Review: Holding Strong and Tough Love by Lori Foster

Posted August 19, 2015 in Review / 5 Comments


Holding Strong and Tough Love are books two and three (respectively) of Lori Foster’s Ultimate series – a romance series based around up and coming MMA fighters.  I’m doing both reviews today because my blog was broke when Holding Strong came out and with Tough Love coming out next week, it’s time to talk Lori Foster!




Review: Holding Strong and Tough Love by Lori Foster

Holding Strong

Series: Ultimate #2
by Lori Foster
Published by Harlequin, HQN on March 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 480
Format: eARC

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

AmazonBarnes&Noble Goodreads
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn't share. That's why he's been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry's about to need more than she knows…

Denver's combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she's been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can't hide behind a carefree facade. Because the man by her side is one who'll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she'll trust him enough to let him…

Lori Foster has started each one of the Ultimate books with a little blurb about MMA fighting and specifics about the characters and story she’s sharing.  In Holding Strong, she mentions that this is one of her sexiest books ever (paraphrased).  I wholeheartedly agree, Ms. Foster!  Very hot, very romantic, very, very….  oh, hells!!  So far this is MY FAVORITE book of the series, hands down (tee, hee).

Denver Lewis is my kind of leading man.  He’s what I like to call a “man’s man”.  He’s pure hunk, cares very little about his looks because he can’t be bothered to get a haircut, and oh my, he already knows Cherry Peyton would be perfect for him.  Except he thinks she’s a flirt with every guy she comes in contact with.  He’s looking for more than casual with Cherry.  He want’s to make her HIS.

Cherry isn’t really a flirt, though.  She’s just happy.  She likes to dance, she enjoys her friends, and she works hard for her independence.  She’s a cute little spitfire of a girl despite the hell of a home she was raised in.  She also knows she really likes Denver.  Problem is, he doesn’t seem at all interested, despite all the “vibes” Cherry is sending his way.

I really appreciate that Ms. Foster didn’t waste precious story space making these two dance around each other.  Denver gets over himself quickly and things start to heat up between him and Cherry.  What made this romance so interesting to me was the incredibly thought out back stories of these two.  And then Ms. Foster went and interwoven them…  and further complicated them with more characters.  I eat up plots that are well planned and executed.

But besides the crazy tension filled story that played in the background, we all know I love romances for their (cough) romance… okay sex!  Denver and Cherry’s chemistry is off the Richter scale earth shattering.  It’s mostly due to Denver – this man is amazing and doesn’t let you forget it.  He tells you exactly what is going to happen.  Hot…

A surprising bonus for me came when Denver smartly explained the difference between brawling and MMA fighting.  It fit into the story so perfectly.  It illustrated that these Ultimate fighters are disciplined athletes who train hard and intelligently.  As a regular viewer of MMA matches, I can completely appreciate this.

Holding Strong and I just completely clicked.  This story was written to entertain ME, and if anyone else enjoys it!  Eh, good for you.  I’m kidding… great for Ms. Foster!

Seriously, Ms. Foster just nailed it with Denver and Cherry’s story.

Even if she did write it for me…




Review: Holding Strong and Tough Love by Lori Foster

Tough Love

Series: Ultimate #3
by Lori Foster
Published by Harlequin, HQN on August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 544
Format: eARC

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

AmazonBarnes&Noble Goodreads
One StarOne StarOne Star

Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she's not above playing a little dirty. She's wanted Stack "The Wolf" Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack's past steps out of the shadows.

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he's the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they're much more than friends with benefits. He's ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who's tamed him for good?


I had a tougher time getting into Tough Love.  Perhaps it was the time between books?  Maybe it was because the stories were so different from each other.  I think the real reason was my mood.  I’ve actually discussed and dissected this story a bit with a blogger friend of mine who I completely trust.  She loved Tough Love.  Yep, it was all me…  trust her!

Here’s my impression: I think that I was looking for another damsel in distress tale.  After books one and two, you kind of expect some major drama of some kind to rear its ugly head as a sub plot to the romance.  I was disappointed at about 20% when I still couldn’t figure out the plot to the story.

Don’t worry, there is a plot!  It’s just a more subtle, less in your face, than the last two books’ plots.  This story is more a study of character, schemes, and what a lie is.  Is it a lie if you omit the truth?  Oh, and that pesky thing we didn’t sign up for called “family drama”.  Ugh…  I hate family drama.

And there you go!  Another possible reason why I didn’t “click” with this book.  Family drama is a brain suck for me.  I’ve dealt with it and can’t stand it.  Total pet peeve.  And then to add in a grown, adult child who won’t make the right decisions for themselves and the parent is enabling that child.  !@#$%!@#$%!!!!  No thanks.  Saw that kind of drama from the sidelines kill a childhood friend – it ain’t pretty for anybody.  So needless to say, some characters got on my nerves.

What did I like?  I liked that Stack had changed from when we first met him in Holding Strong.  He was a serial dater back then and ever since Vanity threw down the wedding date with benefits opportunity, Stack has changed his tune.  Vanity, for her part, is a fantastic character.  We learn more about her backstory and we understand why she is the way she is.  It’s an interesting conundrum to dissect in a romance novel (I can’t spoil it for you!)

I really loved the future that was hinted at for these two!  Yet another reason why I’m impatiently waiting for Fighting Dirty, Armie’s story, which is expected to published in February 2016.  I’m hoping we get a glimpse of what happened for these two, as well wrap-ups with everyone else (please?)

And always remember, a three star review is NOT bad.  I told you ahead of time, trust everyone else on this book – I’ve just got to be honest 😉



About Lori Foster

Lori Foster

Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a Waldenbooks, Borders, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. Lori has published through a variety of houses, including Kensington, St. Martin’s, Berkley, Silhouette and Samhain. She is currently with Harlequin.

Lori believes it’s important to give back to the community as much as possible, and for that reason she ran special contests in conjunction with a publisher, facilitating many first sales for new authors. She routinely organizes events among authors and readers to gather donations for various organizations.

Lori hosts a very special annual “Reader & Author” event in West Chester, Ohio. Proceeds from the event have benefited many worthy causes, including the Hamilton County YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter, the Animal Adoption Foundation, The Conductive Learning Center for children with spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and The One Way Farm, Children’s Home.




About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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5 responses to “Review: Holding Strong and Tough Love by Lori Foster

  1. I don’t read a lot of sports and/or contact sport themed romances. The technicalities and the octagon ring or whatever that’s called, just flies over my head. So I end up skimming the parts… which weakens the plot and limits my enjoyment.

    That said, I do want to try her work at some point. I know she has a romantic suspense series too that doesn’t involve atheletes? I might have to try that instead.

    Fab reviews!
    Braine recently posted…When Players Stop Playing: Acts of Creation by Elisabeth Staab