Book Spotlight - Phenomenal X (Hard Knocks #1) by Michelle A. Valentine ~ Ava and Derna's Reviews, Excerpt and Playlist
After a couple quick stretches I get down on the floor and begin hammering out push-ups. Focusing on the burn in my muscles takes my mind off the pain of my emotions. This is one of the reasons I got so big to begin with. Nothing else compares to the way I feel when I work out.
Working out, and fucking women: the two things that completely take my mind off everything. And they’re my two greatest addictions.
Well, if I’m being honest, I suppose that was true once, but not now. Being with Anna takes my mind off my shitty past too. That is, until she tries to bring it up.
I know she means well, but there’s no way she can fathom how fucked up things were for me. Her life with her domineering father is child’s play next to what I dealt with. At least her parents care enough to be involved in her life.
“One hundred and twelve,” I count out loud as I keep pumping in a steady rhythm up and down, and my eyes fixate on the corner of the nightstand as I get lost in the burn.
I was doing just fine with avoiding my past, until lately. Walking away from Anna is the best thing to do. She’s fucking with my head, making me want things I know I can’t have.
I’m not normal. No mind as fucked up as mine could ever have a shot at a normal relationship. It’s not fair to her to drag her into my world.
Maybe if I just fuck her--get it over with—we’d both be able to move on. I’m just afraid if I ever get a taste of that sweetness that I’ll be a fucking goner.
I know me. Once I become addicted I won’t be able to let go, and I’ll drag her down with me. She doesn’t deserve that. She deserves more.
She deserves so much better than me.
The goodness that pours out of her lights my world up like she’s a goddamn angel. She shouldn’t want anything to do with a demon like me because I’ll taint her. What she saw tonight will most definitely cause her to hate me. I should be glad that she no longer wants anything to do with me.
But, I can’t let her go.
Not that easily.
I’m too selfish to do the right thing and leave her alone.
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.*
“Have you ever felt a connection with someone without knowing them?
I love a fighter book, so I jumped at the chance to review Phenomenal X my first book by Michelle A. Valentine. I have heard good things about Michelle’s writing, and the Black Falcon series has been waiting on my Kindle for a while now, but I have feeling will now be bumped up my TBR list.
Phenomenal X is Anna Cortez & Xavier ‘x’ Cold’s story. Anna the good time girl who has left home in order to get away from her controlling father. X’s is a professional wrestling and hot bad boy. When theses two meets on a plane to Detroit, there is definitely an attraction. Xavier makes it clear he wants Anna, but her rejection something Xavier isn't use to, and, therefore, just gives him a reason to try harder.
“I glance at the empty seat next to possibly the most attractive, yet scary, man I’ve ever come in contact with and my heart does a thump”
The storyline was not too different from ones I have read before, bad sexy boy, innocent girl, but that being said I liked it. It’s not too high on the angst and drama. I do think more wrestling action would have added to the story, and I hope we get more in the next book.
Told from mainly Anna’s point of view however there is some of Xavier also thrown in, but for me it was not enough I want to know more of what this man was thinking. I’m greedy like that I always want equal amounts of both POV.
“Xavier Cold is one bad man I pray I get the chance to know”
Anna and Xavier both had some issues going on. Anna is sweet, but bit naive and slightly insecure at times. Xavier is sexy, with a cocky attitude; that he uses to mask his demons.
“There a darkness inside me that no one should have to experiences, and that’s what I’m trying to protect you from. No one should have to live with my demons but me”
I like their friendship/relationship, and how they got to know each other, both feeling things that they are not use too. Loved Xavier alpha side, but also his gentle side that he had and would sometimes show. The sexual tension between them was high, and so many times I found myself thinking just do it already. LOL
“And just like that I’m a goner. I’m in so much trouble. Lots and lots of trouble”
She’s not like any other woman I’ve met. The fact that she called me out on my shit confirms her realness, and that’s what I crave”
“Whatever this is, we’ll get through it together. Let me in. I want to know all of you- good and bad”
I did find myself tapping my kindle when it ended looking for missing pages, as rather than a big cliffhanger I felt it just seem to stop. And so ending like that it obvious that Anna & Xavier story is not over, and I hope the wait is not too long to find out how it all end to these two.
Overall I enjoyed Phenomenal X it was an easy read with some secondary characters that I liked such as Quinn, and a few I wanted to punch. I like Michelle’s writing style and I have a feeling I will enjoy her other books. If you like your sexy fighters than I would add this one to your TBR list, and meet Xavier.
"You're special to me, Anna, and I want to keep you forever,"
"This will not end well for either of us because I won't know how to let her go."
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.*
I am a huge fan of Michelle's Black Falcon series so I was just as eager to read something new from her. With Phenomenal X being set in the world of wrestling I was doubly intrigued. Anna Cortez is your typical doe eyed female lead; she is running from an overbearing father and an arranged marriage she wants to get out of. After a tomato juice disaster and some seat swapping on the aeroplane she is placed next to the one and only Phenomenal X, of course sheltered Anna has no idea just how big a celebrity he is and this is an instant turn on for X. A cat and mouse game ensues and even though they are opposites, X won't stop until he has Anna. Under the guise of "just friends" isn't ideal but he'll take it. Anna's cousin Quinn can't believe Anna has caught the interest of the world's hottest commodity, making Anna realise she has no idea what she has let herself in for.
"I hand the phone to Quinn. The knowing grin on her face only adds to the gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that Xavier Cold is about to be the tornado that flips my world upside down."
Xavier initiates Anna into his world of wrestling and ego matches in and out of the ring. Even though she knows she should resist, Anna gives in and smashes the just friends barrier between them, there is of course heartache, drama and double crossing to follow. Their future is left in the balance as an enemy of Xavier's messes with Anna and of course, X isn't going to stand by and take it. Their story will continue and it really can go in any direction.
There were many things I liked about this book but similarly there were a few things that just left me wanting more. I liked the whole set up of Anna meeting X on the plane and how they came to be, I also liked the wrestling element as this was something new to me, however it wasn't as prominent as I expected it to be in the story.
I believe Anna's innocence was meant to be endearing but to me it came across as frustrating, her naivety was a little grating at times and I really wanted to give her a shake. When X stepped out of line, I felt it was glossed over and because she had him on a pedestal, his behaviour was easily accepted.
The man himself in question, Xavier or Phenomenal X, had my feelings split. On one hand I loved his testosterone filled Alpha side, and when he was in protective mode over Anna, I had the butterflies going on.
"You just gave me the green light to end your fucking world."
"Looks like it's your lucky day, fucker. You should kiss the ground this angel walks on because she just saved your fucking life."
He was swoon worthy and it was clear that Anna was different from his usual conquest; she made him feel things that were foreign and scary at times. And for a big guy like X this was ironic.
"I smile. "Have you seen you? You make grown men shake in their boots with one look."
Xavier pushes a lock of hair back behind my ear. "That's funny."
I tilt my head. "Why?"
He stares into my eyes. "I don't feel very threatening when a five foot five girl scares the shit out of me."
"You're special to me, Anna, and I want to keep you forever," he whispers.
So you see, I loved sweet Xavier, I adored those scenes between them but I felt the spark missing from their relationship, it was a slow build to nurture their friendship first and foremost but I didn't quite understand where Xavier was coming from, was his attraction to Anna purely based on her turning him down? Because she was the first person to tell him no? I wish we had more from him to really get inside his head. The book was told in Anna's POV for the most part and Xavier got one or two chapters, it was split unevenly and it was something I missed. I felt the story could have been strengthened with more of Xavier.
With that been said, this was a very quick and easy read. Not a lot happened in terms of major drama, so I can only assume that will come in part two. I did feel like we were left hanging at the end, it seemed to end mid-scene and I was thinking 'is that it?' Perhaps the main rival needed a bigger presence throughout the story so it didn't seem like the main event just popped up in the last ten minutes.
Phenomenal X is a big departure from the Black Falcon series, fans of Michelle A. Valentine will love Xavier just as fiercely I don't doubt. I'm not all the way in love yet but I know given more time with X I could be.
Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic and New Adult romance. Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos, and sexy musicians inspired her erotic BLACK FALCON series.
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