BLOG REVIEW: Fighting Love by Abby Niles

33y.o. veterinarian has come to grips with her 23-year friendship with MMA(mixed-martial arts) fighter Hero.
She's been secretly in love with him ever since but knows that he doesn't ever do commitment with women and has solely treated at her as a friend. However, having him live in her house temporarily is a temptation that she's never had to deal with. 
Their friendship has been the only constant in 33y.o. Hero's life, especially in the past 4 months since he lost his winning title, his spot in the MMA team, and his house and possessions. 
But his growing awareness of her as a sexy woman shakes him. She's confused by his mixed signals, making comments likening her as his sister and kissing her senseless. His resistance breaks after her seductive maneuvers.
And their affair deepens their closeness.
In the meantime, their fears prevent them from making the commitment they want. Seeing Hero again in his old haunting ground reinforces her fears:
that he'll put his career and his ego first and push her again in the sidelines. What future can they have together?

I liked this Niles book. My 1st read of hers. It was sweet, sometimes funny, sexy, poignant, and touching.  It's told in 3rd person but we get both Hero and heroine's POV(point of view). I felt for heroine for her long unrequited love for Hero who only viewed her platonically during their 23-year friendship. I liked that she didn't pine for him and lived an active life with her vet career and even dating when she felt like it. I liked her realistic and practical grasp of life. It's what allowed to put her love for him in perspective and helped her be basically content to only be friends with Hero. She knew he had problems with committing to women, since he's never done so before. And they lived separate enough lives all those years to make their get-togethers easy to handle.  So, having him live in her house with her for an unknown amount of time filled her with a bit of dread. And she was fine with how she  was able to rationalize away her sexual reactions to his nearness. But, when he began to view her differently, it was funny how much effort she had to put to deny that he desired her back. 

Hero's confused reactions to his new attraction to heroine was even funnier and exciting. It took him a while to accept that he was sexually attracted to her and to sift through the changes in his perception of her as just his best buddy. We see his continued character growth in his re-evaluation of his relationship with heroine. The book began with Hero already in the midst of making changes in his life.  It was interesting to see how his most recent loss made him realize the value of heroine.  It brought to mind the stereotype of males maturing later than females. In this case, it was true. Heroine had a good head on her shoulders emotionally, career-wise, financially, and personally. Hero was still busy playing and letting his ego rule his world until his major losses the last 4 months. Her confronting him to grow up hurt but stuck with him. Comparing his life with hers made him more resolute to change for the better. His fears about his ability to commit to heroine and not hurt her in the process came forefront, the deeper he fell for her.

     -----------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the books details---------

He believed he was like his neglectful alcoholic mother, who had a revolving door of men and didn't care who got trampled. Hero went through women like tissues and he didn't lose sleep over it. But, now that he's wildly attracted to heroine, he was afraid of using her the same way and hurting her and destroying their friendship. It's what kept him from jumping fully in to an affair heroine was very willing to have. It showed that he was a caring man, able to give selflessly to others. And we see him deliberately making an effort to treat her romantically and make her feel special. He showed more care in ensuring he was a good boyfriend to her than he did with his second chance at his MMA career. It was really sweet and touching. And he was constant with it. His 4-month celibacy, with only heroine able to sexually arouse him, added to the stability of his love for her.

    -----------------------------------------------END SPOILERS-------------------------------------------------

Heroine's fears of being minimized and forgotten again when he made a career comeback brought some poignancy. We got a good sense of what it was like for her to be marginalized as   being his friend only when she'd loved him for years and years. We saw her hurt and deal with it and move on. So her fears now of being pushed aside was understandable. Their romance was new and Hero seemed reticent to make any official commitment to her. Her finding out that no one in his MMA team knew they were together and seeing how he acted at the bar they went to when his fans where around confirmed her fears. It showed how strong she was to be able to break things off with him and not succumb to his apologies. She reached her limit and it was self-preservation and wisdom that enabled her to make a stand to stop things now before she got hurt even more later. She wasn't a fool.

Hero groveled. It was mostly verbal and a video-recording of it. Heroine decided not to watch him after he won the fight. So she missed the groveling speech he made, when he received his title. As far as grovels go, it was decent. Hearing it 2nd-hand through a recording, though, diluted the full impact of being there at the moment. Having Hero inform her of his grovel and then having her watch what she missed just didn't seem all that romantic. I believed he meant  what he said. It was the timing and the 2nd-hand delivery that took away from the grovel. An epilogue would've really helped also. It would've been great to see Hero make good on his promise to put her 1st, when he became even more successful. I would've like to see her feel loved, attended to, and cherished when he's attending to his fans and other parts of his career. 

I recommend this book.
4-star

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