Raw Deal by Cherrie Lynn (Larson Brothers #1)

Available: January 24, 2017 Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary romance

Publisher: Swerve

My copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Liz

Savannah’s brother was killed in a cage fight with Mike “Red Reaper” Larson after a savage punch to the head.

When Mike shows up at the funeral, he’s nothing like Savannah expected. Gone is the fierce, brutal beast she’s seen in the cage. In his place is a beautiful man torn with guilt, seeking forgiveness, and willing to do anything to ease her pain.

Her family doesn’t approve, but her heart doesn’t stand a chance. Irresistibly drawn together, neither of them can deny the intoxicating desire unleashed between them, turning their pain into the most exquisite pleasure.

But every time Mike steps into the cage, Savannah knows she could lose him too. She can’t go through that again, but how can she let go of the one man who sets her body and soul on fire?

Raw Deal by Cherrie Lynn was such an emotional read. I love MMA heroes, but this was more than just a MMA fighter to love. What do you do if the man occupying time in your head and heart is the same man that was in the cage fight that caused your brother’s death?

Savanah Dugas’ brother is dead. Her family is devastated. Her sister-in-law is barely surviving. And Savannah misses her brother something fierce. Everyone in her family blames Mike “Red Reaper” Larson for his death, though he was officially cleared of any wrong doing. The last thing she expected was seeing him at her brother’s funeral.

Mike is beside himself. Every time he enters the cage, it is with the intention to winning, but never intends to do life-altering damage. When a man he is fighting dies, he wants to do something for the family, but does not know what he can do. Apologizing and offering whatever he can to the sister and wife leaves him no better off than he was, until the sister reaches out.

Savannah loved her brother, but also understood the risks every time he entered a cage. She sees the broken man who is devastated with guilt over what happened. So, they begin to heal each other through a forbidden journey where the cost may be too high.

I loved Mike. He was a strong and passionate man that learned early on he could only count on himself to take care of his brothers. For him that meant using his fists to succeed. It allowed him success and to care for those that mattered most to him. But underneath the hardened exterior is a man that is caring, gentle and loyal.

After Tommy’s death, Savannah finds herself holding her family together, but especially her sister-in-law. But while her family sees a killer when they see Mike, she sees a man that is also grieving and looking for redemption. I loved her determination to give him a chance and see him for who he is, not wat he is portrayed. She was kindhearted and strong in her way as well.

As they talk to each other a few times, Mike offers to do something for her sister-in-law to help in her grief. Mike and Savannah spend time together and get to know each other. Their connection and attraction is strong. Can they fight it? Should they fight it? What about her family? Could she do this to her family? Would they ever accept Mike in her life? And above all, could she be with Mike when she could lose him as well?

This was such an emotional ride. A forbidden love story of two people who could not be more right for each other, but who had so many obstacles in their way. I found this story to be sweet and touching, heartbreaking at times and so hot and steamy. Which at the end leads to an amazing, hard to put down book. This was my first book from this author and I loved it. I cannot wait to read more in this series!

I give Raw Deal by Cherrie Lynn 4.5 stars!

Raw Deal Blog Tour: Author Q&A

How would you describe Raw Deal using no more than 140 characters (a la Twitter)?

Undeniable passion ignites between a fighter and the heartbroken sister of the man he accidentally killed in the MMA cage.

Which scene would you say was the hardest for you to write?

Definitely the final fight. Any time I write something action-heavy, which isn’t very often (unless it’s sex, haha), I find it terribly difficult and tedious. “This happened and that happened and so on.” And then to take it and make sure it doesn’t look like I found it difficult and tedious presents its own set of challenges. I can only hope I pulled it off, because I’m a terrible judge of my own work.

Where do you get inspiration for the names of your characters?

Michael’s and Savannah’s names simply came into my head and felt right. A lot of times, however, I torture myself trying to find the perfect character name, poring through baby name websites for inspiration. Some characters are named by accident. For instance, when I first introduced Brian Ross in Unleashed, I never planned for him to have his own book. So I just sort of stuck a name on him. But he turned out to be one of my most popular heroes (Rock Me), and same goes for his best friend Ghost (Leave Me Breathless). So, some come easily, some are like pulling teeth, and some are happy accidents. 🙂

You’re known for creating characters with a lot of depth and a full range of truly human emotions. What experiences do you draw on to make your characters feel so alive? 

Oh, so many. But I don’t think my experiences are so different from most other people’s. We’ve all been heartbroken. We’ve all felt loss. We’ve all felt joy. I just take those feelings and channel them as best as I can. I also listen when other people talk about their own feelings and experiences that might be different from mine, and I listen to a lot of highly emotional music. But there are things in my books that are drawn from personal experiences. The eagle in Raw Deal, for example, was taken from something similar that happened at my grandfather’s funeral a couple of years ago. I like to think whenever I see an eagle now, it’s my grandpa saying hello.

What do you love most about Mike and Savannah?

I love Mike’s fierce loyalty. I love Savannah’s mostly level-headed approach, the way she’s able to give him a chance despite her emotions and her heartbreak. I love the comfort they find in each other. They were very easy characters to write. I’m not sure if that’s because I was coming off my Ross Siblings series and invigorated by starting something brand new, or if they simply resonated deeply with me (a little of both, I suspect), but I *loved* writing their story. They still give me butterflies!

How much research did you have to do on MMA for the book? Are you a fan of the sport?

I am! But my husband is an even bigger fan. He was a great source of information, and I probably pestered him to death. I looked up so much equipment on Amazon that I kept getting ads for weeks—they obviously thought I was a fighter. I watched fights on YouTube and I read articles. And although they’re about boxing and not MMA, I’m a HUGE fan of the Rocky movies. I figured the passion, motivation, hunger and discipline would be the same for a fighter of either sport, so I drew a lot of inspiration from that. And yes, a couple of Rocky references pop up in the book! I couldn’t resist.

Did you always want to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember. As far back as third grade, you could find me writing stories that my teachers would have me read to my class. Everyone thought I was a little weird, I think. As I grew up, I wrote stories for fun and for my friends. Almost all of those involved a romance, and this trend continued as I would sneak into my mom’s stash of steamy romance novels for inspiration. 🙂 I sought publication as far back as 2000, but that didn’t work out. It wasn’t until 2008 that I tried again with what would become my first published book. It’s been an amazing, lifelong journey!

Who are some of your favorite writers/writers that inspire you?

I read all over the place. Right now, I’m loving Alessandra Torre. She’s amazing. I’m also so obsessed with the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I’ve been reading them on repeat for two years now. I finish, I start over. Such incredibly rich and effortless world-building. (Hurry up with Winds of Winter, George!) I’m also loving Sarah J. Maas. For my horror needs, I read Stephen King and Joe Hill. I must admit, the idea of a straight-up horror romance intrigues me…







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