Release Day Review: Below the Belt: Jeanette Murray

Below The Belt (First to Fight #1)
Jeanette Murray 
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Expected April 7, 2015

There's more than one way to win in the debut of the First to Fight series…

Athletic trainer Marianne Cook is ready to do whatever it takes to turn the men of the Marine Corps boxing team into fighting machines. After all, her ultimate goal is to land a job training professional athletes. But when she notices a certain hard-bodied marine trying to hide an injury, Marianne realizes that she’ll have to use covert tactics to get him talking.

First Lieutenant Brad Costa has waited years for the chance to fight for a spot on the Marine Corps boxing team, knowing he has to push twice as hard to get half as far as his younger counterparts. Brad tries to downplay his injuries to the attractive trainer who has his dreams in her hands, but Marianne isn’t buying it. Maybe it’s time to deploy some targeted flattery.

As Brad and Marianne’s attraction turns red-hot, there’s more than one person having a hard time keeping their eyes on the prize…

Brad Costa is finally about to fulfill one of his dreams as he has just arrived at Marine Corps Boxing Camp. But the competition to make the team is fierce and as one of oldest, he has to be untouchable. And he is not there to make friends.

Trainer Marianne Cook is at home with sweaty men in a training room and does not expect to be intrigued by any of them. She has her own goals and this is a stepping stone in her career. 

Neither of them had a relationship on their radar. Brad is trying not to let the observant trainer in on the fact that he is nursing a new knee injury. But trying to distract her only makes them realize they actually like each other. They should not let anything happen due to their working relationship, but they cannot seem to resist the temptation.

He'd never felt this pull before with a woman. Never realized that there would be a single person on the planet that would call to him without saying a word.

"The ka-boom factor...You're the gas, she's the flame. You get anywhere near each other and...Ka-boom."

And getting involved could definitely cause some issues--he's trying to keep a secret and the sneaking around in an undisclosed relationship could affect both of their places in the camp. Neither want to jeopardize  their spots or each other, so it is all a tangled up mess.
I really began to like Brad as we got to see under his tough, guarded outer shell. Underneath it all he was passionate, caring, and had a good heart. She made him take things less seriously. She was smart, funny, and nurturing. Together they had an easy going, flirty rapport and hot chemistry. They were really good together both outside and inside the bedroom. I liked that they were more mature and actually had real conversations. But his hiding and lying to her takes a toll on him. And she knows he is hiding something but is afraid to push him to far.

He'd started the journey toward the team risking only his chance to box. Now he was risking his heart too.

I liked the building camaraderie of the team especially Higgs and Sweeney. As the older guys, they inadvertently became role models and leaders for the wilder younger ones. The team antics and dynamics had me laughing at times.  Her friend Kara was a fun and sassy sidekick, And the new PR girl Reagan was both tenacious and timid at the same time. Some of the story lines are still ongoing and I am looking forward to Higgs's story in Against the Ropes.

This was a sweet, funny, and not too angsty. There was a bit of a mystery/suspense story under the surface as well. It was an engaging read with likable characters and enough issues to make it interesting. It showed that sometimes team, friendships, and even love required dedication and sometimes sacrifices. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Against the Ropes (First to Fight #2)
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Expected Ocotber 6, 2015

The author of Below the Belt continues her First to Fight series with a novel of one Marine’s battle to come out on top—in life and love…

As a troubled teen, Gregory Higgs channeled his energy into boxing instead of breaking the law. The ring gave him purpose and something to strive for. So did the Marines. Combining the two seemed like a natural fit.

Another natural fit? Reagan Robilard, the sweet athlete liaison who keeps all the fighters out of trouble and manages their PR—a job that gets more challenging when someone digs up the truth about Greg’s not-so-shiny past after equipment is vandalized at the gym.

Even if it wasn’t her job, Reagan can’t let Greg take the fall. Because passion doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to matters of the heart…
Jeanette Murray Website/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

Jeanette spends her days surrounded by hunky alpha men…at least in her imagination. In real life, she’s a wife and a mother, keeping tabs on her husband of seven years, her four year old daughter (often called Tot) and the family dog, a lovable (but completely stupid) Goldendoodle named Clyde. Hang around long enough and you’re guaranteed to hear at least one or two stories about these three. She and her family currently live just outside of St. Louis.

.What’s with the two names? Great question. Jeanette writes for a few different publishers. And due to the timing of some releases, two names just seemed like the right option. But Jeanette can assure you, no matter which pen name you’re reading, you’re going to get sexy contemporary love..

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