In the Ring, (Boxer 1), Rie Warren
In the Ring, (Boxer 1), Rie Warren.
N.B. Special publication price and also on KU
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I’ve read a few of Rie’s books now, some I loved, some not so much but I do enjoy a well written LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the romance.
I know from past reads Rie always has the balance of story v sex right, giving a read that’s totally engrossing.
Some artists have a style so you can pick out their work from others easily, whether its the way they use colour, the brushstrokes, something that makes the painting “theirs”, and I’ve noticed some writers are like that too. They write in a way that as soon as I begin reading I’d know it was one of their books simply by the writing style, the type of story, its as if they have a certain “voice” and Rie’s books are like that to me. Even those I didn’t totally get along with I still loved the way they were written, its just that particular story that didn’t cut it. So starting a new book I’m not quite sure whether its going to be a love/like/OK read…
We wade straight in, and its a very dialogue based read which always works for me. We get much of the main character, Liam’s, thoughts. That’s something I enjoy too in novels, I like to know what the characters are thinking, feeling, the why, when and how decisions are reached. Rie uses that format often, and it lets me feel as if I really know the character from their thoughts.
Liam, ah Liam. Poor man, he’s from a very traditional Catholic background, found his niche in cage fighting and beyond, working his way to stardom in that field, along with substantial money, which his mum and siblings badly need.
Dad’s a deadbeat drunk, typical stereotype of a Catholic ranter, drink, beat up the wife and/or kids, repent after and reset to normal. Agghh that’s what I hate about religion, though he’s one of those religious in name only, church and the teachings he doesn’t like get ignored, only the part that supports his wants and ideas counts. Sadly there’s far too many religious – any religion – people like that.
It makes it tough for Liam though, growing up trying to protect his family from his dad. That’s where he learned to use his fists, his strength, and it got honed on the streets. No-one knows he’s gay, life is tough enough without owning that, it would only lead to more beatings, more ridicule. Now he’s at the top of a “Real Man’s” sport, and to come out could mean disaster, ridicule, a loss of all he’s worked so hard for, a financial hit he can’t afford as he’s supporting the family.
Its something that happens so much in sports – especially those that are seen as Male preserve, boxing, football, rugby, racing car drivers, it’s as if its a crime to be gay if you’re in one of those sports. Yet its impossible they don’t have gay people there….laws of averages mean there must be some. I wonder how many are like Liam, denying what they are, hiding their true face, unable to have the relationships they deserve. Sad isn’t it that we are, or are perceived to be, so judgemental. Who cares about the sex ( or race, religion, colour etc) of someone you love, its the love that’s important, not the sex of the other person.
The tide is turning slowly, but its got a long way to go. At least we’ve moved on from criminalising same sex relationships. Alan Turig, hero of WW2, which would have lasted far longer without him, and yet due to bigots after the war he was jailed, chemically castrated and committed suicide at just 42. It was only recently he was awarded posthumously the medals the other code breakers got. Yep, that’s how we treat(ed) heroes here in the UK. Its OK to be gay so long as you hide it and we need you for something 😦
Aaannd, off my soapbox and back to the book. Liam has a real crush on his trainer Michael, but a) he’s not out and b) Michael is, and c) he has a long term boyfriend. Its hard though ( very much so!!) when the job means Michael has his hands all over Liam, many times each day…
I got a bit cross at Michael at times as he almost seemed to be taunting Liam, as if he suspected he liked what he was doing ( in truth he did and had a difficult job hiding it ). I didn’t think that was fair when he could guess from his knowledge of the sport why Liam wasn’t out – if he was Gay as he suspected – especially given that Michael wasn’t in a position to do anything without cheating on Wade, his boyfriend. I don’t like cheating – hate it, so was irritated at Michael’s not-so-subtle flirting.
Poor Liam was confused, did Michael return his feelings or not. Just when it seemed he did he’d blow cold again. Then once things moved on – gah, Michael!
I so felt for poor Liam, he really was in a tough place. And so alone except for Anya, his for-the-public possible girlfriend, but who’s really just a good friend and game of thrones addict too, and Gideon, his new gay friend. He was a great character, and I’d like to know more about him.
Liam’s manager Dev, someone who’s known him a long while, is the only one who knows he’s gay but he’s not at all supportive, conscious all the while of his financial interest, not wanting Liam’s star to fall, and take away the money he makes.
Does he care that Liam’s unhappy? Short answer, no. He’s one of those who seem to think if they dangle ladies before a gay man at some point they must take the bait, and all will be “normal” again.
Its a fun story, great and very real characters, genuinely emotional at times, heart-breaking thinking this is reality for many people, just because of old fashioned bigoted perceptions. terrific ending, which had me cheering for Liam, happy at what he did, the choices he made, the way he handled Dev.
Stars: Five,a great read, full of real issues and a perfect HEA..
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers