forward to more from Mannon in the future.
I give Knock Out a B+

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