Title: Tough Love
Series: Ultimate #3
Author: Lori Foster
Format: Paperback & eBook, 544 pages
Published: August 25, 2015 by HQN
Links: Goodreads | AMAZON | B&N
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
She's playing hard to get… to win the MMA fighter of her ultimate fantasies in a sultry new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster…
Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she's not above playing a little dirty. She's wanted Stack "The Wolf" Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack's past steps out of the shadows.
Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he's the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they're much more than friends with benefits. He's ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who's tamed him for good?
Vanity has had her eye on Stack ever since she met him but with a reputation for avoiding commitment, she decides a little subterfuge is needed. She invites him to be her date to a wedding, with the promise of things ending in the bedroom but the caveat is that they aren't going to do anything until then and they can still see other people. This doesn't stop Vanity from teasing Stack to distraction, though. When their big night comes, fate intervenes with problematic issue over problematic issue. Vanity is a caring person and wants to help Stack but also give him his space while Stack is developing real feelings for Vanity but isn't sure right now is the time to let her in. Life is crazy but is giving each other a chance, just as crazy?
Third in the Ultimate series, Tough Love, focuses on Vanity (Yvette from No Limits' friend) and Stack. In the previous book, Holding Strong, Vanity made the deal with Stack for being her date at Yvette and Cannon's wedding but we start off here the night of the wedding and really the beginning of their story; don't worry if you haven't read the previous books. Vanity and Stack are already hot for each other, due to Vanity's teasing for weeks but with a night filled with car accidents and emergency room visits, there is a lot of starting and stopping for our couple. The beginning was a mixture of comical sexual vexation, heat, and frustration for me as the reader as it became a little too overdone in regards to instances keeping our couple apart.
Vanity was a bit of an uneven character for me. She lost all her family members in a plane crash so was supposedly afraid to put her heart out there but I never saw that. From the beginning she seems to love Stack and making plans to lure him in, she doesn't want him to feel pressured or smothered but constantly integrates herself into his family's issues. She also had a few Mother Teresa moments with "I have all this money and just want to help!" and buying into Stack's brother-in-law's lies. Stack was cardboard alpha for a lot of the book. He supposedly hangs around his MMA brothers because they are all that are good in the world and he trusts no one like he does these guys but it is repeatedly a problem when Vanity hangs around the guys because it makes him growly jealous that they might be hitting on her. Does he think these are good guys or not, can he trust them or not?
I liked these two together but with the unnecessary drama with Stack's ex-girlfriend and the three ring circus surrounding the who and why of the hired men to beat, no wait kill!, Stack, we don't get to see them together a whole lot. The ending with the Big Misunderstanding knocked a star off the rating for me also. Stack was extremely rude to Vanity, blew something way out of proportion, and then was dummy dumbfounded when she thought he broke up with her. The whole instance made Stack look extremely stupid, not a good look for a hero.
If you have been following along with this series, you'll know that all the stories feature overly good, angels on earth people and is probably why I'm chomping at the bit to get Armie's story. He has been popping in and out of all the books and while he is a good person, he seems to have some jagged edges to him. Here we got to see him break a bit in regards to owning up to wanting Merissa, Cannon's sister. Armie's book is next and I can't wait.