Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Tour for Against the Cage by Sidney Halston (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Today I'm introducing you to debut author Sidney Halston with her steamy debut novel, Against the Cage, featuring blood sweat and tears along the rocky road to romance.  Keep reading to get a glimpse of this book, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about this book by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour.  Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 GC, a copy of Against the Cage, and swag too.

In her Loveswept debut, Sidney Halston turns up the heat as a sexy cage fighter shows a former bookworm how delicious a few rounds between the sheets can be.
For Chrissy Martin, returning to her Florida hometown always seems to bring bad luck. The day starts with a breakup text, followed by a jailhouse phone call from her troublemaker brother. Now a routine traffic stop has ended with her accidentally punching an officer . . . in a delicate place. Then Chrissy realizes that the hot cop on the receiving end of her right hook is none other than the man from her teenage fantasies.
Jack Daniels knows how to take a hit. After all, when he’s not chasing reckless drivers, he’s kicking ass in a mixed martial arts ring. So what takes his breath away isn’t the low blow, but the woman who dealt it: a gorgeous knockout with legs Jack wouldn’t mind being pinned under—who just so happens to be his best friend’s nerdy little sister, all grown up. Soon their instant chemistry leads to a sizzling affair, but Jack and Chrissy are fighting an uphill battle if they want to make love last beyond the final bell.


The scene: After getting pulled over and accidentally hitting the police officer in a very sensitive place, Chrissy’s in for one more surprise…
Jack squinted. “Chris?”
“Hi Jack.”
“Now, it all makes sense. You punched me in the balls on purpose!”
“No way! That was completely by accident. But, had I known it was you, the results would have probably been the same.”
“What are you doing back in town?”
“I think you know,” replied Chrissy.
“Your brother?”
She nodded. “Yep. The one and only, the notorious Slade Martin.”
“He shouldn’t have called you. I was going to handle it tomorrow,” said Jack.
“Too late now. I’m here. So, now that you know it’s me, I’m sure I can’t charm my way out of this ticket?”
Jack chuckled. “Charm was never your strong suit, Chris.”
When Slade was five and Chrissy was two, their mother had died, and their father, Richard Martin, had uprooted them from Miami, Florida five hours north to Tarpon Springs. Slade had told Jack how his father thought it would be better to raise his children in the small town, closer to his best friends, Abbot and Joan Daniels, Jack’s parents. As luck would have it, the house right next door to the Daniels had been for sale and within three months of his wife’s death, Richard had purchased the small ocean-front home. From the time they both became sick from eating sand from the sand box in kindergarten, Jack and Slade had been best friends. Inseparable, really. Three years younger, Chrissy tried to tag along with them everywhere, but she had been nothing but a nuisance. Where she’d always been, Prissy Chrissy, the straight A do-no-wrong tattle tale, Jack and Slade were the always-in-trouble-barely-passing-school menaces of the town. It was a no-brainer Chrissy would get the hell out of Dodge (or in this case, hot, humid, mosquito-infested, Tarpon Springs) as soon as she had the opportunity. She’d left a few months after she had graduated high school. Jack had never had a chance to say goodbye. One day he woke up, and Chrissy was gone.
When he’d last seen her, she was a frumpy, slightly overweight, short black pixie hair-doed bookworm. She’d always worn glasses and her clothes were always on the practical side. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about her looks. By no means was she ugly, she was just…Chris. His best friend’s nerdy little sister. Not exactly one of the boys, but she did try to hang around as much as possible. Hated getting dirty, but tried to play in the mud because Slade and Jack were playing in it. Tried her hand at stick-ball but got hurt more times than not. She’d tried so hard to impress them, but always failed.
But neither was she into ballet or frilly dresses, like the other girls. She was into reading and homework. She was the town darling and everyone loved her. Probably because she was friendly and didn’t know the definition of ‘no’. In truth, she was a push-over. Dare he say, meek. She’d always ended up doing whatever Slade or Jack said. No questions asked. Sometimes she’d stomped her feet or pouted, but she still ended up doing whatever they said.
The woman staring back at him now didn’t look like she’d be caught dead playing stick-ball or anywhere close to mud. She sure as hell didn’t seem meek. And she sure as hell wasn’t trying to impress him. She looked furious that he’d stopped her. In fact, she was seething and he could feel the heat coming out of her pores, even through the barrier of the car door between them. The glasses were still there, barely covering the bluest eyes he’d ever seen, but from what he could see from the neck up, that was all that remained the same. Now, she had a spark in her eyes that was missing all those years ago. Suddenly, he was dying to see the rest of her.




Books featuring hotties dabbling in the MMA arena are becoming all the rage and with Against the Cage Ms. Halston has joined in the fun.  With this debut release the action is fast-paced, the sexual encounters steamy, and the characters are at times likable and at other times annoying.  On a whole though I found this an enjoyable read with just a few quibbles that kept me from falling in love with it completely.

Growing up Chrissy was a studious nerd who yearned for adventure.  She knew just where to find it by following her troublemaking brother and his best friend Jack as they went from one drunken sex party to another.  Unfortunately her fun always ended before it started as Jack saw it as his duty to protect her and always kept her out of harm's way which enforced her belief that he saw her as a child.  As she saw him as something much more she became bitter and disillusioned and ultimately moved on.  This led to a tragic event that saw her bruised inside and out, her father dead, and her brother full of anger at her.  For years she ran away from the pain of the past until her brother's trouble had her coming home and dealing with her past head-on.  Chrissy's no longer the doormat she once was but she hasn't grown up completely either as she occasionally pouted when she didn't get her way, jumped to conclusions, and still held grudges over things that happened when they were young.  She's definitely a woman when it comes to her sexual desires for Jack but her actions at times were childish.  She insisted she didn't need a keeper but Jack was always there as she repeatedly stumbled into danger.  Chrissy may have left me frustrated more often than not but she was memorable and left a lasting impression everywhere she went throughout the story.

Jack has always cared for Chrissy and was caught off guard by his ever deepening feelings for her.  He missed her all the years she was gone and doesn't want to waste any more time dwelling on the past.  There's a big barrier to their burgeoning relationship though as she detests fighting and he loves his time in the cage when he's not on duty as a policeman.  Her past has her terrified of the violence and it takes a lot for him to convince her that what he does isn't who he is.  He's still the man who goes out of his way to keep her safe as he's very much an Alpha Male.  That doesn't mean he's afraid to show his softer more romantic side as he's the first to admit his feelings for her and his hopes for their future.  Combine this sweet and sexy side with his gritty demeanor in the cage and you have a very drool-worthy hero.  Throw in his dirty sex-talk and I was left practically panting!

Along with Chrissy and Jack, a lot of time is spent on her brother Slade and the dangerous underground fighting he does that's leading to permanent physical damage.  Chrissy became hysterical over this issue often and I felt like it got swept under the table as the story progressed.  I would've liked to see it dealt with more as the possible outcomes had me on the edge of my seat.  Slade is a cocky character who's extremely protective of women since the issue of violence against women affected his family years ago.  This issue permeates the entire story in fact and is the catalyst for Chrissy's return to town and sets up a possible romance for Slade.  The issue is dealt with in a realistic and respectful way without being too heavy-handed but also felt rushed amongst the overall storyline.

From start to finish I found this to be an engaging and energetic read with its vivid detailing of MMA fighting where blood copiously flows and you can almost hear bones snap.  The dangers are apparent and the strain this puts on Chrissy and Jack's relationship is obvious and hangs over them until almost the end.  Along with the intensity of these fights there's super steamy sexual interludes and equally hot foreplay.  Once they're reunited these two have trouble keeping their hands off each other even when they're arguing.  The sexual tension is unrelenting and you anticipate them jumping each other every minute.  The overall story though needs a bit of polish as the flow felt jumpy, going from one event to another at the drop of a hat.  Too many characters were introduced throughout the story which was overwhelming at times.  The conclusion of the story was a bit rushed which led to the author telling us instead of showing us how Chrissy and Jack ended up after an out of the blue event put their HEA in jeopardy.  Barring those issues this is a good debut for Ms. Halston and has me wanting to read more of her in the future, particularly this group of friends and family as some of them captured my attention.  Readers who enjoy a steamy read with rapid-fire dialogue will definitely get all that and more with Against the Cage.

My rating for this is a C+

*I received this book via NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Sidney Halston lives her life by one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started” (Mark Twain). Or even simpler: “Just do it” (Nike). And that’s exactly what she did. At the age of thirty, having never written anything other than a legal brief, she picked up a pen for the first time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. That first stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing. Halston lives in South Florida with her husband and children.



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  1. Replies
    1. Thank YOU for stopping by! Will there be more books following the secondary characters introduced here?

      The Scarf Princess