My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Real by Katy Evans is most probably my first ‘official’ NA read. I hadn’t ventured into that genre until very recently, when this book was recommended to me by several people. When I found out that some of my trusted GR buddies loved this book, I had to try it for myself. It was like a cherry on top when I found that I’m auto-approved for the ARC of the re-issue by the publisher. I jumped in and what a journey it has been!
The story is narrated from first person POV of Brooke, the h of the story. She’s an ex-athlete, was aspiring to compete in the Olympics when all her hopes were dashed after suffering a very bad injury. It not only shattered her dreams but also most of her life plan cause you see, Brooke’s whole life was build on that dream. She was totally focused, practiced hard, didn’t even date or flirt with boys of her age (she was around 16) that much. All was gone in one moment! Brooke was about to give up becoming depressed when the sports rehab helped her getting back into life. After that, she took the training to become a sports rehab specialist so that she can help other athletes who might be going through something similar or close to her situation.
Brooke’s family has been somewhat supportive of her throughout, if not always helpful. But they want Brooke to have a job, a career. She loves her mom and dad but it always eats at her that she disappointed them. Apart from her parents, Brooke has a younger sister, Nora, who is apparently touring the world right now. And there is her best friend, Melanie.
Brooke is nothing like Melanie, who loves sleeping with different men, whoever catches her attention. She’s the one who takes Brooke to this underground match that was about to change her life. Brooke has never been in a wild crowd like this one, so up close and cheering, screaming for one man only- Remington ‘RIPTIDE’ Tate. She definitely didn’t dream of meeting the man, let alone finding her soulmate in him. But then, there he was, on the ring taking out his opponents like it’s the easiest thing in the world!
When Melanie starts shouting like the rest of the bunch, somehow she catches Remington’s attention. Oh my, it’s not Melanie he’s staring at but Brooke. Brooke can’t breathe, she can’t think. She’s not that kind of girl who throws panties at the hot guy but this is so different. And when, he smiles at her flashing those sexy dimples, Brooke is a goner.
I think the scene that got me was when Remington follows Brooke after the match like a possessed man, moving and shoving people from his path. And then, he introduces himself in two words only:
I knew I was going to LOVE Remington, or Remy right from that scene and I wasn’t disappointed wherever he was in the narrative.
After that meeting, Remy looks up for Brooke and finds out where she lives. He wanted to meet her privately after a match and sends out tickets for her. Melanie was trying her best to convince Brooke that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to shag the hottest guy in the underground boxing world. Brooke was even prepared for that because, of course, he made her panties wet every time she thought of him (yah, I know the sentiment). But to her surprise, she finds herself with a job; to work with Reminton’s team in keeping him fit.
Brooke was looking for a job and this suited her just well. This also gave her plenty of opportunity to be with Remy for the next three months and know him personally. Soon enough, it was very much apparent that Remy is obsessed with her. He’s a man of little words and Brooke finds that he likes expressing himself through the music he plays only to her. It becomes one of their favorite pastimes to exchange music/songs to express their thoughts, something I liked very much because I do that a lot myself. “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls is one of my most favorite songs and he won me over twice playing that song for Brooke (Ok, I’d much prefer he played that for me... oh well).
Brooke likes her new life with Remy’s people; the coach, Remy’s assistants Pete and Riley and his special cook, Diane. They all welcome her and soon Brooke beings to feel at home, or close enough. But most of all, it’s Remy that starts occupying her mind. As Brooke begins to discover the man called Remington Tate, she finds that he comes with his own baggage. For one, she hated discovering the fact that Remy needed women (whores) after a night of big fight. She was hurt by this, even though she knew she has no business of getting hurt. Then, through some incidents that should’ve given her an idea, Brooke finds out that there’s something very wrong with Remy. His assistants Riley and Pete like to call him ‘speedy’ when he’s having one of those ‘incidents’.
Brooke doesn’t understand at first. She’s crazy about him by that time, as Remy himself is. He shows her his feelings in other ways than the one she wants, to have sex with him. She wants to be close to him and yet, Remy won’t give in. He’d kiss her, make her sleep closer to him... at one of his ‘speedy’ state he even made her sleep in his bed. But there was no sex. Brooke was becoming frustrated, not knowing what’s up with him. I mean he’s known for his bad boy ways and yet, he’s not having sex with her, knowing how much she wants it from him. Brooke learns of his bad childhood and callous parents from Pete, but none of them would tell her what’s going on. What makes them so edgy when Remy is in his ‘speedy’ state? They prefer that Remy himself tells Brooke about this. Though he’d generally never talk about this with anyone, Pete thinks because of their closeness, he might confide in Brooke.
I applauded one thing about Brooke in the middle of the story. Already mentioned her dislike of Pete and Riley arranging for whores for Remy. One day, before there was the kissing and the caressing, they send for whores because Remy’s speedy-ness was getting a little out of hand, thanks to his obsession over Brooke and not having sex for sometimes. I must mention here that ever since meeting Brooke he was going without it because he wanted her but was scared to take this further. Remy wanted Brooke to want him for real and not becoming another ‘adventure with the bad boy boxer’ for another woman. He wanted this so bad that he wanted to do things the right way, even though it was hurting him. He was becoming overly possessive of Brooke, going nuts if he couldn’t find her near. When an incident goes out of hand after a match, Remy even makes it clear to his fans that Brooke is the woman for whom he plays. His loyal fans bring one rose each for her as an apology, mentioning ‘From Remy’, because he demanded they do it after a match.
Brooke, of course, hadn’t realize the depth of Remy’s yearning for her but by now, she knew there was a reason why Remy required prostitutes. She was disgusted nonetheless that they’d just bring some to take care of the matter and be done with it. So, when this happens again, Brooke sends the women away with a threat to Riley and Pete so that they never take this step ever again in future. She wanted to take care of Remy, though she had little idea what she’s dealing with here.
At one point, a frustrated Brooke puts her foot down and demands that Remy explains. And oooooh boy, he does explain to her and more... MORE!! Poor baby was so scared that she’d leave him knowing that he’s bipolar and hearing of his past bad behavior, most of those undoubtedly triggered by it. That he has certain changes in his personality, starting with his eye color when he’s having one of his bouts. That he doesn’t remember what he’s doing when he’s in that state. TBH, I don’t know much about bipolar people but this must be very scary indeed, not remembering something you’ve done, especially if it’s something really bad. But Brooke tries to assure Remy that maybe she won’t leave, and maybe they need this closeness, to be together. Remy finally gives into her persuasion and makes love to her. He was a man possessed, in and out, for Brooke. How I loved reading what he did to Brooke! *fans herself*
I do distinctly remember this:
“He brings his head to mine and feeds his tongue past my lips until I swallow my own gasps. “You wanted me.” His breaths come fast, his eyes wild. “Here I am.”
(You gotta read the whole scene) ... *faints*
...We’re abs to abs, belly button to belly button. He nuzzles his nose across my temple as he slowly caresses my ass.
“You smell of me.”
Sometimes he asks me, with cocky blue eyes and in that sexy, lust-filled murmur he uses after making love, “Do you like it when I smear your skin with me?”
(sh*t! I need to smoke!)
“Who’s your man?” he asks gruffly, and he kisses me, rubbing that cherry against my clit. “Who’s your man, baby?”
“You,” I moan.
And, of course, this:
He scents the back of my ear. Then I feel his hand, scraping down my hair, softly petting me. His tongue follows, lightly lapping the place on my neck he bit in the shower. He drags it along the curve of my shoulders, my ear, awakening every inch of my skin.
I feel like he’s a lazy lion, bathing me with his tongue, licking and nuzzling me.
*crosses her legs and shifts uncomfortably*
Oh, sorry I got distracted while re-reading... umm, back to my review.
Trouble comes in the form of Remy’s long time rival, a guy named Scorpion. He’s a jacka$$ and begins cooking up trouble because he’s the one Remy was going to compete in the final round of the big competition. One day, at one of Remy’s matches, Brooke spots her sister Nora sitting with the Scorpion’s men. She was wearing an ugly tattoo on her face, looking pale and sickly. Brooke doesn’t know what to think because obviously Nora wasn’t travelling the world as she let everyone know! When she tries to confront, Nora escapes, clearly not wanting to face Brooke. Remy, who was on the ring, fighting, messes up by running out after Brooke when some of Scorpion’s men get hold of her before she had any chance of catching Nora.
Tension fills the environment for the next couple of days. Brooke is worried about Nora. She wants talk to her, to know what’s going on but she’s informed by Pete and Riley that that’s not a good idea. Especially, when inevitably Remy hears of it. He is already too protecting of Brooke, add that with Scorpion and his men messing with her sister. Nope, definitely not good. But Brooke is determined to save Nora and not wanting to involve Remy in it, she convinces Pete and Riley to help her secretly. Knowing this is a bad idea, Pete goes with her and Melanie, who was visiting Brooke at that point. I didn’t know if I should be mad with Brooke because I knew Remy would snap seeing what happens next. Then again, it was her sister so I couldn’t blame Brooke entirely. Remy gets hurt and angry, which broke my heart all the same.
Now, have to talk about some of the things that bugged me in the story. After the second half of the story, I started disliking Brooke’s monologues (couldn’t be avoided since this is told from her POV). Too much ‘clenching’ and ‘throbbing’ was taking out the fun of the reading. Ok, so yeah, Remy is HOTTER than hell and even MORE tempting than the heaven itself. I AGREE but I still didn’t care for her clenching and throbbing much. I thought she was becoming rather a milquetoast, a big surprise (and a bummer) for me because the initial Brooke I knew was strong and smart and I liked her immediately. She begins to act wishy-washy, confused, annoying the hell outta me as if she had a total personality change!
Apart from the suspense of the story, what kept me going was definitely that one man- Remington Tate. I just wanted to gobble up any scene where he was, scenes where Brooke was less talking about her ‘clenching’ and more of Remy as an individual. Remy with his sexy smiles and moves in bed. Damn I wanted to read what’s going on inside Remy’s head! He was SO intense, that is the word that resonated in my mind every time I thought of him. And so, at the end, when Brooke does something really unforgiving, I became mad. SO FREAKIN’ MAD!!!
It happens that after his crazy confrontation with Scorpion, Remy decides to do something else for his girl, all to make her happy. He gives up the match and the championship to Scorpion, taking punches after punches and injuring himself badly. OMG, I didn’t know what was happening and it made my head spin, so I didn’t blame Brooke for hurting and becoming confused. But afterwards, she decides that she can’t see Remy ‘destroying himself’, so she leaves him, only writing a letter that doesn’t really explain anything. ‘WTF??????????????????’- was my reaction. I think I even said that out loud and wanted to beat her up! I mean WOW, and to think she kept whining how much she’s in loooove with him (in her monologues of course, not to Remy). Yet, when Remy needed her support the most, she chickens out and.......... pfft! I mean, I was disgusted, plain and simple. If you love someone, you stick to them rain or shine, not leave like she did!
After that, I had no interest in reading Brooke’s lame words on how she misses him, how her world has stopped rotating yada-yada-yada because I couldn’t believe in anything coming out of her mouth or her thoughts. I read on ONLY for Remy, to get a glimpse of him mainly. He’s the one who helps releasing Nora and bring her back to Brooke and family, all because he wanted to see her happy. Even after she left him. *sigh*
This story doesn’t have a traditional HEA but Remy does make it easier for Brooke to return to him (not that she deserved it) and pick up from where they left off.
I enjoyed reading the secondary characters too, especially Riley and Pete. Even the coach and Diane. Can’t say that about Melanie though, not very excited about her getting a book.
One other complaint, apart from Brooke’s idiocy, was the writing style. It didn’t work for me always. I understood when the author explained at the end that she wanted to keep the ‘raw narrative’ of the story but it didn’t make things easy for me. Especially when I take Brooke’s constant ‘clenching’ into consideration (here I go again... sorry but it was just that, overly repetitive). Also the various medical terms confused me a lot. I was in no mood to go for a research for those terms used throughout.
But I’d like to congratulate Katy Evans for making [b:Real|17617277|Real (Real, Raw & Ripped, #1)|Katy Evans|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1363442697s/17617277.jpg|24581234] an engrossing read even then, just because of Remy. She kept me fascinated and won me over with that one human being. I can’t wait to for [b:Mine|17792606|Mine (Real, Raw & Ripped, #2)|Katy Evans|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1377178049s/17792606.jpg|24886836] and [b:Remy|17830559|Remy (Real, Raw & Ripped, #3)|Katy Evans|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|24946137] to come out in November!!! 4 stars.
Oh let me finish by screaming:
“The one and only, Remington RIIIIIIIIIIPTIDE Tate!!!!!!!!!!!!”
PS: I read somewhere someone said that Remington is the ‘new Lion king’. Oh you girls are priceless! But I think I have to agree. lmao
I was auto-approved for this ARC by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books via edelweiss which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.