Blog Tour and Giveaway: Fighting Shadows: Aly Martinez

fighting shadows cover.pngFighting Shadows (On the Ropes #2)
Aly Martinez
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Expected July 7, 2014

I come from a family of fighters. I always thought I’d follow in their shadows, becoming unstoppable in the ring. That changed the day I saved the life of a woman I loved, but could never have.

My brother hailed me as a hero, and my reward was a wheelchair.

Paralyzed, my life became an inescapable nightmare.

Until I met her.

Ash Mabie had a heart-stopping smile and a laugh that numbed the rage and resentment brewing inside of me. She showed me that even the darkest night still had stars, and it didn’t matter one bit that you had to lie in the weeds to see them.

I was a jaded asshole who fell for a girl with a knack for running away. I couldn’t even walk but I would have spent a lifetime chasing her.

Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.

Fighting the shadows of our past.

Fighting to reclaim my future.

Fighting for her.

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This takes place after the events in Fighting Silence.

Flint Page took a bullet for the woman he loves...who happens to be one woman he can never have. Now he is struggling with life in a wheelchair. His whole life has been disappointments, trauma and challenges. He is now angry, jealous, suffocating, bitter, broody, stubborn and wants to be independent.

Ash Mabie bursts into his life just when he needs it. She is like a wild storm determined to bring Flint back to life and lead him out of his isolation and darkness. I loved her crazy, over the top sense of humor, unfiltered mouth, and flighty ideas. She challenged and pushed Flint but also awakens a part of him that likes to push back too. She helps numb his pain and brings back some of his confidence. She helps him experience fun and feelings again. 

But things are never easy for the Page boys. Mistakes are made. Things are said. And Flint may have pushed too far. 
Ash never had security, safety, of felt truly loved. She lives in fear of losing happiness once she finds it. But her fears and tendency to run also make it a self fulfilling prophecy.

They are both so scared of not being good enough that it adds pressure and makes them fragile and volatile. But I loved their quirky humor, intensity, passion and the way they saw the good in each other. But it was not easy getting the other to believe the positives about them self.

This is a journey of heartbreak and disappointments spanning time and distance. Flint has been through so much trauma and tragedy. He pulls so far into himself that he is hard to like or reach. His reactions often hurt others or push them away. 
His ideas of love are skewed and it costs him. His life has the tendency to change in an instant and not all changes are good.  But he also has a strong, stubborn intrusive family behind him both pushing and encouraging him. Although he often struggles to feel like a complete man versus a damaged one. So this is a story of how an angry nineteen year old figures out to fight for his life and what he wants, and eventually where that road takes him.

Old Friends and family make appearances in this one: Till and Eliza, Slate and Erica, Leo and Sarah, Liv, Caleb and Emma and of course younger Page brother, Quarry. It made me so happy to see them all. They provided help and support, but also some drama and strife.  I also enjoyed Ash's friends Max and Donna, as well as the sassy, vivacious Mia.

I love this author and this series. She never fails to grab me and pull me into her dramatic, emotional, and unique stories. She makes me love her complex, damaged characters even though I want to smack sense into them at  times. But she keeps me completely engaged and flipping pages to see how it will all turn out. 

This was heartbreaking, emotional, romantic, humorous, and inspiring. It was told in dual points of view allowing us to feel all that the characters felt. Even though Flint tried my patience at the beginning, I could understand his issues and I came to really like him again. And Ash was just a breath of fresh air. The prologue had me saying "Holy Crap!" before it even got started and I loved how the story line developed.
These brothers have had nothing but adversity, but find ways to fight in the hopes that their reward is worth the painful journey. We got to see Quarry's story develop in this one. I adore the younger Page brother and am already so invested in his story Fighting Solitude.  I can't wait!

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Aly Martinez writes these books in such a way that even when the characters are making mistakes and acting like HUGE jerks, you can’t help but love them, want to smack them upside the head, and root for them to find a solution to their problems.

The Flint that started narrating this story was so completely different from the Flint that he had been as a boy. Fighting Shadows picks up as Flint is shot. The bullet he takes to save his sister-in-law, Eliza, leaves him paralyzed and an angry, bitter version of himself.

Ash is such a character. While her background may not be traditional and she has a habit of pickpocketing friends as a joke, she is quick to find humor, quick to trust, and quick to laugh.

These two had a rough road. With Flint’s injury and recovery, and Ash’s parentage, they face a deck stacked against them. And the incident that proves to be too much for their early relationship is heartbreaking in it’s impact. Reading the foreshadowing from the prologue both increased the heartache and helped me know what to look forward to. I loved that though the prologue foreshadowed, it wasn’t foreshadowing the ending. No, there was still plenty of story left after the timeline tracked back to that point, and in some ways finding Ash was only a small part of Flint’s challenge. Because once he found her, he still had to convince her that he was an idiot for the things he said, and he loved her forever.

But their banter was so much fun. From their early days when all she wanted was to make him smile, to the playful nature they found later. These two just got each other and had fun doing it.

I loved the new side characters introduced. The whole On the Ropes team, from Slate and his wife, to the security team, and the Page brothers have become a family. Donna and Max added humor and reassurance to Ash’s early days, and I love what happened to them after Ash left.

The Page brothers are all growly, direct, and very physical men. Watching Quarry grow up, and the little bit we see bridging to Fighting Solitude was an emotional blow. Each time I think the current story is heartbreaking, the teaser for the next book makes me think Aly is about to outdo herself once again.
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
“Hey, Flint? What time is it?” Quarry asked.

Ash’s smile actually slipped completely. For the briefest of seconds, she appeared almost ashamed.

I dragged my eyes away from her in order to answer his question, but as I looked at my wrist, I had no answer at all.

“Here,” she said as she pulled my watch from her pocket.

What. The. Fuck?

Quarry howled with laughter, and Ash chewed on her bottom lip.

“Explain,” I demanded, wrapping my watch back around my wrist and shoving my wallet in the front pocket of my hoodie.

Quarry filled in the blank. “She’s a pickpocket, dude. You should have seen her when she fell on your lap. It was so fucking fast. She straight-up stole that shit from you, and you had no fucking clue.”

“I didn’t steal it! I was gonna give it back,” she amended uncomfortably. “It was just a joke.”

A joke.

A. Fucking. Joke.

And just like that, I remembered why I didn’t laugh anymore.

“Was it funny? Stealing from the cripple? You get a good laugh out of that?” I snapped, spinning and rolling myself away. “You know, maybe my judgment of you wasn’t all that off to begin with. Like father, like daughter, I guess.” It was a low blow, but I felt completely betrayed by a woman I didn’t even know.

“Flint, wait. I wasn’t picking on the cripple!”

I fully realized that I had just used the term, but it enraged me that she’d had the audacity to repeat it back to me. Who the hell was this chick? I pushed a hand into my pocket, searching for my keys. Fuck the food. I’d leave her ass there. Hell, Quarry too if he didn’t get his ass to the car.

“Get in the car, Q!” I yelled, only to close my eyes and drop my chin to my chest when my hand never made contact on the keys. “Son of a bitch,” I said as I spun back around.

Quarry was laughing next to her, but Ash’s cheeks were bright red.

“Keys.” I snapped my fingers and opened my hand, palm up.

“Stop being a dick,” Quarry said, casually tossing an arm around Ash’s shoulders.

She didn’t budge as she held my glare.

“Keys,” I repeated, but she remained still.

“It was a joke.” Her chin began to quiver.

For fuck’s sake, I wasn’t in any kind of mood to deal with bullshit from some girl I didn’t even know and was quickly discovering I didn’t care to know, either.

Quarry’s eyes grew wide as she turned to him and buried her cries in his chest.

What the fuck, asshole! Q signed before rubbing his hands over her back.

Her shoulders shook as she let out a loud sob that shocked us both.

“Come on. Let’s sit down.” Q tried to guide her over to an empty table.

Ash refused to look up and tripped over one of the chairs.

“Shit,” Q said, catching her around the waist.

I was just about to roll my eyes when she glanced my way. He was still trying to get her back on her feet and over to a table when her tear-free, bright-blue eyes pointedly glanced in my direction. My head snapped back in surprise, but a smile grew on her face.

Ash was about to put on a show, and with that one look, she had invited me to have a front-row seat.

As she floundered all over Quarry, her hands slid between his pockets and her own. Every noise she made and each time she flailed covered up a jarring movement. She was keeping his mind too busy for it to process all the places she was touching him. Hell, I was only watching her and I could barely keep up.

There was no denying that it was entertaining, but I wasn’t willing to show her that. However, as she accidentally lifted her knee, catching Q in the balls, a laugh erupted from my throat. He cupped his crotch while she apologized profusely and pushed him toward the same chair he’d been dragging her to only seconds before. Just before he sat, Ash swung her arm out, unwinding Q’s belt from around his body before tossing it at me.

“Oh God. I’m so sorry!” she said as Quarry held a finger up to ask for a second to recover. She didn’t wait at all though. Instead, she walked over in my direction; her prideful smile grew with every step.

She pulled my keys out of her pocket and dropped them into my lap. They were quickly followed by Quarry’s phone, wallet, and house keys. Then she snagged his belt off the floor and tossed it over her shoulder.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with you being in a wheelchair. It was a joke and it wasn’t supposed to piss you off.”

“Hey!” Quarry yelled. “That was messed up. You did not have to knee me in the balls to prove a point to him.”

“Oh, that wasn’t to prove a point. That was for bullshitting me. You knew good and damn well that he wouldn’t find it funny,” she said without ever tearing her gaze from mine. “Look, I’m sorry. I don’t have a lot of friends. And I’ve mentally noted that pickpocketing might not be the best way to make new ones.” She shrugged. “Consider it a lesson learned.”

“Three burgers all the way, onion rings, and a shake?” the guy at the counter called out.

Ash arched an eyebrow. “You want it to go, or are we good?”

I didn’t have to drop my attitude. Sure, she’d apologized, but while I might have had a short fuse, I also had a hell of a long burn. However, as she stood in front of me with her arms crossed over her chest and her blue eyes pleading for forgiveness, it magically fell away.

I swallowed hard. “No. We’re good.”

“You sure?” She leaned in, eyeing me warily, but her smile began to grow.

I swear to God it pulled at my lips as well. I fought it. But the harder I tried to keep it restrained, the bigger Ash’s grew. She was stealing my smile. The chick was good! Finally, with an eye roll, I let out a quiet chuckle, which seemed to appease her.

“Good. Now, help your brother get redressed and I’ll make the fancy sauce.” She waggled her eyebrows.
Fighting Silence (On the Ropes #1)
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Sound is an abstract concept for most people. We spend our lives blocking out the static in order to focus on what we believe is important. But what if, when the clarity fades into silence, it's the obscure background noise that you would give anything to hold on to?

I've always been a fighter. With parents who barely managed to stay out of jail and two little brothers who narrowly avoided foster care, I became skilled at dodging the punches life threw at me. Growing up, I didn’t have anything I could call my own, but from the moment I met Eliza Reynolds, she was always mine. I became utterly addicted to her and the escape from reality we provided each other. Throughout the years, she had boyfriends and I had girlfriends, but there wasn't a single night that I didn’t hear her voice.

You see, meeting the love of my life at age thirteen was never part of my plan. However, neither was gradually going deaf at the age of twenty-one.

They both happened anyway.

Now, I'm on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting for my career.
Fighting the impending silence.
Fighting for her.

Every night, just before falling asleep, she sighs as a final conscious breath leaves her.

I think that's the sound I'll miss the most.

Fighting Solitude  (On the Ropes #3)
Expected October 2015

Wrecked and Ruined Series
The On the Ropes series is a spin off from the Wrecked and Ruined Series. Although this series can easily be read as a stand alones, the characters of Slate, Erica, Leo, and Sarah were featured in Among the Echoes and Broken Course so reading them will provide more back ground info on the side characters in Fighting Silence.
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Aly Martinez Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five- including a set of twins. Currently living in Chicago, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.


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