Fight For You
by Magan Vernon
Published April 11th 2014 by Beautifully Broken Books
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A mafia prince who doesn't want the crown.A girl who has secrets of her own.One love that they'll both have to fight for.
Nicky Ragusa lives his life inside the cage, circuiting the underground ring to escape his fate as the mafia prince. When Jackie Marks crashes into his life, he’ll take the fight outside the cage.
But the battle for Jackie’s heart comes with a steep price. Nicky’s father has wanted him to take over the family business for years, and the time for running is over. Now Nicky is right where his father has always wanted him: in the middle of a war.
All Nicky has ever wanted to do was fight. Now all he has to do is fight for her.
Magan Vernon has a wonderfully gripping story in Fight for You. I do have some issues with her main characters' decisions (but then, when do I not?) but other points grabbed me in just the right way and I was siding with secondary characters who I never thought I would!
Nicky is, in a word, trapped. He's born into a world he wants no part of and struggles to make a name for himself in another world where he has no hope of going forward. While he knows he's been born and raised to be the Don in Chicago, it's a role he's been trying to run away from as soon as he realized the implications. Crime isn't something he wanted to get into, he doesn't want the absolute power, and he wants to be a success on his own, not through an inheritance.
His frustrations lead him into another world of violence, but this time one with clearer rules. Mixed martial arts requires discipline and focus, something his father already instilled in him as a kid during his training, but pairing those attributes with his will to succeed gains him fame as a fighter, ironically under the name El Principe, which he also is in his other life. He's stuck fighting underground, though, because being El Principe in real life means he can't be a professional, no matter how good he is.
He literally crashes into Jackie one night, and to make up for it, he pays for her hospital bills and buys her a new bike. Jackie, however, is independent and headstrong and won't take any of his gifts. Faced with a woman who cares nothing for his money or power, Nicky finds himself becoming very interested. Unfortunately, that interest sparks a war between the famiglia and a neighborhood gang with results neither of them could have foreseen.
While Nicky is a good guy at heart, I found myself siding more with his father. Vince Ragusa is best described as an ass, but the advice he gives his son, while harsh, rings true. Gang members know no morals or rules, they only understand death. But even he couldn't have predicted what was to happen.
There were no better characters for me than his Aunt Jo and Uncle Guido, though. These two were the heart of the famiglia and no one else showed Nicky more love and acceptance than these two. That fact that they were great cooks didn't hurt either!
I loved the fight scenes, more specifically the way they were written! The ring was in itself another character in this book and there was no other place that Nicky was more alive - except when he was with Jackie, of course. It was (dating myself badly!) like watching a Jean-Claude van Damme movie! Or, a more recent pick, Ip Man's movie. There is none of the grace or control you'd expect from boxing, but the raw, unadulterated power you would see in a UFC fight.
I do have a little complaint with timing here, like Jackie's speedy recovery from a seemingly serious accident or how quickly Nicky's cousin Dominic recovers from their bloody sparring session. It's like everyone has super fast healing time! Then there are Nicky's academic ideas on how to solve problems. This is why I sided with his dad - there is no diplomatic reasoning with any gang. Don't get me started on how Jackie is so blind when it comes to most things concerning the gang, either.
Fight for You, simply because it's a Mafia novel, led me to compare it with a Mario Puzo favorite, The Godfather. There are parts that showed more of the Corleone family - especially Sonny Corleone, who I could compare Nicky Ragusa to in certain ways. In fact, I think if it was existing then, he would have dabbled in mixed martial arts himself!
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