Review: Below the Belt by Sidney Halston (Worth the Fight #3)

With nary a hair out of place and her business suits exuding professional perfection, Francesca Silva is a woman on a mission--to make sure her father's legacy is intact and that the gym he founded and that she now co-owns becomes successful. She doesn't entertain requests for dates from any man, but there is one in particular who remains persistent in spite of her repeated rejection: mixed martial arts star Antonio Marino. The more he gets to know her, the more fascinated Tony becomes with the woman behind the cool façade. But intimacy is the last thing Francesca wants and with Tony being the temperamental man that he is, she's not sure if he's someone she can take a chance on, even though he's quite the temptation.

Below the Belt is the third novel in the Sidney Halston-penned Worth the Fight series and turns the spotlight on Francesca Silva, co-owner of the Worth the Fight Academy gym who is trying to make sure it becomes a lucrative investment, and Tony Marino, a professional MMA fighter who is no longer at the top of his game and trains with the WtF gym. Francesca and Tony have a lot in common but it's their need to be the alpha--the person in control--and the refusal to bend to the will of others that makes them butt heads quite a number of times. There's more to both Francesca and Tony than meets the eye, especially Francesca, and I'm glad that fans of the series finally get to learn more about these two lead characters.

With both Francesca and Tony being Latin Americans, their fiery tempers come into play and they do have tempestuous confrontations at times. Francesca proves that she knows what she's talking about when it comes to what Tony needs to do in order to prepare for his next fight, and it was good to see a side of her that was a contradiction of sorts to the cool, calm, and collected businesswoman she's initially portrayed as. She deflects Tony's advances repeatedly but I need to give the guy credit: he's persistent and once he and Francesca cross the line, he realizes that once is never going to be enough for either of them. He knows there's a passionate woman beyond her self-erected walls and he wants Francesca to rediscover her.

As was the case in the second book, there's a point in this story where the lead characters find themselves taking steps back in their relationship, with the action initiated by the woman and yet she's the one unable to really keep her distance for very long. There's a certain lack of trust and they do jump to baseless conclusions that escalate into rows. I did like Francesca and Tony together since they provided that sense of balance that the other seemed to be missing. These two were definitely not boring and kept things interesting with the bickering and bantering, which is par for the course as far as the series as a whole is concerned and is part of the reason the series is addictive. Below the Belt receives four out of five stars. ♥

Date Read: 16 August 2015

Learn more about Sidney Halston here.

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