In this corner is admittedly romantic Jenna Wilinski, who’s inherited a rather seedy boxing gym from her estranged father. With it, she can realize her dream of launching an upscale matchmaking business…provided she can take on the very intimidating-and wickedly hot-boxer who stands in her way!
In the far corner is former pro boxer Mercer Rowley. He’s the only one who can protect his “home”-even if it is a little run down-from his determined and feisty little opponent. But man, once the gloves come off, his hands just want to touch her everywhere…
This matchup is too close to call. But no matter which contender comes out on top, the other is sure to enjoy every minute of it….
For a while when I was reading Making Him Sweat, all I could think of was that late 1980s “classic”, Opposites Attract. Because, boy, on the surface, Jenna and Mercer were total opposites.
Jenna’s looking to move on from the oft-soured and scandal-filled memories of her late father, and build a new life and a new business for herself. If that means closing the gym that he left her so she can use the building for her new matchmaking service, so be it.
Mercer, the manager, was brought back from the brink of stupidity by Jenna’s father as a teenager, and he doesn’t want to see this place that means so much to him and those he trains to be simply swept aside. He wants to repair the image of the gym, not watch it disappear.
I also really liked that Jenna didn’t come in straight away, and go at the gym with a shillelagh – looking to all and sundry like an evil overlord. You could sense her struggle to balance her desire for the new business and the legacy of the gym she was left by the father she never really knew.
Watching Jenna and Mercer dance around their increasing attraction to one another while dealing with their disparate goals and plans for the gym was kind of fun to see. I liked that it wasn’t all drama, drama, drama and “I hate you, I love you, I hate you…” – there was a lot of humour in this book.
The relationship between the two was pretty hot. There were no declarations of instant undying devotion, in fact far from it. One of my favourite scenes between the two is when they are on the verge of getting together the first time:
He broke away, taking a step back. The look in his eyes was wild and his tongue traced the corner of his lips. He began unwinding the tape from his hands, exciting as a striptease. Jenna held her breath as he spoke.
“I’m gonna take a shower. That gives you ten minutes to change your mind about where this is heading. If you come to your senses, shut your bedroom door. If you are as stupid as me, leave it open, and we’ll find out what the hell else is supposed to happen between us.”
You can just feel the heat there, and you just know no one is going to be sensible. Jenna, I wouldn’t blame you with someone like Mercer on offer. I’m not generally a fan of the busted-faced boxer look, but if Mercer was asking, I don’t reckon I’d need much convincing.
The supporting characters were fantastic and had some real humour about them too. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ms Maguire does with Rich and Lindsay in the next book.
As I would expect in my Harlequin Blaze, this was a well-crafted romance with a good amount of sexy thrown in.
My rating: 4 out of 5
Release Date: 19 February 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Harlequin via NetGalley in return for an honest review.