Hard Knocks: An Ultimate Novella - Lori Foster

Series: Ultimate (Book .5)

Power. Brute strength. Unforgettable moves. It's no wonder Harper Gates hasn't been able to get her fling with Gage "Savage" Ringer out of her head. Months have passed since she laid eyes—or any other body parts—on him. Months without a word of contact…until, sidelined by injury, he comes back to town.


Staying focused on his training seemed like a smart move to Gage, even if he thought about Harper every day. Seeing her again only makes it clear how much is at stake. He's got one night to earn back her trust. One night to show her that behind his breathtaking skill and ripped body is a man who'll give her everything she needs.


Good quick read to open the new Ultimate series. Before he left to train for the next level of fighting, Gage and Harper had been spending a lot of time together. Things were getting hot and heavy, but before they could take it to the next level, Gage was gone. It has been months since she has seen or heard from him, until he suddenly shows back up.


This was a lot of fun to read. Because it was so short, there isn't a lot of time to develop a conflict. We learn quickly that they got to know each other pretty well. Harper is at home at the gym and gets along well with all the guys. She understands the fight world and knows that Gage has had to concentrate on his training. That doesn't make it any easier for her to handle his absence. When an injury sends him back home, she's at a loss to decide what she wants. Stay away and protect her heart from being broken again? Or jump in and take what she can get?


Gage hadn't realized just how much he was going to miss Harper while he was gone. He concentrated on his training, but she'd creep into his thoughts whenever he'd let his guard down. Not being able to participate in his planned match frustrates him a lot, but not as much as being close to Harper without being able to be with her. He needs to find a way to show her just how much he needs her.


The chemistry between Gage and Harper is smoking hot, and burns bright between them. I loved the way that Harper knew him so well that she could tell he was upset about not being able to fight. It was fun to see that she didn't get all sweet and sympathetic but gave him a hard time instead. I loved her way of distracting him. I loved the way the other fighters could see how much Gage and Harper loved each other and tried to help. Gage's surprise at realizing just what his feelings were was great. It was sweet to see his determination to show her how he felt and how he couldn't wait to tell her. I loved seeing what happened when they finally talked to each other.


The story works well to introduce Gage's friends and fellow fighters. Each one gets a short appearance and the reader gets a sense of that fighter's personality. I loved seeing how they teased each other, but were also there to support each other. I also enjoyed seeing how these big bad fighters are also great with the kids at the gym and terrific role models for the teens. I'm really looking forward to each one's story and their battles with the forces of love.