Title – Fighting the Fall
Author – JB Salsbury
Series – Fighting #4
The toughest fighters aren’t created in the octagon but are born of necessity. When life delivers blow after punishing blow, you fight back or get destroyed.
Eve Dawson has had her fill of bad luck. A string of unhealthy relationships has left her angry, bitter, and frustrated. She’s given up on being happy and settles for content. Swearing off men, she repels advances and makes herself a challenge to even the most persistent suitors. After all, how much can the fragile human heart take? But life isn’t finished with her, and when things can’t possibly get worse . . . they do.
Stay on your feet.
It’s Cameron Kyle’s motto, but with his fighting career ripped from his grasp, a child he wasn’t strong enough to save, and a marriage that even the brawn of a heavyweight couldn’t hold together, it’s getting harder and harder to stay upright. He takes on the position of CEO of the UFL, intent on hiding his biggest weakness in order to forge a path that leads him back into the octagon.
When an old rival mysteriously gets wind of Cameron’s plan to fight again, he comes out of retirement to settle old debts, but secrets, lies, and betrayal threaten to deliver the death-blow. The distraction of a sass-mouthed girl seventeen years his junior is the last thing he needs until a tragic accident shatters the firm foundation of his resolve and he realizes just how far he’s fallen.
Will they risk it all and fight to be together?
Or does defeat lie within the fall?
JB Salsbury has once again written a wonderful story about what it really means to be a fighter. Fighting the Fall is another great addition to her Fighting series and it left me anxious for the next installment in this addicting series. We finally get to unravel the mystery of Eve and JB easily had me falling head over heels for Cameron. This story was the perfect blend of sass and feeling. The relationship between Eve and Cam was undeniably scorching and the emotional component of their story only served to crank up the heat.
“Sometimes the best defense is to step toward what scares you, not run away from it. You taught me that.”
Cameron was far more tragic than I would have ever guessed. His story was absolutely heartbreaking. From the first page to the last I could feel the weight of his pain as my own. JB has Cameron drowning in guilt and regret, unable to find the light. She built his world so full of emotion and pain that I swear I could feel myself surrounded by his darkness. Cameron is such a multidimensional character. We get to experience so many sides to him as we see him carryout his various roles in this story. JB Salsbury did such a beautiful job of opening Cameron up to us as Eve slowly chipped away at his tough exterior.
“For a split second, my legs wobble with the force of it, and for the first time since the last time I dropped, I worry this lightening will knock me off my feet.”
Eve has been on my mind since the very first book in this series. She is an absolute force with her sexy, take-no-prisoners attitude and unapologetic manner of living. She seems to be a magnet for the men who will leave her trampled and JB Salsbury finally lets us in on why that might be. Eve’s character is stripped down in this book until we can appreciate her true vulnerability and self-doubt. Together, Cameron and Eve both undergo significant transformations over the course of this story and I was impressed by the character growth JB has orchestrated for these two.
“Because I want more. I always want more. That’s my problem. I want to be the girl that a man can’t live without.”
My favorite thing about this series is that while each book focuses on a specific couple, every single novel belongs to the entire fighting family. Every relationship developed throughout this series plays a role in each new story, flawlessly demonstrating the interconnectedness and vital importance of the fighting family as a whole. I love that JB Salsbury has crafted these incredible bonds between a group of broken misfits. She has expertly built a place where all of her characters can know the meaning of unconditional love and where they never have to hide the worst parts of themselves. Fighting the Fall was no exception, pulling me right back into the fray and once again filling my heart with a sense of acceptance and belonging.
“For the first time in a lifetime of heavy, I feel… light.”
Fighting the Fall was overflowing with emotion, genuine in its heartache, and simply breathtaking. Eve and Cameron’s story is one that will stick with you as you ride the rollercoaster that is their story. JB Salsbury’s inimitable characters feel completely genuine and effortlessly wiggle themselves into your heart. My only issue was that I felt like this book should have come before Fighting to Forget. Despite these stories occurring simultaneously, there were some things in this book that I already knew the outcome of because it had been previously mentioned in Fighting to Forget. My prior knowledge dulled the emotions a little when I got to that point in the story. Overall, JB Salsbury has delivered another poignant story with Cameron and Eve’s journey and I’m already anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series.
My favorite thing about J.B. Salsbury’s writing is that she takes all these characters who have similar backgrounds, yet makes them all incredibly unique. Fighting the Fall is heartbreaking in its own right, but in a completely different manner than the previous books in the series. Cam and Eve’s journey was one of the more angst-filled, roller coaster emotional rides of the boys, but probably my new favorite.
“Sooner or later a man has to decide. You wanna be the man she wants, or can you find it in you to be the man she needs? Figure that shit out, or bow out, and let a better man move in.”
There was something that hit me so hard about Cameron’s character from the moment the Prologue started until the very final words in the book. The man had a complex mind with the simplest of motives – fiercely protect who and what is precious to him. He was such a strong character, and I don’t just mean physically. He internalized so many of his issues and while that can be an admirable quality, it seemed to be a double-edged sword – especially once he met the beautiful Eve. She has been through hell and back with her person life and is now struggling to find her way in the world. J.B. Salsbury stays true to what she has always done with her female protagonists and portrays Eve as independent, determined, and steadfast in her goals. We go on this ride of, mostly, emotional growth through which she recognizes that her life and choices have become a pattern and that it needs to be broken.
“No wonder she seems older than she is. She’s lived the kind of pain and abandonment that would lend to an edge in her demeanor: a street-taught maturity that only comes from pulling through the shitty dredges of life’s circumstances.”
I hear authors say that their characters speak to them and dictate their own stories, but I’ve never really understood it. However, after reading through Cam and Eve’s story, it now makes complete sense. These two felt like they needed their lives to be told, almost as if they were real. The reactions, emotions, and situations felt so realistically portrayed. I felt every ounce of fear, anxiety, sadness, and happiness pouring from them. J.B. inserts such heart and soul into her books and it really does breathe a feeling of life into them.
“Fighting I know. Drive and determination as well. But comforting another person is…I take a deep breath and she melts into me further. Huh, not good, but many not too bad either.”
The book is incredibly well written, with few grammatical or typographical errors. The storytelling is phenomenal and will bring you along an emotional endeavor. Cam will make your heart break, but somehow pick up all the pieces and put it back together. Eve will show you the strength of a woman and educate you on the true definition of a family. Together, they teach you that love and being with another can help ease the pain of horrible hardships. Fighting the Fall is absolutely my new favorite Fighting series book, even though I’m now on pins and needles waiting for Killian’s story!
Meeting with the whiners. Check. Weigh-ins. Check. I’m flipping through the pages and checking off things I’ve completed when I feel her eyes on me.
I don’t look up from my lists, but hear her feet on the carpet and finally the sound of creaking wood as she takes a seat across from me. “You got something to say?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“As long as you make it fast.” Her silence brings my eyes to her contemplative expression.
“I noticed you’re not married.” She tilts her head to my left hand that is very much without a wedding ring.
Not anymore. “And?”
“Nothing really. Just surprised.”
I lean back in my chair as irritation pinches my brows. “Surprised.”
She shrugs. “Yeah, I mean you seem like a decent guy.”
I’m not. “You seem like a decent woman and you aren’t married.” I nod to her empty left ring finger.
She grins. “That’s because I just got divorced. Marriage jumping isn’t my thing.”
This feels like one of those you-share-I-share conversations that I do not participate in. I find if I can bite back my impulsive outbursts and stay zipped people eventually give up.
She twirls a strand of her long blond hair. “Ever been married?”
I lock my jaw and wait, but she doesn’t fucking budge and stares with expectant eyes. Something tells me we’ll be here all day if I don’t give her something. I’d lie, tell her I’ve never been married, but if I plan on digging in here for the long haul, I’m going to have to give her enough to keep her satisfied.
Her eyes light up as if she just realized we belong to the same super-secret club. “Really.”
What is it about sharing that creates this weird expectation from people? As if simply telling another person about your past allows them some special access into friendship. I don’t do friendship.
I flip through my notebook and hope like hell this conversation is headed toward The End.
My hand freezes mid page-turn, and a whisper of pain echoes through my gut that would usually be followed by a cringe, but not anymore. I clear my throat and refocus on my notebook. “I have a son.”
“Oh, that’s cool.” She’s silent for a few beats that are probably uncomfortable for her but don’t bother me at all. “I have a daughter.”
The rumble of an old hurt reverberates against my shield. Ten years ago those words would’ve bled me alive, but not anymore. “Mm.”
“Look, I really have a lot to do.” I’m still studying the pages of my notebook like a complete asshole, but honest to God it’s as if we’re about to bust out some knitting needles and tiny sandwiches.
“Sure thing.” She hops up and moves toward the door when she turns suddenly. “Oh, I forgot. We’re having a party after the fight tonight. The Blackout. You should come.”
“Thanks, but”—I flip a page and another—“I think I’ll go home after the fight. Long day.”
“Suit yourself. If you change your mind, we’ll be there.” She’s gone with the soft click of my office door.
After party. Haven’t been to one of those in a while, at least not many I remember. The little flashes I’ve managed to retain carry good feelings of camaraderie with the team. I groan and lean back in my desk chair. My goal is to get back into the octagon, but until then I need to run this organization and put it back on its feet. The fighters got screwed by Gibbs and are having trust issues. I get that. Maybe showing up at this party is a smart move after all. Just for one drink. Should be painless enough.
With my head down, I make way to my car when I notice a familiar car parked next to mine. I look up and my steps freeze just feet away. Leaning against my car, arms crossed at his chest, long powerful legs crossed at his ankles, is Cameron.
My hand clutches my purse to my side. “Hey, what are you doing here?” I internally scold myself for sounding more defensive than happy to see him. He can’t possibly know what’s in my purse.
It’s been days since I’ve seen him, and our quick telephone conversations do little to slake my desire to see him in the flesh.
He shrugs. “Passing by, saw the place was closed for the night. Thought I’d hang out and see if I could speak to the manager.”
My stomach jumps and goes warm. He came all the way here just to see me?
“Did you have a bad experience? Like to make a formal complaint?”
He pushes off my car and takes two steps toward me. Close, but not close enough. His eyes set in their usual glare, he shoves his hands into the pockets of his dark washed jeans. “Mmm . . .” He rubs his fingers across his lower lip, as he did the night in front of Mason. His eyes burn through me. “I have no complaints about my . . . experience.”
His presence combined with his insinuation become too much and I drop my gaze. A tickle of caution pricks at my subconscious, reminding me that I’m not the kind of girl who shies away from flirtation. I’m not timid, demure, or easily swayed by just any man. But there are a few who have brought me to my emotional knees, and both of them I dislike. Immensely.
His feet move into my line of site, and I pull my gaze up to settle on his face. How is he even more beautiful than I remember with all that thick dark hair, his fierce jaw, and full lips that I know are as powerful as they are soft?
“What’re your plans tonight?” He reaches out and brushes my bangs off my forehead.
Such a tiny gesture, but the sweetness of it makes my eyes flutter. “I was going to grab a bite to eat.”
His eyebrows pinch together. “You hungry? I’ll take you to dinner.”
I look around at the empty parking lot then move my eyes back to his. “Now?”
“You hungry now?”
“Then yeah. Now.”
“But it’s the middle of the night.”
The corner of his mouth lifts so slightly it’s barely noticeable. “It’s Vegas, babe.”
“But I’m in the mood for a bacon cheeseburger.” I lick my lips. I can almost taste the greasy goodness. “With green chilis.” My stomach grumbles in agreement. “And onion rings. Not the battered ones, but those breadcrumb ones.” I hum low in my throat. “Oh, and a chocolate milkshake or an ice cold beer will also do.” I tap my lips, thinking. “Hm. Maybe both.”
So lost in my food-fantasy I don’t notice the way he’s staring at me until I focus on him. His glare isn’t as tight as it usually is, and his mouth isn’t the straight—but full and kissable—line it usually is. It’s as if someone pulled the starch from his expression, not completely relaxed, but tender.
Silence builds between us and I shift on my feet. “Or not, ya know . . . I mean whatever you want is fine too.”
He tilts his head, still not speaking.
“There’s an IHOP down off of—”
“Shut up, Yvette.”
God, I hate that name, but hearing it growled from Cameron’s lips makes it more than tolerable.
“I’m sorry, it’s just . . . Did I say something wrong?”
His lips tilt, tilt, and holy shit, tilt some more, lighting his entire face, the entire city of Vegas, probably the whole damn atmosphere with the most brilliant smile.
“Far from wrong, babe.” He grabs my hand and tugs me to his chest. “I dig a woman who knows what she likes and asks for it.”
1. You write such beautiful yet broken female heroines. Which one would you say has been the hardest, and why
Believe it or not, Raven was the hardest for me to write. I think all the other heroines I’ve written are a lot more like me. They sass and backtalk, but Raven never really did. She never cursed, never saw the bad in people, and had a quiet strength that I don’t possess. I really had to hold my own personality back when I wrote her because there were many times I wanted her to throw sass and drop an f-bomb, but it just wasn’t her.
2. If you had to live inside one book for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
Wow, great question! If I could live inside any book I’d like to live at the Brotherhood Mansion with J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. I’d just hang out with Fritz all day and be a spectator to all the drama that goes down in that place.
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Don’t miss the rest of the Fighting Series:
Fighting for Flight (Fighting #1)
Fighting to Forgive (Fighting #2)
Fighting to Forget (Fighting #3)
A Father’s Fight (Fighting #5)
Fighting for Forever (Fighting #6)
Fighting Fate (Fighting #7)
JB Salsbury, New York Times Best Selling author of the Fighting series, lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and two kids. She spends the majority of her day as a domestic engineer. But while she works through her daily chores, a world of battling alphas, budding romance, and impossible obstacles claws away at her subconscious, begging to be released to the page.
Her love of good storytelling led her to earn a degree in Media Communications. With her journalistic background, writing has always been at the forefront, and her love of romance prompted her to sink her free time into novel writing.
Fighting for Flight, Fighting to Forgive, and Fighting to Forget are the first three novels in the MMA romance series. Fighting the Fall is due to be released in November 2014.
For more information on the series or just to say hello, visit JB on her website, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads page.