Review: In the Ring by Rie Warren (Boxer #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Enticing Journey Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Several nights later, we had the gay guy talk. The bottom-top talk. Only really it was more like sexy warfare--or naked MMA. And really I'd let Michael split my ass open with his cock, except I didn't want him to think I was cheap and easy. Even though for him I was completely cheap and easy.

With a less than ideal upbringing, Liam Shaughnessy learned how to fight at a young age. As he grew older, he rose from the ranks of underground mixed martial arts fighting to become one of the most promising contenders in professional boxing's heavyweight division. Everything he does, he gives his all, and anything he does he does for his family and for one other person--his trainer Michael Fairweather. Michael has inspired Liam to go harder, faster, and stronger and it's made him into the beast he is today. But being around Michael makes Liam want things that he knows he can never ask for, not if he wants to risk losing his shot at a title bout and not if he wants to keep Michael as part of his team. Michael is out and he's in a relationship; Liam is...not. When it becomes clear that Michael wants Liam as much as Liam wants him, keeping things quiet becomes a necessity. As much as Michael cares about Liam, however, he refuses to be Liam's dirty secret, and when push comes to shove, will Michael come clean and admit the truth to the public or will his first ever loss consist of Liam losing the only guy he's ever loved?

Holy Hotness, Batman! This was just...WOW! Fanning myself stopped being an option after the shower scene between main characters Liam Shaughnessy and Michael Fairweather, so reading the book in front of the air conditioner was the only thing that could have stopped me from sweating it out with these two. In the Ring, the first novel in the Boxer series and my first ever Rie Warren read is, hands down, the hottest book I've had the pleasure of reading this year, regardless of the sexuality of the characters involved. The clincher was the fact that this wasn't merely about the sex and how professional boxer Liam was dealing with being, not just in the proverbial closet, but lusting over his trainer Michael, but also about Liam's issues with his family, his career, and how his sexuality affected both, especially with Liam wanting to desperately help his mother and three siblings out.

This had the trifecta I crave for: characters worth swooning over and falling for, a worthwhile story with that fine balance of heart and heat and lightheartedness and angst and giving me something to both ponder and feel, and nearly flawless storytelling and writing that barely faltered from start to finish. Aside from Liam and Michael, there were also certain supporting characters that were worth taking note of, like Sean, Liam's coach, Anya, Liam's beard, and Betty the waitress. Devlin, Liam's manager, was also noteworthy but then my personal feelings of hatred towards him don't want me to add him to that list that Sean, Anya, and Betty belong to. This is a series starter and I'm curious to see where Rie Warren takes the series next and if she'll stick to M/M or switch things up with her next offering. Whichever's next, I'm there. In the Ring is one of my favorite reads for 2016 and gets five-plus stars. ♥

Release Date: 05 December 2016

Date Read: 04 December 2016

Learn more about Rie Warren.

Purchase In the Ring on Amazon.