Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review for Tap Out by Cat Grant

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
As a child, Tom Delaney did the best he could to protect his mother from his abusive father, but her eventual suicide left him a guarded and wary man who’s still carrying around a metric ton of baggage.
At Bannon’s Gym, Tom learned how to take back his power, and found love with fellow mixed martial arts fighter Travis Gallagher. Yet Tom can’t bring himself to take their relationship to the next level. Not if moving in together means leaving behind Gloria, his surrogate mom, who’s desperately ill.
When Gloria’s son, Eddie, hires an out-of-work nurse to care for Gloria, Tom is out of excuses—and afraid he’s being pushed out of his family of choice. That fear explodes in a violent sparring session that leaves Travis with a broken nose and Tom on the brink of getting booted out of Bannon’s Gym for good.
When tragedy strikes, Tom realizes it’ll take more than fists to conquer his fears, or he risks losing everything—his fighting career, his family, and the man he loves.


The men of Bannon's Gym continue to get put through the emotional wringer, as do we readers, in this third installment in the series.  This time around the men get to deal with loss and grief as they try to find happiness in this gripping read with intense feelings palpable throughout the story that leads to lots of ups and downs.  Through all the chaos though is the strong and sturdy presence of Danny and Eddie who are juggling the diner, training stars for the UFC, and planning a wedding all while caring for Eddie's mom Gloria who's getting sicker but still espouses words of wisdom.

Just when Tom and Travis seem to be in agreement about being with each other, Tom starts getting cold feet and lets his simmering feelings of jealousy regarding Travis's past with Aaron explode.  This act, coming from a young man who tends to jump to conclusions, tears them apart when Tom needs support more than ever as a gutwrenching tragedy befalls him and Eddie.  Tom has a lot to learn yet in life and trust is one of them.  He also needs to let go of his past as it's choking his future with Travis and holding him back from fully committing.  Travis is an understanding man but after getting repeatedly knocked down even he's had enough in a defining moment in the future of their relationship.  Travis is a forgiving man too as evidenced by his continuing friendship towards the struggling former drug addict Aaron and it's heartwarming to see how far Travis will go to help Aaron stay clean.  Travis and Tom's relationship crackles with energy and is combustible as they find it easier to speak in the fight ring than out.  Theirs is definitely a rocky relationship that clearly matures as the story progresses and it was an engaging journey to witness.

Aaron is a man that has done some pretty bad things in the past, he hurt Travis horribly with his lies when they were together but Ms. Grant performed a miracle in his redemption.  Aaron's truly hurting in this story after realizing all he's lost and how far he's fallen.  His past is always hanging over him as outside forces seek to jeopardize his sobriety.  He works hard to make amends though and I ached for how desperate he was becoming before he found an unexpected support system who gave him help when he needed it most.  We got a lot of insight into Aaron's character through his POV throughout this book and it helped redeem him in my eyes and has me hoping he finds a HEA of his own as he desperately deserves it.

This was a powerful story that you'll need Kleenex to get through as there's lots of heartbreak before we reach the immensely satisfying conclusion that's full of positivity after all the emotional baggage seen weighing people down.  The flow of the story is well-done, with only a bit of predictability regarding an aquaintance of Aaron's, and keeps you fully invested in the character's outcomes amidst their emotional ups and downs.  There were a few sexual encounters along the way but this journey was more about the emotional and showed people at their best and worst.  Though this book can be read on its own readers will appreciate Tom's journey more when seeing how far he's risen from his painful past.  Eddie continues to be the strong and supportive type acting in a brotherly manner towards Tom and his HEA with Danny was greatly anticipated from the very first book and was a richly rewarding part of this story.  Ms. Grant has crafted another satisfying m/m read that brings the UFC to vividly detailed life and while this story definitely feels like the end, I'm hoping for more as Aaron's road to redemption isn't quite complete.

My rating for this is a B+

*I got this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

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