Becoming A Legend by Sarah Robinson
Contemporary Romance, Standalone (but part of a series)
Release Date: December 13, 2016
With her best friend about to marry into the Kavanagh family, Nora has been resisting Kane’s shameless attempts at flirting for months. But after their undeniable chemistry finally takes over, leading to the hottest night of Nora’s life, she’s running scared. There’s a lot about her life Kane doesn’t know, and she won’t be responsible for ending his career. Now Kane’s out to prove that he’s ready for a commitment by winning her heart—and he’s never lost a fight.
BECOMING A LEGEND by Sarah Robinson:
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***Received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
The only problem I had (my main bane of frustration) from the beginning to end had to do with both Nora & Kane's ignoring their true feelings for one other and hiding them. I couldn't understand Kane's reasoning, but I understood Nora's. However, there were times when I wanted to slap them/knock their skulls together for not paying attention to the signs. I mean seriously - How could they ignore that chemistry?
The character I absolutely couldn't relate to was Marie. She was just more than an absent-minded parent, she was a moocher and worse, towards her only child? I loathed that woman and I hope to never hear of her in the future. Nora's desperate fight for Marie's love broke my heart, thus her reasoning for being leery of people ... and of Kane. Marie doesn't deserve Nora's attention/devotion or her love ... EVER. There is no justification at all for a child to be used in such a callous way by their own parent.
The character I truly fell in with this time around was Seamus. He tugged at my heart with the lengths he went to defend not only his family, but the newest members who have joined the fold. If only there were more men like Seamus in this world! He went to great lengths to protect them, much like a parent would and should be.
It was great seeing the family dynamics in action once again as well, with Dee ruling her broad with her usual barb and iron fist. She's the ultimate Mom. I hope that Nora finds in her that mother she deserves. It's my most reverent wish that in Dee, Nora finds a true mom abandons her attempts with Marie.
I'm SO ready for the next book in this series ... and Quinn's story. Something tells me though that I won't survive this book without Kleenex.
“I think you broke his nose,” Rory, his oldest brother, told Kane as he handed him a bottle of water in the corner of the Vegas octagon. The crowd buzzed with excitement, voices hoarse from screaming during the last few rounds. It was all Kane could hear, and it made the blood pound through his veins as they cried for more.
Kane glanced across to his opponent in the opposite corner, similarly surrounded by coaches and trainers helping him prepare for the next round. Xavier’s nose was clearly crooked and gushing blood into a towel, but he didn’t seem concerned or in pain. Meaty, but short, Kane’s enemy was built like a tree stump, low to the ground and impossible to budge. Kane had quickly discovered that although Xavier wasn’t fast, or all that powerful, he wasn’t going to be easy to take down.
Not that it really mattered. He was following someone else’s orders now. End it in the third round, not a minute sooner. Make it look believable, break his nose or something.
Everything Kane had trained for since the moment he’d first stepped into an octagon was staring him in the face. The fight of a lifetime, his dream of fame and fortune.
It was all happening right here, right now.
And he was going to lose it all. You can’t win, Kane.
His father’s hand landed on his shoulder. “Ready for round three? He’s trying to tire you out, don’t let him.”
“Got it.” Kane stood and shook out his limbs, before Rory helped push his mouthpiece back into place. All four of his brothers and his father clapped him on the back and shouted words of encouragement over the roar of the rowdy Las Vegas crowd, before climbing out of the cage and continuing to cheer him on from the sidelines.
Xavier’s team cleared out as well, while the crowd eagerly awaited the start of the third round. Kane tuned them out, just focusing on his fists clenched in front of him. In less than three seconds, he’d have to make the biggest choice of his life.
The warning echoed in his mind as he stared at his opponent. You’ll do it, or everyone you love will pay your debt for you.
The words echoed and rolled in his gut, sickening him. He could win this fight; he wanted to win this fight. He’d spent his whole life preparing to win this fight. But now he had to choose between two of the most important things in the world to him—the fight, or his family.
Seconds away, and he had no idea what he was going to do.
Those beady, black eyes entered his mind again and the threat rang loud and clear.
Take a dive… or else.
“I don’t have time to go to a fucking party, Rory,” Kane said with a loud exhale as his fist crunched into the heavy bag his older brother was braced behind.
“Straighten your arm, hit it straight on,” Rory instructed as Kane continued punching the bag. “You’ve got to go. Ma would kill you.”
“You got engaged last spring, bro. Don’t you think when the leaves start changing you gotta stop milking the celebrations?” In fact, it had been at the state championship Kane had been competing in where Rory had popped the question to his then girlfriend, Clare. Everyone had gone all googly-eyed over the whole thing, and while Kane was happy that his brother was happy, he didn’t really care about romance, weddings, or “girly” things like that. Kane’s twin brother, Kieran, had fallen under the same ridiculous spell a few months later, proposing to his girlfriend, Fiona.
Now that the oldest two brothers of the five Kavanagh men were settling down, their mother was putting pressure on the rest to do the same. Her desire for grandbabies was getting out of hand.
Rory leaned into the bag as Kane continued to punch it. “It’s not an engagement party, it’s a joint bridal shower for Clare and Fiona.”
“Aren’t those things just for chicks? I’m not going to some pink-glitter party.”
Rory shrugged. “Apparently men are invited too. They’re being all progressive or some shit— I don’t know. Ma said we gotta all show.”
Kane rolled his eyes. “Fine, but there better be beer.”
“You can’t drink even if there is. You’re in training.”
“I’m getting drunk or I’m not going.” Kane slammed his fist on the bag a little closer to Rory’s head.
“Nationals is three months away, Kane. If you’re going to beat Xavier, then you’ve got to be at the top of your game, and I’m saying that as your trainer. You need to be in the best shape possible.”
Kane straightened and pulled the wraps off his hands before turning to the young woman in a neon-green sports bra walking past them toward the treadmills that Legends Mixed Martial Arts gym had off to one side of the main room. “Excuse me, beautiful. Can I ask you a question?”
She paused and looked at him, fluttering her eyelids and giving him a flirtatious smile. “As long as it ends with you taking my phone number.”
Kane grinned. Women seemed to like the whole MMA thing he had going for him. “My brother here says I’m not in shape. What do you think?”
She raked her eyes up and down his body, a slow smile creeping over her face as she paused at his abs and touched her tongue to her lips. He flexed his eight-pack, and when she caught her breath, he shot her a knowing grin.
“Oh, I think you’re doing just fine,” she said with an exaggerated wink. She picked up the phone sitting on the shelf next to where he was standing and programmed in a number. “But call me, and we can put it to the test.” She set the phone back in place.
“Well then,” Kane said with a laugh, his brows raised as he watched her walk off, a purposeful sway in her hips that said she hoped he was watching. She disappeared around a corner, and Kane turned back to Rory. “See? I’m doing just fine, and I’m having that beer.”
“Next time you hit on a random chick, how about you stop her before she puts her number in my phone,” Rory said, grabbing the phone off the shelf and scrolling through his contact list. “If Clare saw something like that in here, I’d be dead.”
“That’s why I leave my phone in my locker.” Kane shrugged. “I come here to train, and that’s it. Honestly, I could be the poster child of restraint and focus.”
Rory snorted, shaking his head at Kane’s sarcasm. “Yeah, sure you are.”
While Kane avoided any romances or trysts at the gym his family owned, he had to admit that it was hard to refrain. There were some gorgeous women who came here, mainly because it was so well known for sponsoring some of the top mixed martial art athletes of the last decade. Rory’s romance with Clare had mostly flourished inside the walls of this gym, or at least the part Kane had seen when he walked in on them one morning having a naked sleepover in the middle of an octagon. Despite their breaking Kane’s cardinal rule, he had to admit it had turned out pretty well for his brother and he loved Clare like a sister now.
“What did she say her name was?” Rory’s face was scrunched up as he stared at his phone. “I can’t figure out what she added, I’ve got like hundreds of contacts in here.”
“Seriously?” Kane leaned over Rory’s shoulder, looking at the contact list he was scanning through. “You’ve got that many ladies on the hook you can’t tell them apart, player?”
“Fuck you.” A smirk lifted one corner of his mouth as he shoved the phone back in his pocket. “Clare’s the only girl for me. About time you started settling down too, you know.”
Not a chance in hell. Kane laughed and shook his head, saying goodbye to his brother as he walked toward the locker rooms to shower. He wasn’t looking forward to the bridal shower, but if there were some hot women there, he might be able to get through it.
The blare of music could easily be heard in the night air outside of O’Leary’s Pub as Kane pulled open one of the heavy doors and walked inside. The moment his eyes had adjusted to the bar’s interior, he found himself in a place he barely recognized as the pub he’d been going to for years. Glimmering little lights hung from the ceiling, obscuring the old bar lanterns. Soft white fabric covered walls that were usually forest green with dark wood paneling, giving the place more of a gauzy boudoir appearance than a bar. The high tables surrounded by tall barstools had been draped in shiny gold tablecloths adorned with elaborate centerpieces.
What the fuck…?
His brothers must have rented out the entire place for the night. Thick red velvet rope strung between heavy brass posts created a barrier beyond which lay a dance floor that looked like it had been laid down just for the occasion.
Well, that was something. He did love dancing, and he had already spied a number of beautiful women he’d love to whisper sweet nothings to on the dance floor. And if he were lucky—
“About time, Killer” Kieran, his twin brother, smirked at Kane from a few feet away, using Kane’s fighting name. It was like looking in a mirror since Kieran was identical to him in almost every way, from their dark brown hair and blue eyes to broad shoulders and strong build. The only difference is Kieran was somehow an inch or two taller than him, but Kane was still well over six feet and made up for it in muscle.
Technically, it had been Kieran’s name first, but Kane had stolen it from him when Kieran was incarcerated. It was a good name, and he had wanted it. He wasn’t sorry. He always went after what he wanted. Kieran had initially been angry, but later forgave him, joking that Kane had more of a killer instinct anyway. Damn straight.
“Hey, bro.” Kane clasped his brother’s hand as they bumped their shoulders together and gave each other a pat on the back. “Nice party.”
“That’s all thanks to this lady over here.” Kieran pulled away and wrapped an arm around the blue-eyed brunette sporting a large diamond on her ring finger.
Having spent a couple of years in jail and now engaged to the beautiful Fiona and helping raise a sweet special needs little girl, Kane had never seen his twin brother busier—or happier. Kane was just glad to have him back, because those years apart were the worst. Kieran wasn’t just his brother, he was his best friend, and yet jail had changed all of that. He’d been gone, and then jumped right into a serious relationship with an instant family. Now Kieran was still a huge part of his life, but it was different. These days Kane saw Rory more often than he saw his own twin, which was odd since Kieran technically lived with him, though he spent most of his nights with Fiona, sneaking out before her little sister woke up.
“And thanks to Clare,” Fiona added, smiling up at her fiancé. Kane gave her a hug next, wrapping her in his big arms like she’d been his sister his whole life.
“Where’s Shea?” Kane asked, inquiring after Fiona’s younger sister as he gave her a hug. Shea had special needs and Fiona had become her legal guardian after their mother had been murdered. Both girls had completely stolen his heart over the last few months, and he’d do anything for them. It might not be official yet, but in his mind, they were both Kavanaghs.
“Kiera’s babysitting her at your parent’s house,” Fiona answered, referring to the young teacher who always babysat for her.
“What? Kiera’s not coming?” A broad-shouldered man standing nearby turned and stepped into the conversation uninvited. Fiona confirmed with a nod, before Kieran whisked her away to greet other party-goers across the room. Frowning, he crossed his heavily inked arms over his chest, flexing his muscles and making his many tattoos seem to come alive. “Couldn’t Fi have found someone else? Kiera should be here.”
Kane acknowledged his younger brother with a roll of his eyes. “For fuck’s sake, Quinn, make a move on the girl or move on.”
“Like you’re one to talk,” Quinn tossed back. “You and Nora have been flirting for as long as we’ve known her.”
Kane laughed and shook his head. “Correction, I’ve been flirting. She’s stonewalling me.”
“Whatever. It’s not like that with Kiera and me,” Quinn continued. “We’re just friends.”
“Friends that want to bang,” Kane continued.
“Ah, the first crass line of the evening, and you only just got here.” Nora Hannigan, Fiona’s best friend and now a frequent guest at every Kavanagh function, walked up next to him, one hand on her hip as she looked at him with disgust before turning to his inked-up brother with a warm smile. “Hi, Q, how are you?”
“I’m great, but I’m not the one you need to worry about.” Quinn gestured between her and Kane. “Ma told me to make sure you two don’t ruin the party with your bickering.”
“We don’t bicker,” the hazel-eyed beauty protested as she pushed her tight blond curls over her shoulder, letting them fall down her back. He paused, unable to ignore how stunning she lookedin her short cocktail dress and strappy high heels. Everything hugged her small curves perfectly and he was instantly reminded why he’d first found her himself attracted to her so many months ago.
“Bickering is for kids,” Kane agreed, sidling up beside Nora’s tall frame and wrapping an arm around her waist. “See? We can play nice and be adults.”
Quinn rolled his eyes at them both before leaving them alone. “Whatever, but you’ve got Ma to deal with if you keep hating each other.”
Kane grinned and squeezed her side slightly with his hand. “I think he bought that we don’t hate each other.”
“You mean you hope he bought it,” she said through a tight smile. “Since you’re petrified of your mother.”
Kane chuckled, but she was partly right because the last thing he ever wanted to do was upset his mother. He tightened his grip, pulling her more snuggly into his side. Yeah, he liked the feel of her there. He smiled down at her. “Nothing wrong with a man respecting his mother.”
Nora didn’t answer, but she stiffened under his hand. “You just said you’d play nice.”
“Oh, I am,” his voice husky and low against her ear.
She stepped away from him, but with little room to move she found herself trapped between him and the bar. He dropped one arm down on either side of her, gripping the bar’s edge in both hands. “Believe me, I can play very nice if you would retract your claws, kitty.”
He wasn’t one for nicknames usually, but from the moment he first met Nora in this very bar so many months ago, he’d called her kitty. She practically hissed at him as he had tossed out every pick up line he knew back then. The nickname riled her up so much, he made sure to tease her with it whenever the opportunity presented itself.
But sometimes, he didn’t just want to ruffle her feathers. Sometimes, he wanted them to put away the barbs and just be real. “You look so fucking beautiful, Nora.”
Nora visibly gulped, her chest rising and falling faster than it had been a moment before. “It’s just us. You don’t have to play nice.”
“No games.” The blood rushed through his ears, drowning out the noise of the party. They were in a sea of friends and family, and yet it felt to him as if they were alone, in the same bubble they always found themselves in when around each other—and for a second, she looked like she was thinking the same thing. “I mean it, Nora. You’re stunning.”
Her pupils dilated, a soft red tinge of color touched her cheeks, and her cleavage seemed to push harder against the top of her shirt—little details he might have missed if he’d allowed her snippy words to keep him at a distance as they normally did. But up close… he felt a jolt of adrenaline, a bit like when he was in the ring and he zeroed in on an opponent’s weakness. But Nora wasn’t weak. He’d never make the mistake of thinking that—but she wasn’t nearly as immune to him as she pretended to be.
Just as quickly as it had appeared, the flash of lust on her face was gone and she cleared her throat, standing taller. “Kane, stop it. I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but nothing is going to happen between us. Never.”
He dropped one of his arms, making it easy for her to leave if she wanted. “Whatever you say, kitty.”
She stepped away from him, glancing back and giving him a stiff, strange wave where she wiggled all her fingers exaggeratedly. The corners of his lips twitched into a smile, his brows raised as Nora quickly dropped her hand to her side, looking mortified at her own, unusual actions. “Um, yeah, okay, bye.” With a small laugh that sounded more like a nervous exhale, she turned and walked off.
Kane chuckled to himself as he enjoyed watching her from behind until she disappeared into the crowd.
Not one to waste time, especially when the music was so good, Kane headed for the dance floor to enjoy the party. It only took seconds before a not-so-sober brunette he didn’t recognize slipped her arm around his, batting long eye lashes at him as she pressed against his bicep.
No words were exchanged, because none were needed. He wanted to dance, and she wanted to dance with him. He took her hand and let the beat move them around the crowded dance floor. The song was fast and everyone was working up a sweat in the tight quarters, but he enjoyed every second of it.
Several songs went by and the brunette kept moving closer and closer. Normally he wouldn’t mind, but for some reason, he wasn’t interested in taking things further with her. Strange.
The brunette turned around, shaking her backside for him. Kane let go of her hand and pulled away, trying to keep a slight distance between them. He wanted to dance, but he wasn’t in the mood to feel up a stranger who was probably somehow related to his future sister-in-laws—especially when his mind was on someone else.
As if she knew he was thinking of her, Kane caught Nora out of the corner of his eye standing on the edge of the dance floor. The song came to an end and she turned away, but Kane wasn’t about to let her go again. Excusing himself from the brunette, he waded through the crowd and caught Nora’s elbow.
“You looked like you were about to dance, kitty,” he said, his lips near her ear.
She shivered and looked up at him. “Maybe, but not with you.”
“One dance.” He slid his fingers down her arm from her shoulder to her wrist, then sliding his hand into hers. “Then you can ditch me for someone hotter.”
She let him lead her a few steps onto the floor. “’Til I find someone hotter? That shouldn’t be hard.”
He smirked, but didn’t respond because there was no doubt in his mind that once he had her out there, she wouldn’t be looking at anyone else. Kane led her to the center of the crowd, and pulled her to his chest. She looked up at him slowly, as if unsure what she was going to do, but when their eyes met and the next song started, she didn’t pull away.
He let his fingers trail down her arms, loving the feeling of her soft skin, then lifted her hands to his shoulders. She locked them behind his neck and together, they swayed with the music. Her tongue slid across her lower lip and it took every bit of strength he had not to taste for himself.
The tempo picked up and he moved faster, guiding her along with him. She kept up pace perfectly, and he felt proud when he saw her smile as he spun her around in front of him. Nora collapsed against his chest laughing, as he captured her small waist in his hands.
“You’re a good dancer,” she admitted, and his brows instantly shot up in surprise at her newfound kindness toward him. “I can’t believe you spun me around. I’ve never seen a guy do that except in the movies.”
He chuckled slightly, but kept them moving as the next song came on. “You need to be dating some better guys then, kitty.”
Nora dipped her head with the music, a slow smile pulling on her lips as his hands held her waist. “I’m not dating anyone right now.”
Kane pulled her even closer, bringing his lips to her neck and loving the soft silk of her skin against him. Her curls tickled his cheek, but the sweet vanilla smell was intoxicating. Nora shivered beneath him, her hands tightening around his biceps as if to keep herself from falling over. His lips found her ear and he whispered, “Is that an invitation?”
“What?” She stepped back slightly, her face flushing red as she blinked rapidly. “No way. I mean, I’m not dating at all right now.” Her hands perched on her hips as she cocked her head to the side. “And even if I was, you certainly wouldn’t be at the top of that list.”
Kane laughed loudly at that one and grabbed her hand, pulling her back into their dance. Her hips pressed against him and the friction between them made his entire body feel hot. “At least you’re a better dancer than you are a liar.”
She rolled her eyes but continued to shake with the beat, and he moved right along with her. It wasn’t overly sensual or hot and heavy grinding, but rather, light hearted and fun. For the first time, they were enjoying being together without all the hostility between them.
“One more dance,” he said as the beat switched over to a slower song. “To make up for the super embarrassing wave thing you did earlier.”
Nora snorted and let out a slight groan. “You saw that? Fantastic.”
“I always see you, kitty.” He was smiling, but not because of her sarcasm. Kane was just happy—genuinely enjoying spending time with the sassy beauty.
“Always with the pick-up lines,” she teased, but Nora couldn’t hide the grin on her face. There was an excitement in her eyes he’d never seen before. She pushed up on her toes and dropped a kiss on his cheek. “Thanks for the dance, Kane. I needed that.”
A huge grin spread across his face as he watched her slip away into the crowd. She wanted him. There was no denying it. After pushing him away for what felt like forever, the stoic blonde was letting down her guard. The evidence had been right there, so obvious the whole crowd might have noticed if they’d been watching.
He finally had a shot, and he was going to take it.