"I was so excited to snag the opportunity to review 'Blow by Blow' by Kate Hill. The idea of a futuristic Earth where the States went through their second Civil War, over GLBTQ rights and freedoms, was fascinating. Then to add hunky men doing mixed martial arts fighting, one a bantamweight and the other a heavyweight, falling in love - I knew I'd be in heaven. I adored Theo immediately. How could I not? He might be little, and wear makeup and pink clothing, but he's a hell of a fighter. Not to mention he made the move back to the States to be closer to his mother who just had major surgery, and his sister who's caring for her, while Theo is their sole provider. I respect a man who takes care of his family. He's also got the confidence and attitude of a man twice his size, and he's not giving in to his desire for Valentin without getting a few dates at least. Theo isn't easy. *grins* Valentin grew up with a neglectful mother and an alcoholic, abusive father. Fighting began early for him, and he started hanging out at the local gym. He was lucky enough to be trained by an honorable man, and Valentin went on to be the undefeated heavyweight champion before retiring. He's come out of retirement in order to fight in the Radical Warrior Tournament. Now, if he can just make heads or tails out of Theo, he'll feel a whole lot better. I don't want to give the wrong impression here that this book is only about hot men, fighting, and sex, because there's more to it. It's been fifteen years since the end of the second Civil War, and even though the States reunited and everyone agreed that people should be allowed to be who they are, it's not always that simple. When Theo starts competing, and winning, with Master Jesse's team, and it gets out that he and Valentin are together, there's some backlash from the MMA community, and even a few members of his own team. The opinion seems to be that Theo shouldn't dress the way he does as it’s not appropriate for the fighting community. However, as far as Theo is concerned, his father died fighting a war to protect Theo's rights to be who he is, and he's not letting anyone tell him differently. “I still don’t get how we could win the war but the government that is supposed to be on our side still doesn’t back us up. Other than closing the damn rehabs, how much has really changed?” “Winning the war didn’t end prejudice,” Theo said. “We’re still living in precarious times. No one wants more fighting, so that means coping with lots of citizens whose beliefs don’t agree with ours.” I enjoyed this novel, very much. It is definitely more than I expected, which is always a bonus. The characters, main and secondary, were well written, complex but not too much so, and plain interesting. The love story between Valentin and Theo was believable and undeniably sexy. All in all, this is a great read that I can easily recommend.." -- Christy Duke, Rainbow Book Reviews
“I spilled an entire tray,” Theo said, raising his eyes to the heavens. Waiting tables wasn’t exactly the cake walk he’d expected.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Valentin said.
Theo turned to him, his gaze sweeping him from head to toe, and said, “I’m not so sure about that, Sunshine.”
Valentin’s expression turned stony. “Why do you keep calling me that?”
“Because just looking at you is enough to brighten anyone’s day.” The words left Theo’s mouth before he could stop them. That had always been one of his biggest problems. A thought popped into his head and he had to say it. He rarely considered the consequences.
“Ohhh.” Liz smiled and glanced at Valentin. “Now that’s a line I need to remember.”
Valentin glowered and finished his drink quickly.
“Should you be drinking while you’re training?” Theo asked. “We have a tournament coming up at the end of the month.”
“It’s water with lemon in it, not that it’s any of your business,” Valentin said, but his faint smile belied his rude tone.
“Just thinking about the team,” Theo said, deliberately using a flirty look. He removed his apron with the words Panoramic View embroidered across it in silver and embellished with a black skull.
“Nice belt.” Valentin nodded toward Theo’s waist. “Looks almost like a chain whip.”
Theo glanced toward Liz, who stood at the other end of the bar. He wasn’t sure how his new boss would feel if she knew the dual uses of his attire. He probably shouldn’t even admit this to Valentin, but he said softly, “It is. My father was an artist—a martial artist—and he made jewelry as a hobby. He liked finding ways of making weapons fashionable.” Theo gestured toward his belt.
“What else does he make?”
“He’s dead,” Theo said quietly. Though his father had been dead for years, thinking about his loss still hurt.
“I’m sorry,” Valentin said. “That belt must be pretty special to you.”
“It is.” Theo sighed. “I really need to catch the bus and get to sleep.”
“Not yet, but I’m working on it. I used a rental to drive here, but I returned it yesterday.”
“Want a ride?”
“Didn’t you just get here?”
Valentin shrugged. “I’m done with my drink and I’m in training, too. Ready to go?”
Narrowing his eyes, Theo considered the offer. Just sitting next to Valentin in a car, smelling his cologne, would be enough to make him horny all night. This guy would not be good for his training. Why did he have to join a team that had the most gorgeous man in the universe as its heavyweight champion?
“I’m ready. Just let me get my bag.”
“Right here.” Liz, who had approached, picked up his black bag from behind the counter and handed it to him.
Theo took it from her.
From the corner of his eye, he noticed a news headline on the widescreen TV above the bar.
“Hey, Liz,” said one of the waitresses, stepping behind the bar to turn up the volume. “The Spellman Hill Vigilante strikes again.”
Theo listened to a brief report about two guys who had been knocked unconscious by a helmeted figure while attempting to mug a woman on her way home from work the previous night.
“Spellman Hill Vigilante?” Theo asked.
“Yeah. Over the past year or so a guy in a black helmet has been on the streets stopping crime in and around Spellman Hill. He seems to focus on crimes against the gay community, but not always,” said the waitress. “A few of his victims claim he attacked them at random, but I’m not so sure. Cops don’t like him for obvious reasons, but I feel a little safer knowing he’s around.”
“I wish the news would stop sensationalizing this guy,” Liz said, shaking her head.
“Hey, in a way he’s a hero,” Valentin said.
Liz raised her eyes to heaven. “Just as long as he doesn’t try to be a ‘hero’ near my club. If you ask me he’s just a wacko.”
After saying good night, Theo and Valentin walked out of the club together. Valentin was more than a head taller than Theo, so even with his high-heeled black boots Theo needed to look up to him. He kind of liked it. Hell, he loved it.
Outside they climbed into Valentin’s sleek black sports car. It probably cost more than Theo had made fighting over the past couple of years. Still Valentin could probably afford it with little stress. He’d done well in his career and Theo had read several articles in sports magazines that mentioned Valentin’s wise business investments.
Smiling, Theo stretched his long legs and leaned back in the leather seat. “I could get used to this.”
“I know what you mean,” Valentin said under his breath. His blue gaze lingered on Theo’s legs and crotch.
“Are you flirting with me, Sunshine?”
“Why not? You’ve been doing it all day.”
“Oh wow. Where did these come from,” Theo said, squatting by the pot. He let go of his bags and reached for the attached florist’s card. He read it, smiled, rose, and slipped his arms around Valentin’s neck. “Thank you.”
Valentin hugged him back a bit awkwardly since grocery bags filled his hands. “Didn’t know what else to give you as a welcome gift.”
“I love blueberries.”
“Kinda figured when you ate half my supply during breakfast yesterday morning.”
Theo stepped back, his hands still cupping Valentin’s neck. “Are you saying I’m a blueberry hog? Don’t answer that. Come on.” Theo opened the door, picked up his grocery bags, and stepped inside, Valentin close behind him.
They were quite hungry, so after putting away Theo’s shopping, they sat down to lunch. When they finished, Theo did some quick housecleaning, not that he had much to do. The house was impeccable. Debra and her parents obviously took a lot of pride in their property. Valentin volunteered to help. While Valentin tidied up the lunch mess and opened the windows in the house to let in the fresh spring air, Theo cleaned the bathroom and unpacked his belongings.
“I know this hasn’t been much of a date so far,” Theo said.
He and Valentin stood in the bedroom where Theo was about to put the new sheets he’d bought on the bed.
“Fine with me,” Valentin said, helping Theo tuck in the fitted sheet. They both reached for the top sheet at the same time and Valentin closed his hand over Theo’s. He tugged Theo closer.
Even with the thick heels on his boots, Theo still had to tilt his face up to meet Valentin’s gaze. Valentin dipped his head toward Theo to cover his mouth with a kiss.
Closing his eyes, Theo surrendered. He pressed even closer to Valentin.
Valentin thrust his tongue into Theo’s mouth and Theo opened to him. Their tongues lashed and thrust. They explored each other with all the passion they’d felt since the moment they’d met.
When the kiss broke, they were both a little breathless.
“Let’s hurry up and get this bed made,” Theo said.
“No arguments here.”
While Theo put on the top sheet, Valentin tugged the cases onto the pillows. No sooner had he tossed the last pillow on the bed than Theo gasped his waist and stepped so close that their stiffening cocks pressed against each other. For the first time Theo initiated their kiss. He gently bit Valentin’s lower lip and sucked on it, making the bigger man groan.
Theo slid his tongue between Valentin’s lips and deepened the kiss. Valentin’s beard scraped Theo’s face, but he loved the sensation. Valentin grasped Theo’s ass. He squeezed and kneaded it and Theo’s cock stiffened even more.
Since meeting Valentin, he’d dreamed about this, but hadn’t wanted to move too fast. He didn’t need more complications in his life, but Valentin was irresistible.
Theo reached between them and rubbed a hand over the bulge in the front of Valentin’s jeans. Then he unzipped him. Valentin didn’t wear underpants, so his cock tumbled into Theo’s hand. It was thick, warm, and velvety. Theo squeezed and stroked it. He ran his thumb along the underside, and then he swept it over the bulging head.
“Oh, babe,” Valentin said in a rough whisper close to Theo’s ear. His warm breath teased him. Valentin swirled his tongue around the shell of Theo’s ear.
Theo’s cock ached and he moaned softly.
Valentin stepped back only to kick off his sneakers and tug off his jeans.
Theo pulled off his shirt and tossed it aside, baring his lean torso to Valentin.
Valentin’s blue gaze swept Theo’s chiseled chest and abs. The smoldering look in his eyes made Theo’s cock even harder. He pulled down his tights, turning so that when he bent to remove them, Valentin got a clear view of his bare ass.
Valentin grasped his ass and squeezed.
“Ah!” Theo laughed and jumped up.
Valentin caught him and held him close to his broad chest. He still wore his T-shirt and Theo longed to feel skin against skin.
“You have a gorgeous ass,” Valentin said, nuzzling Theo’s neck and caressing his bottom.
“Take your shirt off,” Theo said. He turned in Valentin’s arms and tugged up his shirt. Valentin stepped back slightly, pulled it off, and dropped it on the floor.
Moaning softly, he caressed Valentin’s chest with both hands. Valentin was so fucking huge and handsome.
Valentin picked Theo up over his shoulder, carried him to the bed, tossed him on it, and then he stretched out beside him. Leaning closer, he braced a hand on either side of Theo’s head and kissed him.
Gazing into Theo’s eyes, he asked, “What do you want?”
“You.” Theo grinned, locked his arms around Valentin’s neck, and brushed his nose against the bigger man’s.
“Yeah, but how? What do you like? I mean, I know I’d like your tight little ass.”
“I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that yet.”
Valentin narrowed his eyes. “I’ll tell you right now I’m no bottom.”
“I kinda had that feeling. All I mean is I’d like to explore a little before we—”
“Hey, whatever you want.” Valentin kissed him tenderly. “So what do you want?”