Author: Kelly Siskind
Siskind’s latest slow-burn romance is stay-up-all-night addictive and proves love hits when you least expect it…
Growing up with an adoring father for a boxing legend isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It looks more like hospital visits, bloody noses, and cracked ribs.
Isla Slade now works as a physiotherapist, helping athletes heal their bodies. Except for boxers. She has no interest in reliving the stress of her teen years. Dating someone in the boxing world? She’d rather snort wasabi powder.
Until she meets Preston Church.
Preston manages heavyweight boxing darling Brick Kramarov. A brute who’s built tougher than his name, with a cocky attitude to boot. She wants nothing to do with either man, but her father begs her to help them prepare for a huge Vegas fight.
She doesn’t expect Preston to recite romantic poems and slowly break her resolve. His fascinating mind gets under her skin, even if his star athlete reminds her how much she hates boxing.
Too bad it’s Brick coaching Preston how to woo Isla, falling for her from the sidelines. Once she finds out, she’ll have to decide if she can risk loving another man who puts it all on the line for the knockout.
Although The Knockout Rule is the fourth novel in the Showmen series, it can be read as a standalone. I have not read the first three and I understood everything in this novel and from reading other reviews it seems that each novel can be read as a standalone as they all fit a central concept, but are not linked by their plots. This novel is described as a slow burn romance and it delivered as it built up the romance a lot and you, as the reader, become anxious for the couple to actually come together. It was a fantastic job on the author’s part as the anxiety of wanting the characters come together is the purpose of a true slow burn rather than promise it and rush the connection.
Isla Slade is the daughter of the famous boxer Graham Slade. She grew up with the anxiety that her father might not survive one more blow while in the ring and it has affected her relationships with boxers and boxing in general as she suffers from panic attacks driven by this fear. Due to this relationship with boxing, she has refused to allow boxers as clients in her new sports physiotherapy clinic that she is working on opening. Although Isla deals with her anxiety, she hides it from her family and anyone else around her as she thinks that she will appear weak given that was how she was raised or how she thinks the world wants from her. She is still very close with her father and is shocked to learn that he has been dealing with a Parkinson’s diagnosis for the past two years. This revelation is only revealed when the father deems it necessary and he believes he has a handle on this disease. This subplot is well-done as it illustrates the struggles each of the two characters deal with as they have their own personal struggles, but also have an image to keep up due to one stigma or another. It is excellent examples of the hidden struggles that people go through alone at times as they don’t want to affect how others see them for one reason or another.
Another character with hidden struggles is our other protagonist, Eric Kramarovsky, also known as famous boxer, Brick Kramorov. He greatly cares for his family and wants to provide for them as they are struggling financially. Money is one of his central motives for boxing as he can earn more being an athlete than he can pursue his linguistic passions. As he wants to be the provider for his sister, her two children, and his mom, he wants his sister to work part-time and be with her children as much as she can. Based on my family dynamics with my older brothers, I had a very difficult time relating to this as my older siblings would not tell me not to work full-time as they try to earn enough for us to get by and it can sometimes not be enough. For my family, we would work together no matter the age or gender to plan out the best way to earn and save money while still balancing family responsibilities. It was hard to relate to and fully understand as it is not explored in depth aside from it being based solely on “conventional” gender/age roles where the “man of the house” has to provide for his family. I understand how some families/people follow this mindset, but for those of us on the outside, it would have been more informative to include a little backstory as to why Eric felt this way about being the provider.
Isla and Eric are brought together when Graham signs on to train Eric for his next big match in Las Vegas. Graham convinces Isla to go along as an excuse to use in case he needs time to rest without arousing suspicion from Eric’s team that includes his manager Preston, who Graham thinks would be perfect for Isla to date. Although Isla is attracted to Eric, she begins to believe that Preston might be a good alternative as he is not a boxer, but still seems like a good guy. As Preston does not have the same interest in poetry that Island and Eric share, he ropes Eric into helping him pursue Isla. It creates an entertaining struggle as Isla and Eric fight their attraction while she begins dating Preston and is impressed by his words, given to him by Eric.
I love that these characters were fairly complex with their own backstories; even Preston has his own backstory that gives him a little more depth. Although they had the almost instant physical attraction, their intellectual connection is what makes them a great couple to root for. It is interesting how the only hiccup for Isla and Eric to come together is the fact that he is a boxer. The story shows how something seemingly small, such as your job or any other obstacle, can actually be a valid reason to fight your attraction and not want to be with someone as it isn’t something you can suddenly overcome in the long-run.
Overall, the story was an enjoyable read and I would be curious to read the rest of the series. It is interesting though how it seems like a big deal for Isla to be with her father in Vegas, but it did not seem like they spent that much time together. It seemed that he showed up only once in a while and it did not line up with how his and Isla’s progression in their relationship was laid out to be. Although Isla and Eric connected through poetry, it seemed that lust was their main driving factor at times. It felt off balance during some portions of the book, but it was not too extreme that it took away from my enjoyment. This novel was a great insight into the boxing world as you learn about the trials and tribulations that these athletes go through and how much training and therapy goes into routines. Generally, this novel was very entertaining and worth reading and, again, I would read the rest of the series and more from this author.