Renata is a penniless boxer reeling from a bad breakup with her fiancé who was also her manager. Now she has one last chance at winning the women’s welterweight championship, but it means returning to New Orleans to train with billionaire Sebastian, a former heavyweight boxing champion who used to be her lover before he inexplicably chose his career over her. Can she trust him now? Meanwhile, Sebastian erred years ago when he let Renata out of his life, but now he is desperate for a second chance to win her heart. The two embark on a cautious professional partnership, but can only stave off temptation for a week before they have an extended sexual encounter in the sauna.
But Renata still doesn’t know the secret that lies at the heart of why Sebastian abandoned her years ago. And Sebastian must overcome the demons of his past with an abusive father and realize that he is worthy to court Renata. Neither knows if they have a romantic future past Renata’s upcoming championship match in Vegas unless one of them finds the courage to say the magical three little words.
I found Knock Out to be smoothly written and steamy. I enjoyed the interactions between the cautious Renata and the inarticulate-but-loyal Sebastian. Two things would have taken the story up to another level for me. One, more actual boxing scenes, especially Renata’s championship match, which is summarized in a sentence. Two, if Renata and Sebastian seemed less culturally generic and more like what they’re supposed to be – a product of the vibrant Puerto Rican/Sicilian culture in her case, and Cajun culture in his case. Maybe he could have called her “cher” (French for darling), and she could have lit a candle to her patron saint before a match as any good Catholic boxer would do. A little cultural flavor goes a long way with me. As it is, I only knew of their cultural background because of a sentence of exposition attached to her, and because of his French name and designation as a New Orleans native.
But these are little things. Overall, this short erotic romance delivers on its sexual promise with a satisfying undercurrent of emotional closeness achieved by the two romantic leads. It is a fine first book for what looks to be a series (The Billionaire's Club) involving Sebastian and his boyhood pals the Lost Boys, who are each martial arts champions with rocky pasts now looking for the right woman with whom to fall in love.
Type of Romance: Male-Female Romance
Title: Knock Out
Author: Mallery Malone
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana
Sex scenes: extended medium-explicit scene
Length: about 88 pages
Viewpoint: alternating third person (Renata, Sebastian) by scene/chapter
Note: A free review copy of this novel was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. I received no compensation for this review from author or publisher. Look on Amazon.com for your copy of Knock Out (The Billionaire's Club: New Orleans)