**Originally posted @ ReadingDiva's BlogREVIEW:
Below The Belt is the first book I read by Sidney Halston and also the first book I read under an MMA series, I can assure you it will not be the last. I was given the chance by the publisher to read an ARC and I am very happy to have had the chance.
Below The Belt is a great story of love, trust and second chances. I will admit to have fallen in-love with Antonio (Tony), he is everything I like in a male character. He is sexy, funny, strong, understanding and sexual but he is also sensitive and knows when to step back. The story flows nicely and at a good pace, Tony is a champion MMA fighter, cocky, egocentric and full of himself. He is also smart, strong and dedicated, however over the past few years he has stir into partying, bar fights, women and everything a champion should avoid if he doesn’t want his career to end. It was extremely fun to get to know Tony, he is a Casanova, a ladies man, a 100% macho. He is a good representation of a Latino, full of himself, a good son to his mother and a great bother to his sisters. He is also a man whose temper can easily get the best of him.
Francesca is strong, independent and beautiful. However, her past has always hounded her present and it threatens to eliminate any future. I liked Francesca for many reasons, she is the epitome of an independent twenty something year old woman. She hides behind a veil of responsibility trying to find solace and an anchor in her work. She is loyal, hard worker, bossy, temperamental and sweet. There isn’t anything I don’t like about her, she is exactly the kind of female I wish most authors write about. She was exactly what I expected from a woman surrounded by testosterone and a woman who once was part of the MMA world.
Below The Belt is funny, passionate, hot and sexy. These two characters were meant for each other, their passion, banter, fights and flirts can put a lot of other couples to shame. I enjoyed their chemistry and dialog. I liked how their relationship developed slowly. The tension was always there, which for me was exactly what the story needed to balance out the bit of drama that Francesca had about her past. But it also lighten up the mood in the story, it made it fun and sexy.
I think Below The Belt is one of those stories I will always come back to because I felt I could relate with the characters, specially Tony. Knowing the culture well, I couldn’t help but love his rants, his struggles and his love for his family, even his jealous rants were enjoyable. The relationship described between Tony and his mother is heartwarming and funny, even hilarious at times. I really liked this book and I can’t wait to read the others in the series. Though Below the Belt is part of a series it can also be read as a stand alone. There are references to other characters but not detailed enough that would throw off the plot. Overall, I liked this books very much, it is funny, sexy & heartwarming. I think the author did a great job exploring Francesca and Tony’s feelings and backgrounds. Their difference made them unique and that’s exactly what brought them together. The sex between Francesca and Tony is explosive, I totally enjoyed how these two characters took their time to fall into it and how they managed to balance their attraction and their professional life even when the line was crossed a few times.
If like me you are new to these type of reads I recommend you start with Worth the Fight Series by Sidney Halston. She has done a great job introducing us to a great group of characters, that for the look of it are all strong and independent, sensitive and loving but above all, passionate and sexy.