Interview + Excerpts from Six Bestselling MMA Authors

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So excited to share with you this two-part feature! Today, on my USA Today HEA column, Love In Suspense, I interview six bestselling authors who write about the irresistible men who fight with their fists, who love fiercely, who seem to drive us crazy in the best possible way. I’m thrilled to discuss these novels with authors Lori Foster, Katy Evans, Kendall Ryan, Gina L. Maxwell, JB Salsbury and LP Dover.

✦ Check out my interview here

I also have exclusive excerpts from two soon-to-released books: Reckless Love by Kendall Ryan and Holding Strong by Lori Foster. Plus, excerpts from much-loved novels from Katy Evans, Gina L. Maxwell, JB Salsbury and LP Dover.

reckless love 2
Reckless Love

by Kendall Ryan

Releases March 17 – Pre-order

I could have just sat there looking into his eyes all night, but his lips were only inches from mine. With that realization, a need grew inside me. I had to taste him. I needed to kiss his lips and let him know that I was his. Slipping my arms around his neck, I closed the distance between us, gently kissing his bottom lip.

He grunted, and I pulled away.

“Did I hurt you?” I asked.

His mouth tugged up in a playful smirk. “Sweetheart, I hurt all over. But don’t ever stop kissing me. It’s worth the pain.”

His swollen eye grabbed my attention again. I brushed it lightly and then kissed his eyebrow and his swollen cheek. I wanted to kiss away all the hurt.

I pulled away and took his injured hand. “Ian, we need to—”

He didn’t let me finish, instead he pulled me into his arms and kissed me hard. I tasted metal and salt in his mouth; he tasted like a fighter. Brutal and powerful and strong. I wanted more. Even with his injured hand, he pulled me onto his lap so that I was straddling him.

“We need to take care of some unfinished business,” he grunted as he pressed my center into him. He was already hard, and my body ached for his.

Reading Order

hard to lover cover Reckless Love

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

Holding Strong cover

Holding Strong

by Lori Strong

Releases March 31 – Pre-order

Twisting around, he forgot all about harassing his friend—which had probably been Armie’s intent. But damn, he hadn’t lied. Denver watched Cherry laugh-ingly refuse an insistent guy bent on gaining her cooperation. The slow, thrumming music would have meant a different type of dance and Denver let out a breath when she didn’t give in.

Seeing her body to body with another man, this time someone he didn’t know, would have made him nuts.

Stack sat to one side of her, also watching the idiot who refused to take no for an answer.

To her other side, Miles started to frown. Suddenly Cherry pushed back her chair and an ugly

tension sank into Denver’s chest—until she grabbed up her purse and made a hasty getaway toward the restrooms. When the idiot started to follow, Miles blocked his way while Stack spoke close to his ear. Whatever he said made loverboy frown and search the bar.

It wasn’t until his gaze clashed with Denver’s that he gave up and stalked away—in the opposite

direction that Cherry had gone.

Smiles quirking, Stack and Miles both saluted Denver, then went back to their table and the other women there.

He was wondering what Stack had said when Armie shoved him, and Denver almost dropped off his seat. Righting himself, he muttered, “What the fuck?” and shoved Armie back. But since Armie wasn’t daydreaming as Denver had been, he barely budged.

Snickering, Armie shook his head. “Damn man, get it together or go after her.”

Reading Order

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real cover

Real

by Katy Evans

Available Now

Brooke

Melanie has been shouting in my ear for the past half hour and my nerves are so frazzled by what we’re witnessing, I can barely even hear anything. Only my heart. Beating like crazy in my head as the two fighters in the underground boxing ring lunge at each other, both men equal in height and weight, both extremely muscled as they pound each other’s faces in.

Every time one of them lands a punch, cheers and claps burst across the room, which is crowded with at least three hundred spectators, all of them thirsting for blood. The worst part of it all is that I can hearthe god-awful sound of bone cracking against flesh, and the hairs on my arms are pricked in utter fear. Any minute now I expect one of them to fall and never, ever, get up again.

“Brooke!” Melanie, my best friend, squeals and hugs me. “You look ready to puke, you are so not cut out for this!”

I’m seriously going to kill her.

As soon as I take my eyes off these men and make sure they’re both breathing when they finish this round, I’m going to murder my best friend without mercy. And then myself for agreeing to come here in the first place.

But my poor, dear Melanie has a new man-crush, and as soon as she found out the object of her nightly fantasies was in the city participating in these “private” and very “dangerous” underground club fighting games, she begged me to come with her and watch him. It’s just hard to say no to Melanie. She’s effusive and insistent, and now she’s jumping in glee.

“He’s next,” she hisses, uncaring of who won this last round, or if they even survived. Which apparently, thank god, they both did. “Get ready for some serious piece of eye candy, Brookey!”

The public falls silent, and the announcer calls, “Ladies and gentlemen, and noooww … the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the man you’re all here to see. The baddest of the bad, I give you, the one, the only, Remington ‘Riptide’ Tate!”

A shiver runs along my spine as the crowd goes crazy over the name alone, especially the women, and their eager shouts tumble one atop the other.

“Remy! I love you, Remy!”

“I’ll suck your cock for you, Remy!”

“REMY, POUND ME, REMY!”

“Remington I want your Riptide!”

All heads turn as a figure in a hooded red cape trots toward the ring. The fighters tonight apparently don’t wear boxing gloves, and I see his fingers flex and fist at his sides, his hands enormous and tanned, his fingers long.

Across the ring from me, a woman waves a poster reading “REMY’S #1 BITCH” proudly in the air, and she’s screaming at the top of her lungs in his direction—I guess in case he doesn’t know how to read or misses the neon pink letters or the glitter.

I’m so astounded, only now realizing my crazy best friend isn’t the only female in Seattle who’s apparently lost her head for this guy, when I feel her squeezing my arm. “I dare you to look at him and tell me you wouldn’t do anything for that man.”

“I wouldn’t do anything for that man,” I instantly repeat, just to win.

“You’re not looking!” she squeals. “Look at him. Look.

She grabs my face and swings my gaze in the direction of the ring, but I start laughing instead. Melanie loves men. Loves to sleep with them, stalk them, drool about them, and yet when she catches them, she can never really hold onto them. I, on the other hand, am not interested in getting involved with anyone.

Not when my romantic little sister, Nora, has had enough boyfriends, and drama, for both of us.

I stare up at the stage as the guy whips off the satin red robe with the word RIPTIDE on the back, and the spectators stand screaming and cheering as he slowly turns to acknowledge them all. His face is suddenly before me, illuminated by the lights, and I just stare like an idiot from my place. My god.

My.

God.

Dimples.

Dark scruffy jaw.

Boyish smile. Man’s body.

Killer tan.

A shiver shoots down my spine as I helplessly drink in the entire package everyone else seems to be gaping at.

He has black hair, standing up sexily as if women have just had their fingers there. Cheekbones as strong as his jaw and forehead. Lips that are red-kissed and swollen, and as a souvenir from his walk to the ring, there’s lipstick on his jaw. I look down his long, lean body and something hot and wild settles in my core.

He’s mesmerizingly perfect and incredibly hard. Everything, from his beautifully slim hips and narrow waist to his broad shoulders, is solid. And that six-pack. No. It’s an eight-pack. The sexy V of his obliques dips into his satin, navy blue shorts, which gently hug his powerful legs, thick with muscle. I can see his quads, traps, pecs, and biceps, all gloriously tight and cut. Celtic tattoos circle both of his arms, exactly where his bulging biceps and the rigid square deltoids of his shoulders meet.

“Remy! Remy!” Mel shouts hysterically at my side, hands cupped to her mouth. “You’re so fucking hot, Remy!”

His head angles to the sound, one dimple showing with a sexy smile as he faces us. A frisson of nervous energy passes through me, not because he’s extremely gorgeous from this perfect view—because he is, he definitely is, goodness, hereally is—but mostly because he’s looking straight at me.

One eyebrow cocks, and there’s a glimmer of amusement in his entrancing blue eyes. Also something … warm in his gaze. Like he thinks I’m the one who shouted. Oh, shit.

He winks at me, and I’m stunned as his smile slowly fades, morphing into one that’s unbearably intimate.

My blood simmers.

My sex clenches tight, and I hate that he seems to know it.

I can see he thinks he’s the ultimate creation, and he seems to believe every woman here is his Eve, created from his ribcage for him to enjoy. I’m both aroused and infuriated, and this is the most confusing feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.

His lips curl, and he turns when his opponent is announced with the words, “Kirk Dirkwood, The Hammer, here for all of you tonight!”

“You little slut, Mel!” I cry when I recover, shoving her playfully. “Why did you have to scream like that? He thinks I’m the nutcase now.”

“Omigod! He did not just wink at you,” Melanie says, visibly stunned.

Oh my god, he had. Hadn’t he? He did.

I’m just as astounded as I relive the wink in my head, and I’m totally going to torture Melanie because she deserves it, the little tramp.

“He did,” I finally admit, scowling at her. “We telepathically communicated, and he says he wants to take me home to be the mother of his sexy babies.”

“Like you would have sex with someone like him. You and your OCD!” she says, laughing her head off as Remington’s opponent takes off his robe. The man is all beefy muscle, but not an ounce of him can visually compete with the pure male deliciousness of that “Riptide.”

Remington flexes his arms at his sides, stretches his fingers out and forms fists, then bounces on his calves. He’s a large, muscular man but surprisingly light on his feet, which I know—because I used to compete in track—means he’s incredibly strong to be able to keep his body aloft in the air with such a minor tap of his feet.

Hammer throws the first punch. Remington evades it with a smart duck, and he comes back up with a full swing that connects and knocks Hammer’s face to the side. I inwardly flinch at the power in his punch; my body clenches at the sight of his muscles contracting and tensing, working and releasing, with each punch he delivers.

The crowd watches, enraptured, as the fight continues, those awful cracking sounds filling me with goose bumps. But there’s something else bothering me. The fact that beads of perspiration pop on my brow, in my cleavage. As the fight progresses, my nipples strain, even more puckered and tighter, against my top, pushing anxiously against the silk of the fabric. Somehow watching Remington Tate pound a man they call “Hammer” makes me squirm in my skirt in a way I don’t like, much less ever expected.

The way he swings, moves, growls

Suddenly, a chorus begins, “REMY … REMY … REMY.”

I turn and see Melanie jumping up and down and saying “Omigod, hit him, Remy! Just knock him dead, you sexy beast!” She screams when his opponent falls to the ground with a loud thump. My panties are soaked, and my pulse has gone haywire. I’ve never condoned violence. This isn’t me, and I blink in stupefaction at the sensations whipping through my system. Lust, pure, white-hot lust, flutters through my nerve endings.

The ringmaster lifts Remington’s arm in victory, and as soon as he straightens from the knockout blow he just delivered, his gaze swings in my direction and crashes into me. Piercing blue eyes meet mine, and something knots and pulls inside my tummy. His sweaty chest rises and falls in a deep pant, and a drop of blood rests at the corner of his lips. Through it all, his eyes are glued to me.

Heat spreads under my skin, and the flames lick me all over. I will never admit this to Melanie, not even to myself out loud, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a hot man in my life. The way he stares at me is hot. The way he stands there, with his hand held in the air, his muscles dripping sweat, with that air of authority Mel told me about in the cab.

There’s no apology in his stare. In the way he ignores everyone that shouts his name and stares at me with a look that’s so sexual I almost feel taken right here. An awful awareness of the exact way I look to him sweeps over me.

My long, straight hair, the color of mahogany, falls to my shoulders. My button-up white shirt is sleeveless, but it goes up my throat in a lacy mock-neck, and the hem is tucked nicely into a pair of high-waisted, but perfectly presentable, black pants. A small set of gold hoop earrings nicely complement my honeyed whiskey eyes. Despite my conservative choice of clothes, I feel completely naked.

My legs wobble, and I’m left with the distinct impression this man wants to pound me next. With his cock. Please, god, I did not just think that; Melanie would. Another tightening in my womb distresses me.

“REMY! REMY! REMY! REMY!” people chant, growing in intensity.

“You want more Remy?” the man with the microphone asks the crowd, and the noise builds around us. “All right then, people! Let’s bring out a worthier opponent for Remington Riptide Tate tonight!”

Another man steps into the ring, and I can’t bear it anymore. My system is on overload. This is probably why it’s not a good idea to forego sex for so many years. I’m so worked up that I can barely talk right or even make my legs move as I turn to tell Mel I’m going to the restroom.

A voice blares loudly through the speakers as I charge down the wide path between the stands. “And now, to challenge our reigning champion, ladies and gentlemen, is Parker the ‘Terror’ Drake!”

The crowd comes alive, and suddenly, I hear an unmistakably hard slam.

Resisting the urge to look back at what’s causing the commotion, I round the corner and head straight for the bathroom hall as the speakers flare up again. “Holy cow, that was fast! We have a KO! Yes, ladies and gentlemen! A KO! And in record time, our victor once again, I give you, Riptide! Riptide, who’s now jumping off the ring and—where the hell are you going?”

The crowd goes crazy, calling all the way to the lobby, “Riptide! Riptide!” and then they fall completely quiet, as though something unscripted has just happened.

I wonder about the eerie silence when pounding footsteps echo at my back. A warm hand engulfs mine, and the touch frissons through me as I’m spun around with surprising force.

“What the…” I gasp in confusion, and then stare into a sweaty male chest, and up into glowing blue eyes. My senses reel out of control. He’s so close the scent of him tears through me like a shot of adrenaline.

“Your name,” he growls, panting, his eyes wild on mine.

“Uh, Brooke.”

“Brooke what?” he snaps out, his nostrils flaring.

His animal magnetism is so powerful I think he just took my voice. He’s in my personal space, all over it, absorbing it, absorbing me, taking my oxygen, and I can’t understand the way my heart is beating, the way I stand here, shivering with heat, my entire body focused on the exact spot his hand is wrapped around me.

With trembling efforts, I pry my hand free and glance frightfully at Mel, who comes behind him, wide-eyed. “It’s Brooke Dumas,” she says, and then she happily shoots out my cell phone number. To my chagrin.

His lips curl and he meets my gaze. “Brooke Dumas.” He just fucked my name right in front of me. And right in front of Mel.

And as I feel his tongue twist roughly around those two words, his voice sinfully dark, like things you crave to eat but really shouldn’t, desire swells between my legs. His eyes are hot and almost proprietary when he looks at me. I’ve never been stared at like this before.

He steps forward, and his damp hand slides into the nape of my neck. My pulse skitters as he lowers his dark head to set a small, dry kiss on my lips. It feels like he’s marking me. Like he’s preparing me for something monumental. That could both change and ruin my life.

“Brooke,” he growls softly, meaningfully, against my lips, as he draws back with a smile. “I’m Remington.”

Reading Order

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fighting for flight

Fighting for Flight

by J.B Salsbury

Available Now

Her thoughtful eyes study mine, her eyebrows pinched in concentration. “You found a way to deal with your pain in a healthy way that improved your life.”

“Yeah, I guess. Although sometimes it feels like fighting found me, ya know? I could have gone either way. Jail for assault or the UFL.”

She sighs and rolls to her back, eyes to the ceiling. “If only everything were like that. It’s not easy to do: owning and accepting the pain of our past, the heartbreak, our misgivings, and using them for good. Make our lives better not in spite of it all…but because of it.”

Her whispered words are directed at no one, and I wonder if they were meant more for me or for her. I watch her profile as she continues to inspect the ceiling fan.

It’s not the first time that the girl beside me has knocked me stupid with something that comes from her beautiful mouth. As I sit dazed by her brilliance, my mind attempts to piece together what she’s been through. Being the daughter of a pimp and a prostitute in Las Vegas couldn’t have been easy. Her dad was hawking women’s bodies and profiting from it, even the mother of his own daughter. Revulsion stirs in my gut.

We lie in silence for several long minutes, me lost in thoughts of her, her just looking lost.

Reading Order

 

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tyler's undoing

Tyler’s Undoing

by L.P. Dover

Available Now

“I have one more question for you,” she murmured, leaning her head against the seat and biting her lip provocatively. Her skin tight green T-shirt hung so close to her skin I could see her nipples peeking through the fabric; I wanted to taste them, to roll my tongue around them and make them pucker more. I wanted to taste all of her.

“What’s the question?” I growled low, watching her tongue slide across her lips.

Slowly, she moved forward and stopped only an inch away from me, her mouth so achingly close. It killed me to keep my calm, to not pick her up, carry her into my house, throw her on my bed, and just fuck her like I’d been dying to do since the day I met her. I had never wanted someone so bad and not be able to have them.

“I’m ready for you, Tyler. Are you ready for me?”

Grasping the back of her neck, I brought her closer and gently nipped her bottom lip making her gasp. “You have no fucking idea.”

Reading Order

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fighting for irish

Fighting for Irish

by Gina Maxwell

Available Now

He was covered in sweat and smears of blood and not all of it belonged to him. His right eye had started to swell and the cut on his lip from the week before had been reopened. The invisible injuries, like the one over his left rib cage and the one on the inside of his right calf, would turn shades of purple later. And yet he barely felt any of it. Not yet. Not while the rush of adrenaline coursed through his veins and fueled his muscles. Not while he still had a job to do.

The crowd’s deafening cheers echoed in the old arena, but like the pain the sound was diluted, nothing more than a muffled din in the back of Aiden’s mind. A fighter couldn’t afford distractions. A fighter was trained to focus all his senses on his opponent while keeping his ears open just enough to hear instructions from his corner. Everything else was a blur, like a lens out of focus.

When it was done right, every part of a fighter’s mind and body worked together to accomplish a single goal: win.

The air horn blast sliced through the roars, signaling the end of the second round. The ref broke apart Aiden and the other fighter known as Bulldog and sent them to their corners in the black octagonal cage. Breathing heavily Aiden dropped his ass onto the stool and accepted the bottle Xander offered him. He took his mouth guard out and squeezed some water into his mouth. He swished, turned his head to the side, and spit it onto the mat. The next squeeze he greedily swallowed.

Xan had fought earlier. He had a gash over his left eye and a swollen jaw, but that was nothing compared to what the other guy looked like. Xan had passed to the next round and would be fighting in a week. Now Aiden had to do the same thing or else—

Smack! Aiden’s head snapped to the side before he brought it back to center and glared at his best friend.

“Do I have your attention now, mate? Because you looked like you’d danced off to La La Land, which is exactly where you’ll end up if you don’t bloody finish that fucker in the next five minutes!”

Winning was necessary, which meant focusing was necessary. If Aiden let himself think about anything else—especially the consequences of losing—he was as good as beat. Xander was right. He’d needed the slap in the face.

“You’re holding back,” Xan yelled to be heard above the crowd. “Stop pussy footing around and lay him out!”

“Fuck off,” he growled as one of Xan’s fight buddies smeared Vaseline on his cheeks, nose, and forehead. “What do you think I’m trying to do out there?”

Xander got right in his face and nailed him with a serious look. “I think you’re afraid to let yourself go and fight like you used to. But I’m telling you, if you keep the animal caged much longer, Aid, you’re going to lose. That guy is no joke.”

No, he wasn’t. Bulldog was a few inches shorter than Aiden’s six-four, but weighed in at two-forty, which made him a heavyweight. At two-oh-five Aiden fell into the light heavyweight category, but the underground circuit wasn’t concerned with keeping strict weight classes.

Aiden glanced across the cage at the other fighter. He was already standing, shaking his muscles out and cracking his neck to either side as he waited to be called out for the final round. Fuck, he was a beast. But he was slow and preferred the ground game. Aiden’s best bet was to keep him standing and hope to land a punch just right that would knock the guy’s lights out.

The end of the break sounded. He stood and shoved his mouth guard back in. Before Xander picked up the stool and left the octagon, he spoke in Aiden’s ear. “Either you finish him or Kat’s as good as sold to the highest bidder.”

So much for not thinking about the consequences.

Reading Order

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