When Ava Beckinsale’s parents discover their daughter’s attraction to women, they decide a radical medical treatment is the only way to fix her.
When Ava finds out what’s really happening during her sessions with the doctor, she runs to the only friend she has left, a retired MMA fighter.
With his help, Ava will reach for the only thing that hasn’t been stripped away: her dream of forging her own career in MMA.
Where the only things that matter are the strength of your character, the size of your heart and whether you have the courage to get back up when you’ve been knocked down.
Despite everything she’s endured, her true test will begin in the Cage. To conquer it, and everything life will throw at her, she’ll have to learn: sometimes your biggest opponent is yourself.
This is book two in the undisputed series and after reading about gorgeous, tough MMA fighter Owen, I did not think it would be possible for the series to get better but this book manages easily. Unbroken features everything including fighting, forbidden love, hatred, friendship, violence, abuse, angst and the journey of self-discovery. But this book is not your traditional love story. In fact it is the best type of love story, it is the one where you learn to love yourself. This book features quite a lot of trigger points including domestic violence, sexual abuse, prejudicial hatred and lesbian romance and sex. If any of these are not your cup of tea or may offend you then you may not want to read this, but honestly whilst some of these things are never easy to read about they very much did enhance the story.
Ava Beckinsale was raised in a good Christian background, where her parents had exceptionally strict standards and expectations for her. They did not support her dream of becoming a fighter. Instead they just wanted her to find a good man to marry, who would look after her and provider for her while she takes care of the house and has children. At the young age of 17, Ava knew what the future was for her and that wasn’t it. She knew that she was gay and has always had feelings for women instead of men. Then she starts up a secret relationship with her childhood best friend Jasmine. At the same time she is training at her local gym with ex-MMA fighter Ruben who becomes a great friend to Ava. When Ava and Jasmine’s sexual relationship is discovered at their school, both of their parents are informed and this sets off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.
Ava’s parents believe that she is doing the devil’s work and will go to hell if her attitude does not change. A gay conversion doctor is recommended to them and they take Ava to receive treatment. She goes weekly to see him, takes tablets and then is injected with an unknown substance that makes her feel woozy and relaxed. The doctor then uses hypnosis to try to change Ava’s sexuality. Until one session Ava forgets to take her medication and finds out the true extent of the ‘care’ she is receiving. Feeling betrayed by the doctor she rushes to tell her mum who says she already knows that the doctor is using less than scientific ways to see if Ava reacts sexually to a man. So after arguing with her mum Ava runs away to Ruben and his boyfriend Chris and they agree to take Ava in. They support her and when Ava says she wants to train as a fighter they agree to be her trainers. She progresses quickly and eventually finds herself in her first professional match. But instead of being against a low ranking opponent, because of several scandals and declining interest in the women’s division, she ends up facing her personal hero and undisputed female champion for several year, Veronica Nash. Nash is expected to trample newbie Ava and so the world is shocked when scrappy Ava puts up a good fight and although Nash wins, they both end up in the hospital.
Jasmine has not has an easy life. Since her relationship with Ava was discovered, her family moved away believing that Ava was the one corrupting Jasmine. They sent her to church classes and forced her into dating boys. Adam is picked for Jasmine and they are thrown together at church camp. They grow close and Jasmine tells him about her past. He say that he is understanding and cares for her still but Jasmine continues to struggle to cope and turns to self-harm as an outlook for the pain. Her parents force her relationship with Adam to progress and they begin seriously dating. He makes it clear that he wants sex from Jasmine. She holds out saying that she doesn’t want sex before marriage. With her parents’ consent Adam then tells her that they are getting married without even asking her. What results is a very unhappy marriage filled with abuse and violence. Jasmine’s only relief is when she thinks of a happier time with Ava. So when she sees Ava has been admitted to hospital after the fight she is determined to find her and make sure she is alright.
This book is presented as a love story between Ava and Jasmine but it is not. We do get glances into their first love and how they deal with it, and their feelings are beautiful to witness. Also seeing how they find their way back to each other was great. But when they do find each other again their relationship doesn’t flourish like they hope. They both realise that they have grown a lot over the years and their needs and dreams are no longer aligned. But they need to come back together for closure. Jasmine needed to see that it is alright for her to feel the way that she does and that she does not have to conform just to meet the expectations of her parents. Whereas Ava learns that she is a fighter and always will be. She needs to stand up for what she believes in, fight through the pain and humiliation, and learn to accept and love the person she is. Watching Ava learn to be brave and love herself was something extraordinary. It inspired me and made me want to be a fighter in life, which is a powerful thing for words to do.
This book is full of fantastic characters that I love. Ava was so inspiring, tough and passionate but she was also afraid and lost, which made her a very relatable person. The pain she has faced in her past was heart-breaking but she uses that to give her strength which is inspiring. Jasmine was so unhappy with her life but she did not have the fight that Ava had. She chose to conform to her parents’ wishes and this resulted in her becoming meek, depressed and generally very lost. But with Ava’s helps she fights back, learns to accept who she is and get her sparkle and strength back which is great to see. I loved both Ruben and Chris and the way that they took Ava in almost as their adopted daughter. They supported her, showed her love and stood by her to help her achieve her dream. But they also had their own backstories and flawed personalities. They too go on a journey in this book and having Ava in their life is something special.
We also get a small catch up with Owen Gasnier and Tegan’s best friend Fiona, from the first book, as there is a little crossover between the two books that just reminded me of how kind and awesome Owen is. Then there is Veronica Nash. She is painted throughout the book as a cold heartless villain because that is the role that the fight promoters need her to play, but we got to see a different side of her. She is someone who is focused on fighting as it is all she has in her life, no friends, family or a life outside of fighting. But really she is lonely, she feels guilt and admiration towards Ava after the fight. She is an awful lot more than what we see in the fight promotion and personally I would love to see Nash get her own book and happiness. I also loved Ava’s dad who was willing to admit his mistakes and put to love he has for his daughter before his beliefs.
While there was a lot of characters that I loved this book also featured a lot of characters that you cannot help but hate. Ava’s parents hid behind their Christian belief and allowed her to be subjected to hatred rather than supporting their children for who they really are. Ava’s mother who knew about the pain Ava has been subjected to, but was too worried about her social standing within the church, that she allowed it to happen. I cannot possibly understand her positioning and Speer did a fantastic job of making me hate her along with the evil perverted doctor. He claimed his methods were in the name of science but he abused the position of trust and this I cannot possibly understand. You go to a doctor for help and you put your trust in them, so for them to break that trust it is awful. But no character did I hate more than Jasmine’s partner Adam. He was a sexist pig that not only had an archaic view of what the role of a wife entailed, but I hated the fact that he saw Jasmine as his property and that he felt he had the right to have rough sex with her whenever he wanted, was completely disgusting. His behaviour as an abuser could not have made me hate him more and I think that this book very much makes sure he gets what he deserves.
Overall, I could not love this book any more. I did not think that it would be possible to enjoy this book as much as I did the first, but actually it was so much better. What is so fantastic about this book is that it is full of beautifully written words that will empower and give the reader inspiration whilst making them feel so much. Aaron L Speer is a fantastic author who has the power to drag emotions out of you that you never even saw coming. This book is a rollercoaster ride that you will love. I do hope there is more in this series.
Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
This book is available for Free on Kindle Unlimited or can be purchased here:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2YCK516