He's the hottest MMA fighter in the game, but one woman is ready to try out a few steamy moves of her own in an unforgettable new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster
With the life he's led and the muscles he's gained, Armie Jacobson isn't afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter's effect on him. It's not just that she's his best friend's little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that's all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life.
Good girl meets bad boy. It's a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they're both about to learn what's truly worth fighting for
About the Author
Lori Foster is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author with books from a variety of publishers, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martin's, Harlequin and Silhouette. Lori has been a recipient of the prestigious RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy, and for Contemporary Romance. For more about Lori, visit her Web site at www.lorifoster.com.
Read an Excerpt
"Jesus, Quick. You're a freak of nature. You know that, right?"
Armie Jacobson, known as Quick to his fighter friends, ignored the complaint and threw a few more jabs, then a solid body shot, making Justice, a six-foot-five heavyweight, double over. Stepping back, Armie flexed his hands, bounced on the balls of his feet and waited.
Unfortunately, Justice only put his hands on his knees and sucked air.
Frowning, Armie removed his mouthpiece. "Seriously? Come on, dude. Let's go."
"Screw you." Schlepping back to his corner, Justice grabbed up a water bottle. He doused his head and chest and then started chugging.
Aware of others watching, Armie said nothing. Everyone worked out, trained and sparred in the rec center, but lately, whenever he did, a dozen or more people stopped to watch. He didn't mind an audience. Hell, he couldn't be a competitor if he did. For the most part he paid no attention. Once he got in the cage, he went into a zone and the world receded.
But this insane ogling shit, as if he was a damned sideshow, bugged him big-time.
A trickle of sweat tracked down his temple from his headgear, and he swiped a forearm over his face. His muscles burned and more sweat soaked his chest, abs and rolled down his spine. He was figuring out what to say to Justice to get him back in action when he picked up her scent. The faint perfume cut through the rec center air, thick with the smells of sweaty men working hard.
Trying to look casual, Armie stared at Justice but in his peripheral vision he saw her striding across the room. No mistaking that long-legged gait, or that longer dark hair. He swallowed, frozen.
"What?" Justice asked, sounding both suspicious and ridiculously alarmed with the way Armie had locked onto him.
Armie shook his headand thankfully Merissa disappeared into the hallway leading to the offices.
Releasing a breath, he looked toward the clock and frowned. Yeah, they'd been at it for a while, maybe longer than he'd intended. His cardio was better than most, definitely better than Justice's, the big lug.
Armie walked over to him. "You need to get more gas in the tank."
"Go fuck yourself."
When Armie grinned, Justice eyed him warily. "Stop it."
That switched his grin to a frown. "Bitchy much?"
Justice slouched against the wall and glared back. "You shouldn't be able to grin, you prick. You should be as tired as me."
A natural trainer, Armie took pity on him. "You're a lot bigger." As a six-foot-tall middleweight, Armie stood five inches shorter and weighed a lot less than Justice.
"Lotta good it does me."
Squatting down in front of him, Armie said low, "People are watching, so stop whining."
Justice's gaze slipped past him and he groaned.
"Yeah, the big dogs are here again." Damned nosy bastards. Ever since he'd signed with the SBC, the powers-that-be had been scoping him out like their newest lab rat. "Stand up, go another two minutes with me, then we'll call it quits."
Huffing out a breath, Justice lumbered to his feet. "Freak of nature," he muttered again, but he followed Armie out to the center of the ring, and he did his best.
His best was nowhere near good enough against Armie.
But then, they fought for very different reasons.
Twenty minutes later, fresh from the showers, Armie was ready to head out. The mid-February weather left frost on every surface, so he tugged on a stocking hat over his still-wet hair and pulled a thick hooded sweatshirt on over his clothes. Carrying his gym bag, he entered the main area cautiously. This late in the day, the mats were now cleared. Miles and Brand took their turn mopping with sanitizer. Many of the lights were turned down and only the core group of friends remained, clustered together in conversation.
The SBC heads were gone, and better still, he didn't see Merissa anywhere. She'd probably just been dropping off paperwork for her brother, Cannon, who owned the rec center.
Relieved, Armie started for the door. With any luck, he'd manage it before someone stopped him
Damn. After a slight hesitation, he turned to where Denver, Stack and Cannon all stood together. "What's this? The three Married Musketeers?"
Stack, who'd only married a month ago, reeked of satisfaction. "Aw, he's jealous."
Yup. But since he'd die before admitting it, Armie said, "Nope."
Denver, still a newlywed himself, grinned. "Probably lonely, too, poor guy."
Very. Groupies, orgies and random one-night stands could only take a guy so far. He had a rep for sexual excess, and that's what the ladies wanted from him. That, and nothing more.
Checking the time, Armie said, "I could be lonely with three very nice ladies if you yahoos would let me leave."
Unlike the others, Cannon didn't laugh. "Seriously?
Why the hell did his best friend have to sound so disapproving? And if he knew why Armie had made those plans, he'd probably be pissed as well as disapproving, because it was thoughts of Cannon's little sis that he worked so hard to obliterate. Not that a foursome would accomplish much beyond taking the edge off. His obsession with Merissa seemed to amplify by the day.
Copping an attitude, Armie shrugged. "Yeah, really. Unless you have something" or someone "better for me to do?"
"As a matter of fact, that's why I wanted to talk to you."
Well hell. He hadn't figured on that. Armie ran a hand over his hair. "Then let's hear it."
"Yvette wanted everyone to come over tonight to hang out and visit."
Armie adored Yvette. She was perfect for Cannon and a real sweetheart. But damn "Who all will be there?"
With a very knowing smile, Cannon said, "Everyone important to us. So don't miss it."
Double damn. Merissa definitely counted as important.
Armie didn't want to, but with all the guys eyeballing him, how could he refuse? "What time?"
Armie scowled. "What do you mean, now?"
"Now, as in you don't have time to do anything else, so forget it."
Justice came dragging out, his faux-hawk hair still wet, his goatee in need of a trim, and his cauliflower ears worse than ever. He shoulder-bumped Armie as he passed. "If you hadn't been determined to cripple me, maybe you'd have had more time for playing."
"Wuss," Armie accused with a grin.
"He has a point," Brand said as he pushed a mop bucket toward them.
Miles, giving one last swipe of the mat, followed him. "Keep pushing that hard and you're liable to hurt something before the competition."
"I still have two months." Two months of freedom and he'd spend it however he wanted. Sure, Armie knew there were established training methods, but they weren't for him. Never had been, never would beno matter who he fought for.
"This isn't local fighting anymore," Denver reminded him.
As if he'd forget.
"Carter Fletcher isn't a slouch," Miles added. "You might not walk through him like you do the local guys."
"They call him Chaos for a reason." Brand frowned. "I've seen him fight and he's unpredictable."
Yeah, so his first opponent was supposed to be a stud. Big deal. Armie shrugged to show he didn't really care. Not that long ago the SBC, the most widely known MMA organization, had run him to ground and all but coerced him into signing on with them. Cannon had helped with that, pushing him to take the next step since he'd already demolished all the records in local venues.
It was a big step, too, something all the other guys had worked for. The SBC paid a lot more and offered incredible name recognition. Their fighters traveled the world to compete.
But Armie liked being low-key; it was a hell of a lot safer for multiple reasons. If it wasn't for Cannon
"He'll do fine against Carter," Cannon said. "And don't worry about his training. Armie motivates differently, that's all."
Always, no matter what, Cannon had his back. As the only other person to know why he'd avoided fame and fortune, Cannon understood. They weren't related, but they were brothers all the same.
Which was the second biggest reason he couldn't, shouldn't, crave Merissa the way he did. Cannon protected those he loved.
And he loved his sister a lot.
"It's getting late," Cannon added. "Don't want to keep Yvette waiting."
Glad for the switch in topic, Armie pulled out his phone. "Guess I better make some calls and let the ladies know I won't make it after all."
Stack looked at Denver. "If it was anyone but Armie, I'd think he was making it up."
"Lonely," Denver confirmed. Armie walked away knowing they were right.
Merissa Colter leaned against the counter in the kitchen, sipping a wine cooler and watching as Yvette prepared a platter of lunch meat and cheeses. "You sure you don't want my help?"
Yvette flashed her a happy smile. "There's not that much to do. Besides, you're dressed so cute tonight, I don't want to risk you getting messy."
Looking down at herself, Merissa said, "I just felt like a change, you know?"
Smile sly, Yvette nodded, then wiped her hands on the apron she wore. "It's nice for a lady to switch things up every now and then. And with your long legs, that's a good look for you."
"Vanity shopped with me." Vanity was Yvette's best friend, now Stack's wife, and a regular fashion plate without trying. "She insisted on the boots."
"With heels," Yvette enthused, since Merissa almost always wore flats. "I approve."
"It's just that I'm so blasted tall"
"Like a model."
"I don't know." More often than not, she felt gangly, not model-worthy.
"Trust me," Yvette said as she laid out the last pieces of cheese on her lunch-meat display. "You'd be terrific. Everything you wear looks amazing on you. You're slim but still shapely."
Merissa choked over that. "I'm barely in a B cup. Nothing shapely about that."
From the kitchen doorway came a sound and Merissa looked up to see Brand, Miles and Leese all standing there grinning at her. They were all three gorgeous, all three buff, all three talented.
But none of them were Armie.
How she felt about them, and vice versa, wasn't anything close to romantic. But still, heat rushed into her face. After all, they'd just heard her discussing her boobs.
Looking around for a weapon, Merissa grabbed up the dishcloth and threw it at them. "Pretend you didn't hear that!"
"Too late." Leese caught the towel, then carried it over to the sink. "Whatever you think you're missing, let me tell you, it's all there." He looked back at the other two fighters. "Am I right?"
Humiliated, but appreciating their input, Merissa laughed. "You guys are my friends. You have to say that."
Crossing his heart, Leese insisted, "Honest truth." He snagged three beers from the fridge, then tossed one to Brand and the other to Miles.
With his sinfully dark gaze moving over her, Brand stepped farther into the kitchen. "And that getup?" He cocked a brow. "Smokin' hot."
She suddenly felt very conspicuous in her V-necked tunic sweater, tights and ankle boots.
"There, you see?" Yvette said. "You're gorgeous. Who cares if you're not top-heavy?"
"It's the whole package," Miles insisted. He and Brand both had dark hair, but Miles's eyes were bright green, his smile crooked, and he flirted with every woman alive. "Trust me."
Leese ran a hand over his inky-black hair, his pale blue eyes playful. "I'm an ass man, myself." He winked, letting her know she fit the bill.
It was a wonder she could think at all when surrounded by so many certified hunks. Maybe if she felt about one of them the way she felt about Armie, her life would be easier.
Yvette started forcing them all from the kitchen. "Stop embarrassing her."
"We were reassuring her," Brand protested.
The guys dragged their feet, making Yvette work at getting them clear of the door. After they'd gone, Yvette's smile lingered and her eyes were warm with happiness.
Merissa knew something was going on. Both her brother and Yvette glowed. Setting aside her wine cooler, she asked, "So, what's up with you and Cannon?"
Humming, Yvette got down a bowl and filled it with chips. "I don't know what you mean."
Just then Armie stuck his head in the kitchen. "Hey, Yvette " His voice trailed off when he spotted Merissa.
Expression arrested, Armie's attention crawled down her body, taking in every detail. His chest expanded on a slow breath. Merissa didn't move. Seeing him had an entirely different effect on her than she'd had with the other men. Just about everyone had commented on her new duds. But this was Armie. She didn't want his opinion to matteryet it did.
Belatedly, his gaze came back up to her face and locked with hers. His jaw flexed. His dark eyes consumed her and just when she thought she'd pass out from lack of oxygen, he started to turn away.
Clearly Armie hadn't expected to see her and hadn't wanted to see her. It hurt.
Yvette stopped him. "Armie! Come on in. What would you like to drink?"
With his back to them, he stalled. Muscles shifted in his shoulders, his upper armsthen he very deliberately relaxed and faced them again. The heat in his eyes had cooled to indifference and his cocky smile almost made her believe she'd imagined the tension.
Merissa snorted. She didn't mean to. It just came out.
His dark sinner's gaze zeroed back in on her. "Something funny, Stretch?"
God, how she hated that nickname! It emphasized her height, but worse, it proved that Armie didn't see her as a desirable woman. "You? Being good?" She snorted again. "I hope I'm not standing close when lightning strikes you."
Stepping the rest of the way into the kitchen, he said to Yvette, "I'll take a beer."
"Sure." Yvette poured an unsweetened tea. She handed it to Armie, kissed his cheek, then picked up the platter and carried it to the dining room.
Nonplussed, Armie looked at the glass.
Merissa looked at Armie.
Until recently he'd kept his hair bleached almost white, but lately he'd left it alone and now it was back to a more natural dark blond. Still a little spiky, but not such a dramatic contrast to his chocolate-brown eyes.
Tattoos lined his forearms, and though she couldn't see it right now, not with him wearing a shirt, she knew he had another, more understated tat between his shoulder blades.
Faded jeans sat low on his lean hips, hanging a little long over running shoes. Boldly displayed across the front of his snug-fitting black T-shirt were the words FREE ORGASMS.
Merissa cleared her throat. "Don't like tea?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We've been teased with these 2 through out the series & FINALLY they get their own story. Armie & Merissa have been dancing around one another for years & finally get together. I loved how Mrs. Foster brought everything together & we got to see what's made Armie so skeptical to go big time with the SBC. I felt like we got answers to all the evil Armie had to endure. I don't want to spoil it for anyone but this is a GREAT read!!!!! My only complaint????.........that the book was longer because I didn't want it to end. If you haven't read the series you're really missing out. I've had the pleasure of reading her work for the past several years & she never fails to deliver. I'd give it 10 stars if I could. Looking forward to her next book!!!!!
Skimmed book. Was disappointed. Same theme. Wish lori would write like her earlier books. You know what is going to happen before u turn the page not a good read
Highly recommend waited for this one to come out and it did not disappoint can't wait for the next series Body Armor
Finally happily ever after for Armie! Love his humor, loyalty, and determination. Rissy is a force to be reckoned with throughout the book. Bravo Lori Foster, you do not disappoint !
Love this book! I was beyond excited when I found out Armie and Marissa's story was finally here. A classic good girl meets bad boy story that turned out oh so well. Meet Sexy bad boy Armie whom all the girls talk about, and Marissa, Cannons little sister, who has been trying to catch him for years. Their attraction finally hits a boiling point when Marissa is threatened during a bank robbery, and its up to Armie to save the day. To add to the growing pot of complications, an event from Armies past threatens to not only break this fighters career but also separate the lovers. Marissa is about to show Armie that he is more than he thinks, and prove to herself just how strong she is. Throw in all our scrumptious fighters from lori's more current stories and some from her beginning fighters, we have a story we do not want to put down, I know I couldn't. Are you looking for a book with laughs, tension, sex, actions as well as both functional and disfuntional family and friends, This is a MUST read.
I can’t believe its over! I am so sad that the Ultimate series has come to an end, but I am so happy how it ended. I. Can. Not. WAIT. Until I can read the Body Armor series and get updates. Lori Foster, as always, has taken me away into her world so seamlessly that I nearly cry when I have to stop reading and do real life things like sleep. Fighting Dirty was the book that I was most looking forward to. I was literally arguing with myself not to skip through major sections of book 2 and 3, which I absolutely LOVED by the way, in order to get to Armie and Rissy’s story faster. I held out and read them all the way through with a smile on my face. I’m honestly surprised I was able to read this book all in one day due to the fact that its nearly impossible to keep my eyes open when I am squealing. Read this book. Read this series! Don’t skip, no matter how much you want to, it will be worth the suspense. I truly hope you enjoy Armie and Rissy’s story as much as I did. Body Armor series, here I come. Happy Reading!
Loved the MMA story and the mixed in love and outside problems. I could not put it down. A great exciting story..
Liked the story but I have read similar books with the same storyline
I absolutely loved Armie and Rissy's story! I have read them all and they were all well worth the wait. This is one l could not put down. The love and family atmosphere of the fighters and their friends was like coming home. I have read many of Lori Foster's books and the Ultimate series is the best in my opinion. As with all of the books in the series, each of the friends and family members were a vital part of the story. In "Fighting Dirty", Armie and Rissy were front and center. Very hot romance, suspense, violence, family, friends, and laughter, this one had it all. Armie has been my favorite from the beginning of the series. One of the best parts in "Fighting Dirty", was Rissy with her permanent marker. That was a hoot! I am so happy that Lori will be writing the "Body Armor" series soon for the up and coming fighters such as Leese, Justice, Brand and Miles from this series. "Fighting Dirty" is a stand alone with HEA, so I highly recommend this one for a great read....5 Stars!
Armie and Merissa were worth waiting for. Lori Foster has made me want my owm MMA fighter. Perfect ending to the series. Sorry to see it end, but a spinoff is coming.
Lori Foster never ceases to amaze me. I couldn't put it down, great addition to the series!
LOVED Armie's story! This one was even better than I had hoped for. The love, the truth, the REAL Armie. He is truly as good a guy as Rissy always thought he was. You will completely fall in love with another SBC fighting hunk. I counted on this being good, but it was excellent! You get so much insight as to what has made Armie the man he is. Some of it we know, from reading the other stories, but there is so much more to learn. There are tense and intense parts in this one, both in and out of the ring and his love life. I am excited about the future of these characters, as I look forward to more from Lori. ARC provided in exchange for honest review.
My goodness! I feel like I have been waiting on Armie and Merissa’s story forever and it was totally worth it! Perfect. Perfection is just what I expected from Lori Foster, Armie and Merissa and it was exactly what I received. I think my favorite part of the book was Armie’s vulnerability. It was his vulnerability that kept him away from Merissa for so long instead of his desire to continue on with the life of a playboy. In this he reminded me of a dog that really wants affection but is afraid of being rejected. This part of him that we got to explore made me like him more as a character and caused me to think of him in a multidimensional way (I know he is a book character but we can all just pretend otherwise, right?). Previously we have seen Armie as the know-it-all playboy who does his best to keep his distance from and now we get to find out what he went through in his past. Lori doesn’t wait too long to get right to the romance and the action in her book. Within the first two chapters we catch up with Armie and Merissa regarding the kiss in the hallway of Rowdy’s bar and fall right into the mystery of a suspicious bank robbery. I enjoyed how both Merissa and Armie’s past came to a head to allow them to overcome an obstacle together. While Armie certainly had issues to push past from his past, I enjoyed that it was Merissa’s past that brought out the skeletons from the closet and into the limelight In short, go out and get this book when it comes out on February 23, 2016. You will not be disappointed. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
Ok people,,,,you all know the drill by now,,,,get this new Lori Foster book & just be resigned to having tbe best book hangover as usual !!!!!:):):) Traci W!!
Like everyone else who has read this series, I was anxiously awaiting this book dedicated to the story of Armie and Merissa. As we have read the series we have gotten to know both Armie and Merissa. Armie is the bad boy that you can't help but love, while Merissa is the good girl that he believes deserves better than him, besides the fact that she is his best friends little sister. Armie is a complex character. He is the bad boy, is brutally honest, but also has a soft, giving heart and would do anything to protect those in his life. We learn the background of why he is acts the way he does and why he believes he is not worthy of Merissa. Merissa is a strong, independent and sensible woman. I enjoyed getting to know her better and how she handles situations. And I loved that she finally took the initiative where Armie was concerned. We have gotten brief glimpses of the chemistry between Merissa and Armie through out the series, but once they actually get together the chemistry is hot, sizzling and steamy. Lori does a fantastic job developing the characters and their relationship. It felt natural and real. The story moves along at a good pace and keeps you interested. And as always there are some scenes that will make you laugh out loud. While you know who is behind the mystery of the story, there are some things you don't see coming. All the characters are present in the book and I enjoyed catching up with them. Cannon has more of a role in this book and is great as the big bother and the best friend. He wants what is best for both Armie and Merissa, and he believes that is each other. Lori does not fail to deliver with this highly anticipated book. If you've read the Ultimate Series, this is a MUST read. If you haven't then what are you waiting for?? Start reading now. I received an ARC (advanced readers copy) of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I have to admit I stopped reading this book when I was half way through. I was worried it was going a direction that I didn't want it to. A few days later I picked it back up and I was very surprised and glad that I started back up again. It was fun, sexy and played out well. I was really happy I finished it.
The wait was definitely worth it for Armie's story. Lori Foster has created a fantastic story of MMA fighters and the women who love them. Armie tries to stay a loner because of his tragic past but he can't quite hide his feelings for Rissy. Merissa has been in love with Armie forever and now that she is in danger, Armie is the one who protects her. As they spend time together, they realize that everyone already knows what a perfect couple they are.
Ive been waiting to find out the dirt on Armie this whole time and Im so happy he got his happily ever after!
Finally ... it's here. I have been waiting for Armie's story to come out. Lori Foster does an amazing job with the story line. It's about time Armie finally comes to his senses and realizes that Merissa is the one for him. I loved watching Armie fight his feeling throughout the last few books. The build up to their story was awesome. This is my favorite book of the series. Armie is just adorable. You have to read this book. Get it right now. I give it 5 stars.
Like many fans of Lori Foster’s Ultimate Series, I have been looking forward to Armie’s story. It can be read as a standalone novel but for regular readers it answers questions we have had building through the last several books. Much of the action happens at Cannon’s gym and the rest in the neighborhood, but Foster gently provides enough background that those of us who have not read all the Ultimate Series books or who read them some time ago can easily follow along and know who all the characters are. I highly recommend this book. I loved this story! It has everything: hot sex, good friends, and problems which are overcome. It includes loving families, dysfunctional families and friends who have become family. One thing I love about Foster’s stories is how her characters are not limited to the families they are born into. They form families made up of friends, and those relationships are as strong as blood ties (and sometimes stronger). The relationships among her characters are a key to her success as a writer, I believe. We know Armie as a good guy, a great fighter but one with a secret that makes him want to avoid the limelight. In Fighting Dirty we discover his secret and, with the help of his fighter family, he learns to overcome his problem. There is danger for Rissy, as well, and of course he wants to protect her by avoiding her. He thinks being with him paints a target on her back. As the story progresses we become involved in the problems the characters face. Just like in real life, there are several things happening and some of them are related but some are not. Armie and Rissy and their friends handle all the situations until they are able to determine and overcome the dangerous problems. Armie is training for his first SBC fight, and gets a new manager and coach to help him in this more difficult arena. Each day he trains, and coaches other fighters, and works with the neighborhood boys who have nowhere else good to go after school. He is a natural coach and teacher and the interactions with all these types of characters are natural. This book includes the friends we have come to know in the Ultimate series, and also some from the earlier Love Undercover series. I enjoyed seeing these old friends. There are also hints about her future plot lines as her Ultimate Series ends and another series begins, including some of the characters we have already met. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.