You can’t fight love…
There’s only one thing MMA fighter Gunnar Wells is more devoted to than his career, and that’s his mother, “Queen” Elizabeth. An elegant African American woman who adopted Gunnar and his two white brothers, Elizabeth was there when they needed her, and they’ll do anything for her. For Gunnar, that means running her hair salon when she suddenly falls ill. And if that’s not awkward enough for the champion fighter, he’ll have to work alongside Eboni Danielson, the other love of his life. The one he left behind to pursue his dream. The one he’s never forgotten…
Between the salon and her volunteer work, Eboni keeps busy to keep her mind off the man who broke her heart. So when Gunnar shows up again, she does her best to stay cool—on the outside. But the more she watches Gunnar step up and help out, the less she can deny her feelings. Soon Gunnar is doing everything he can to convince Eboni to give him a fighting chance. Can she trust him again—even when old secrets and new dangers come between them once more?
Source: ARC from Lyrical Press (Kensington Books) via NetGalley
There are some really good points to this book – mostly Queen Elizabeth, who is awesome – and there are some lovely moments with the romance. It’s a second chance tale that goes along pretty much as expected and is enjoyable in many ways.
However, much though I tried to like them both – and I really did – I struggled with Gunnar and Eboni at times. Gunnar was confusing to me. He’s a champion MMA fighter who left town to train, stayed away for seven years, yet drops everything the moment his mother falls ill. Yes, he loves his mother, I get that – so why hasn’t he been home to see her once in all those years? Also, for a professional sportsman he’s really lax on any form of exercise. Then there are his manners. Nice as it is that he was raised to respect women, he’s also been raised to view them as delicate flowers who can’t open their own doors or hear bad words, and to be honest his cosseting behaviour is over-the-top smothering at times. If Eboni had taken issue with it, I wouldn’t have blamed her.
But she doesn’t. Nope, instead Eboni has many other things to take issue with. In fact she’s pretty childish when it comes to ignoring Gunnar’s good points, undermining him at the salon and constantly thinking the worst of him. Yes, he left, but she didn’t exactly try to stop him. In fact the pair of them created the mess of their break up and I don’t feel it was properly addressed here. She never says why she stayed, he never says why he left, they both just cling to their resentment until they suddenly decide it doesn’t matter anymore.
Which is another problem I have with this book. Major decisions are made, yet no thought process is actually shown. I’d have loved to have read what Gunnar’s thoughts really were about his career, or why he had to leave his home town or how it felt being back, but nope. (It would also have been nice to have known what the deal was with his younger brother.) Eboni is a bit better on this, but not by much. Mostly we get to read about her not wanting to be attracted to Gunner, while being attracted to Gunner. (I also developed a – probably irrational – hatred over the nickname Gunnie.)
So it’s not perfect. I don’t feel like I got to know either of the main characters as deeply as I would have liked, and their motivations and thoughts were sometimes missing, but away from them things are good. I loved the other workers at the salon – even temperamental Shay, who was at least funny amidst the snark – I liked what little we got to see of Gunnar’s middle brother too, and as already mentioned Queen Elizabeth is a great character. There are also some wonderful scenes – the little girl in the salon, the scene between Gunnar and Eboni in the bathroom – and underneath all the history and stubbornness the romance is sweet. It might not have enthralled me as much as I’d hoped, but it was still an enjoyable read. I’d be interested to read more about brother Gideon too.
The Look of Love is out June 23rd!
Visit Crystal B. Bright for more details.