On the Ropes is the first book in the Down for the Count series by Christa Cervone. This is the first book I have read by her, but I love me some sexy fighters. I was sucked right into the story and really felt for all that Gabriel was going to have to face. While I loved his character, I didn't immediately feel the same about Salem. This book was good, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Gabriel "The Saint" Vega and his brother Jason were separated as children and forced into different foster homes after their father murdered their mother. Gabriel was taken under the wing of a man named Frankie that helped him to channel his aggression and make something of himself as a boxer. Now years later Gabriel is preparing for his first big fight while also helping Frankie with helping other at risk youth like he was. When a rich man named Blaine approaches Frankie and Saint about sponsoring him, things finally begin to look as though they are about to pay off. Except then Saint meets Blaine's girlfriend Salem and even though he knows its wrong, he can't help but want her for his own.
Like I said before, I loved Saint. He was a good guy, and he was a lot of fun. He liked to go out and have a good time and keep things casual with women, but he was also really dedicated to being the best fighter he could be. He kept his training in mind, and knew that he had to act differently at times. He also knew that something about Salem was different, and he wanted her to know that he didn't view her like all the other women he had been with. He was interested in more with her, and I liked that he showed her that. Salem was extremely hard for me to like, and if I'm honest I pretty much hated her until about 55% of the way through this book. She came off as a spoiled snob, and there were no redeeming qualities about her at all. But then suddenly we get to see beneath her shell a bit, and she isn't just her attitude. I was glad that we finally got to see more of her vulnerability, because for the longest time I really couldn't figure out why Saint or Blaine would want anything to do with her.
Besides Salem herself, I also had a bit of a problem with the way things were handled between Saint and Salem. If you are against cheating, I would suggest that you probably don't read this book. Not only does Blaine constantly cheat on Salem throughout this story, but Salem never breaks up with Blaine either. So everything that Saint and Salem are beginning to build and feel happens while she is with someone else. I don't think much of the relationship between Blaine and Salem and clearly he has no respect for her, but her cheating on him as well doesn't make it right. I kept waiting for her to finally wake up and end things so her and Saint could have a shot. While this book doesn't end on a huge cliffhanger, things are still up in the air and their story continues in the next book Going the Distance. I am curious to see what happens next, and I really hope that things are a bit different going forward. I think if you like sexy fighters and can handle some infidelity, that you might give this one a shot.
**Review Copy Provided by Author**