Holding Strong by Lori Foster
I really do like this series. This is only the second book in the series. 2.5, I guess, if you include the novella. I’m really excited to read the next two, but I think this one will end up being my least favorite of the series. Denver and Cherry just didn’t click for me, although it was going to be difficult for anyone to follow Cannon and Yvette in No Limits.
The physical connection between Denver and Cherry was apparent from the very beginning. Actually, it was apparent any time they showed up in No Limits, but even so, I thought they fell into bed pretty quickly here. They’re both at a bar with their group of mutual friends, and Denver is watching Cherry, simultaneously wanting her and being upset that she’s being such a flirt. This was one of the things that bugged me about Denver. I get that he’s an MMA fighter, and he’s alpha, but as far as I could tell, Cherry’s flirting consisted of little more than talking to the men at her table. Maybe laughing at their jokes. But it comes up a lot throughout the book when we’re in his POV. It’s a big problem for him. At one point, he even asks some of the other fighters if they would even date her because she’s such a flirt. I just wanted to shake some sense into him. She’s literally standing there talking to people. Most of them are his friends. The one time a stranger hits on her, he’s very quickly sent packing. This is the huge deterrent for Denver. He gets over it and walks her back to her hotel room, and that’s pretty much it. They fall into bed together, and they’re together from that point on.
For me, alpha does not mean the same thing as possessive and controlling. In one sentence, Denver is thinking his friend Armie treats Cherry exactly the same as he does any other woman he has zero interest in, and the next he’s yelling at Cherry for daring to get caught in a rainstorm around Armie and being in clothing that’s stuck to her body by the rain. Actually yelling at her in front of all of their friends. Cherry rightly called him out on his crap that time, after he told her he knew Armie wasn’t interested in her and wouldn’t try anything with her, and Cherry correctly said that since he trusted Armie so completely, it must be her he didn’t trust. For crying out loud. She was trying to look nice for Denver and got caught in the rain. The only reason Armie is even there is because he went to pick Cherry up and bring her to Denver when her car wasn’t running. Denver was a very confusing mix of loving and possessive that left me somewhat unsettled. The only way he would believe Cherry truly loved him and trusted him and was willing to share their lives was for her to allow him to completely control a situation from her past she was dealing with. Not to accept his help, not to ask him or take his advice, but to allow him to completely take it over. He hides things about his own past and family situation from her, but insists that when she does the same, it means she doesn’t trust him or love him enough. It did not give me the warm fuzzies. I was glad to see Cherry occasionally call him out on his crap, but she didn’t do it often enough for me.
But in true Lori Foster fashion, the sex scenes were great, and I had no problem believing Denver and Cherry were well-suited there. I just struggled to see where else they were suited. Armie and Stack get better with each book, and I’m really looking forward to the next in these series. She’s hosting a convention in Ohio this weekend, and I’m going to do everything I can to get my hands on Stack’s book, which is next in the series.