Hello, all! Thanks for joining me on my blog tour for Black Dog, the first book in my new Bannon’s Gym series. (Hot mixed martial arts fighters – rawwrrr!) I’m giving away a brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with my entire back list. Follow along at all my stops on this tour – and leave comments on each. Every comment counts as another chance to win! I’ll announce the winner on my blog on Friday, August 30th.
If you’ve ever actually seen a mixed martial arts bout, you know it’s as if the gods created a sport just for admirers of m/m fiction. Here’s an excerpt where the heat between my two protagonists gets ramped up to eleven . . .
I put on my jacket and walked down to the gym, shivering at the sight of so many darkened storefronts. This part of town used to be loud and lively in the evenings, until Dave’s Lounge and the Hi-De-Ho closed down. Now everybody rolled up the sidewalks at nine.
Even the gym looked quiet. The only cars in the parking lot were Danny’s ’72 Riviera and a green Volkswagen bug I hadn’t seen before. I swiped my card and went in.
“Don’t pull your arms in so tight. You’re just asking to get pinned. Yeah, that’s the way.” Danny’s voice carried down the hall. I crept up to the doorway and hovered there, watching Danny coach Tom and another guy, both grappling on the mat. Tom was on the bottom but battling furiously, kicking and pushing. “Get your knee between his legs. Shift your hips for leverage.”
Then came one of the most neatly-executed sweeps I’d ever seen, with Tom flipping his opponent over and wedging his forearm against the other guy’s throat. His opponent tapped the mat and Tom promptly rolled off.
“Great job, kid.” Danny gave Tom a hand up. “See? I said you could do it.” He slapped the other guy on the back. “Thanks, Travis, I owe you one. Go hit the showers, both of you.”
Tom turned around, his wide blue gaze zeroing in on me. “What’re you doing here?” he said, combing a handful of sweaty hair off his forehead.
“Just wanted to see what you were up to.” My smile couldn’t have felt any more fake if I’d drawn it on with a black marker. “That was pretty good for only a couple lessons.”
“He’s a quick learner.” Danny laid his hand on the kid’s shoulder. “Go on,” he said to Tom. “I still have to clean up in here.”
I watched him amble down the hall and waited for him to disappear into the locker room before I opened my mouth again. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Danny froze in the middle of snagging a spray bottle of bleach off the supply rack. “Pardon me?”
“Why’re you training him to fight?”
“I wasn’t aware I needed your fucking permission.” He grabbed some paper towels, sank to his knees and started wiping down the mats. “For the record, he came to me, and a good thing he did. Have you seen those scars on his back?”
My hands curled into fists. “How the hell did you see them?”
“This is a martial arts gym. Guys roll around on the floor. Their shirts hike up.” His green eyes met mine, and he snorted. “Don’t give me that look. I’m not the one who was studying to be a priest.”
In other words—go ahead, deck me. I dare you. “Leave him alone. He doesn’t need to get in any more fights.”
“I’m teaching him to defend himself. There’s no law against that.”
“Great. Then you can take the blame when someone sends him to the hospital.”
Danny snorted. “Remember all those times I showed up at school with fresh bruises on my face? And none of the teachers did a fucking thing about it?”
I remembered, with that same empty ache inside I used to get twenty years ago, witnessing the scared look on Danny and Jimmy’s faces whenever their dad picked them up at my house. The same look I’d seen on Tom’s face. “You think his old man’s been abusing him?”
“What do you think?” He put the cleaning supplies away, then pivoted to face me. “You should help coach him. You were always a better boxer than me.”
“Teaching him to beat up other people won’t help him get over being beaten.”
“Maybe not, but it’ll make him feel safer.” He came closer, close enough to see the sweat sheening his face and throat down to the V of his blue fighting kimono. The strong, musky smell drifted toward me, making the crotch of my jeans grow tight. “What’s the matter? Don’t think you can handle it?”
I blinked, trying to swallow around the cotton in my mouth. “You threw me out of your house last time, and now you want me to—”
“Can’t hold a guy responsible for what he says when he’s shit-faced.”
“I’ve heard that one before.” More times than I could count, in fact. How many empty apologies did he expect me to swallow?
“You don’t want to believe me? Fine.” He turned and looked like he was about to walk away, but instead he drew back and threw a right cross. My hand came up out of pure instinct, his fist smacking my palm. “Looks like Eddie the Surgeon’s still got it.”
Heat flooded my face. “Fuck you.”
His other fist flew at me. I ducked, countered with my own punch, dancing back on the balls of my feet. Danny just grinned and kept on punching and jabbing, keeping me on the defensive.
At last I swung out and caught him on the jaw, a hot bullet of pain shooting up my arm. Danny skittered back and landed on his ass. “Enough,” I said. “I’m sick of your stupid ga—”
And I hit the mat with a tooth-rattling thud. He’d played his signature move, cutting my legs right out from under me. I had a split second to catch my breath before he pinned me to the mat.
“Had enough?” he asked.
“Let me go.”
“Break my hold first.” His face hovered a few inches above mine. Close enough to feel the hot puff of his breath and get a good look at where I’d smacked him. A red mark on the left side of his jaw was already darkening at the edges. I got a perverse thrill out of knowing he’d be seeing worse in the mirror tomorrow.
I squirmed and pushed, for all the good it did. Jiu-jitsu was like a chess game, and I hadn’t played in years. Danny countered expertly, as if he knew where I’d try to block him next before I even moved. Well, of course he did. Everything I tried, he’d taught me.
“Ready to tap out yet?” he asked, a smirk starting to slide across his lips, until the muscles in his jaw tightened, and he winced.
I huffed out a laugh and started kicking and throwing elbows, hoping sheer force would help me worm past his defenses. No dice. Danny had quick reflexes and twenty pounds on me. No way was I getting up unless he let me.
He had both my arms pinned, every muscle in my body from waist to shoulder taut and screaming. I still had enough range of movement in my right hand to tap my knuckles on the mat, but—shit, even that hurt.
Danny’s grip loosened, but he didn’t let go. He looked down at me with a spark of something both dangerous and gentle in those clear green eyes, shifting his hips until his hard cock pressed against mine. Then he leaned in and kissed me.
Title: Black Dog by Cat Grant
Bannon’s Gym Series Book One
Publisher: Cat Grant Books
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Romance
Length: 117 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author
Danny Bannon and Eddie Roscoe have been fighting in and out of the ring for more than fifteen years, held together by mutual attraction and small-town ties, yet kept apart by a shared tragedy that continues to haunt them. Their steady on-again off-again is shaken up by the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway trying to escape his tense home situation and his punch-happy dad.
In no time, the scrawny homeless kid has shown himself to be a boxing prodigy, and building him up brings Danny and Eddie closer than they’ve been in ages. It seems that the three of them, plus Eddie’s mother, Gloria, are forming a new family unit, much tighter than anything Tom experienced in his difficult past.
But Tom’s politically influential father isn’t the only person he left behind. When his mother shows up at Eddie and Gloria’s diner with a shiner and a haunted look in her eyes, Tom is hopeful for her future. But when that hope is snuffed out, Tom is ready to turn his new fighting skills to a deadly purpose: get revenge on his abusive father or die trying.
It’s up to his surrogate big brothers, Danny and Eddie, to put their differences and their painful history aside to prevent another tragic ending.
Loved, loved, loved Black Dog and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book!! It is a wonderful beginning to Cat Grant’s newest series, Bannon’s Gym. This engaging story is a quick read starring über sexy men who share a very complicated past.
Danny Bannon and Eddie Roscoe are childhood friends and on again/off again lovers. Eddie works as a cook at the family diner but he has a very intriguing past. His career choices are quite diverse and I am dying to know how his life took such divergent paths. The one thing that has remained constant is Eddie’s desire to help those in need and he is quick to offer assistance to Tom Delaney. The other constant in Eddie’s life is his guilt over a long ago accident. This life altering event continues to be the source of friction between him and Eddie.
Danny has never left his hometown and in fact, he still lives in his childhood home. He owns Bannon’s Gym where he trains MMA fighters, boxers, etc. Danny knows how to push Eddie’s buttons and when we first meet him, he doesn’t hold back from giving Eddie a difficult time. It is not until Tom becomes a regular at the gym that the situation between Danny and Eddie finally begins to improve.
Tom has finally worked up the courage to escape his abusive home and while he is initially wary of Eddie’s intentions, he soon settles into his new life. Danny quickly recognizes his skills in the ring and enlists Eddie’s aid in coaching him. Tom is slowly coming to terms with his past, but he suffers a setback after a family tragedy.
Tom is the catalyst that brings Danny and Eddie back together. There is no shortage of tension (sexual and unresolved issues) between them, but they are able to set aside their antagonism as they coach Tom. While Danny and Eddie are not officially a couple for much of the story, they do work on their individual problems and by the end of Black Dog, the relationship is on much firmer ground.
There are two completely unrelated topics that I just have to mention. First of all, I love the meaning behind the book’s title and I am hoping the other side of the story will be explored in the next book in the series. The other thing that really stood out is how Cat Grant does such a wonderful job educating readers about the MMA without overwhelming us with too much detail. I only had cursory knowledge about the MMA but I had NO trouble following this part of the storyline.
The ending of Black Dog is more of a beginning and I am very impatient for the continuation of the Bannon’s Gym series. Tantalizing glimpses of Eddie’s past have piqued my curiosity and I am dying to learn more about him. I am also hoping that Cat Grant plans to follow Tom’s burgeoning career in future books as well.
Final verdict-a GREAT story that fans of male/male contemporary romances do not want to miss!
Author BioCat Grant lives by the sea in beautiful Monterey, California with one persnickety feline and way too many books and DVDs. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her watching movies or TV (Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries are among her favorite shows), singing along to whatever’s on her iPod, or fantasizing about kinky sex with Michael Fassbender.
Here’re Cat’s various hideouts on the Internet:
Leave a comment on today’s post to enter Ms. Grant’s contest for a brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with her entire back list. Winner will be announced August 30th on Ms. Grant’s blog.