FIGHTING DIRTY Lori Foster
Ultimate Series , Book 4
HQN Books
ISBN-13:  978-0-37-378917-7
March 2016
Romantic Suspense

Present Day

Armie Jacobson, known as Quick to his fellow MMA fighters, is one of the best around.  He trains, he eats right, keeps his body conditioned, is fast on his feet, and uses his head to check out his opponents before their fights.  Armie has just signed with the SBC, a mixed martial arts association, and is on his way to bigger and better fights and more notoriety.  That doesn't bother Armie because he doesn't mind people watching him, and while he's not over confident, he knows his abilities.  The only thing that scares him is Merissa Colter, his best friend Cannon's sister.  Armie's mother left when he was young, and his father was a brutal drunk, so Armie spent most of his time with Cannon's family until he finally left home, and he hasn't seen his father since.  Three of Armie's best friends have recently gotten married, and while he's jealous of their happiness he'd never admit to it.  Armie is better known for his sexual antics and often twosomes or threesomes; but even they don't take away his thoughts of Merissa.  After a party when Cannon and his wife announce she's pregnant, Armie lets Merissa know he is definitely not good enough for her and she should look for someone else.  It's only when he is sitting at the bar with his friends that he realizes Merissa is avoiding all her friends because she might see him and decides to make things right.

Merissa, finally getting the message that Armie isn't interested, has stayed away from all her brother's friends. Then right before closing time at the bank where Merissa is the manager, Armie and two other customers come in.  When one of the men pushes her in her office and the other man draws a gun, Armie knows he's in the middle of a robbery.  Armie gets in a fight with the first robber, and when the second ones comes out of Merissa's office with a gun turned on her, Armie is determined nothing will happen to her.  After the robbers run away, Merissa can barely hold it together.  When Armie takes her to her apartment and they get together, Merissa knows in Armie's mind it is only a temporary thing, and it is only his desire for her that will keep him around for a short time.

Merissa's old boyfriend Steven can't believe she dropped him, and he's determined she will come crawling back to him, even if it takes some attempts on her life and a misguided robbery.   The only thing his plans succeed in doing is to finally get Armie to do something about his feelings for Merissa.  Unfortunately this isn't the way Steven wanted things to go, but he's determined to get Merissa back no matter what he has to do.

Lori Foster is continuing her Ultimate Series with FIGHTING DIRTY and with Armie, the best of the best MMA fighters.  Told from Armie's and Merissa's points of view, Armie drowns his memories with meaningless hookups, and all of his friends know that is the way he lives.  Merissa loves her brother Cannon, who is always looking out for her and reliable, but she must try to accept Armie will never feel about her like she wants.

Secondary characters are the other MMA fighters:  Leese, Miles, Brand, Denver and Cannon.  Also showing up from the Fighter Series are Havoc and Simon, heads of the SBC trying to guide Armie in his first fight and the accompanying PR work. Unfortunately, Merissa's old boyfriend Steven can't accept she is no longer interested in him and lives to regret his actions.

FIGHTING DIRTY continues with all the grit and fighting flavor Lori Foster is so good at.  Armie tries not to accept the fact that he is devoted to Merissa, and Merissa has loved him since he started coming to visit her brother when she was a teenager.  It takes danger to Merissa for Armie to finally acknowledge to himself and everyone else that Merissa is his, but its's a long road he has to take before he believes he deserves her in his life.

Carolyn Crisher