Phenomenal X by Michelle A Valentine
Phenomenal X by Michelle Valentine
The blurb had me hooked and despite all the amazing words that I’ve read about Michelle’s work I am sorry to say I haven’t read one of her books – until now!!!
Based around the world of professional wrestling – the background was new to me even if the generic indications of the story weren’t. And I don’t say that as a bad thing – I mean what’s not to love about a hard as nails, bad ass fighter who fights everything and everyone to have the one thing he believes he isn’t good enough for and is determined to keep her safe no matter what.
The book centres around Xavier Cold – wrestling superstar, adored by his legions of fans and known to millions as Phenomenal X and the quiet, sheltered but feisty Anna Cortez.
The pair of them are a little bit like moths to a flame – but the attraction is reciprocated if initially not acted upon.
The story begins as twenty one year old Anna is fleeing her overbearing father and her all but arranged marriage and heading to Detroit to stay with the Aunt and cousin. Wedged in cattle class on the flight – she is the unwilling recipient of an unfortunate spillage that leaves her seriously in need of freshening up. Taking her soggy backside to the first class cabin in order to freshen up as best she can- she meets the enigma that is Xavier (Phenomenal X).
He caught her eye when he was getting on the plane and has her captivated from the get go
“There’s something about him that makes me crave to be wild and out of control. He’s like freedom, wrapped up in one sexy package. “
Xavier likes the look of this girl and is intrigued to discover that she truly has no idea who he is. Interest peaked, on both their parts, Xavier is convinced that he is no good for her and should leave well alone and Anna is absolutely certain that he is just the type of man that her father would have her run a mile to get away from. Only one small problem – as much as she refuses his advances, she knows what she feels and her running from him, only fuels his addiction and he knows that he could very quickly become addicted to her.
“I could do things to your body that most women only dream about while reading their dirty romance novels, and I promise you’d f*cking enjoy it.”
Leaving the flight, Anna discovers something that means she has no option but to see Xavier again. Coincidence – I think not! Xavier is as sharp as a tack and used his slip up to his advantage – this way he gets to see her again.
Arrangements made Anna and her cousin Quinn head out to meet Xavier that evening – all the time hoping that she can control her emotions.
Things do not go as planned and Xavier steps in when he sees that she is in danger.
The playing field is set at friendship and no more and Xavier is happy with that because he carries enough hatred and self-loathing with him to have convinced himself that there is no way he is any good for her. His feelings are enough for him to know that he needs her in his life and that she just may make him a better man if he could just let her.
Xavier’s childhood and past is far from rosy in fact it appears to have been nothing short of horrific – he feels every one of his demons inside because he has suffered at the hands of others all his life.
When we hear from the eight year old Xavier, telling how he loses his mother it is gut wrenching. I had a lump in my throat reading the events from the perspective of Xavier as a child – it was an interesting and powerful tool that the author used and made the situation seem much more realistic -well played Michelle.
Anna on the other hand is entirely on a different page. Her heart and head are both singing from the same hymn sheet and she definitely doesn’t want the friendship rules that they have in place but will take them anyway in order to spend time with the man and to get to know the good man that she can see he is inside. She has her work cut out to make her way through the gorgeous but hardened exterior.
“There’s more to me than just the persona that the public sees. There’s darkness inside me that no one should have to experience, and that’s what I’m trying to protect you from. No one should have to live with my demons but me.”
The story gathers along at a pace and whilst it looks like neither of them are going to get their way, the friendship rules allow us to see them getting to know each other – good and bad decisions are made on both sides but ultimately there is never any doubt which way they will end up going. There is just something about the pair of them that is just so very touching.
Xavier is everything you think he shouldn’t be, a messed up bad boy with a hidden heart of gold – who despite the world conspiring against him has found his way in world and carved out a superstar career for himself. Content to be the ultimate alpha male, his persona is just a continuation of the storyline, meted out to the wrestlers for them to perform in the ring, the real Xavier Cold is a sweet, caring, damage man who doesn’t know why of everyone around him- he doesn’t want but need Anna
“I love you, Anna, no matter what happens next,” I whisper. “And I always will.” Tears continue to flow from her beautiful green eyes, but she gives me a slight smile. “I’ll love you forever.”
The relationship between the two of them is far from organic, it was chemical from the very beginning, fought from both sides initially but one where nature was always going to win out in the end.
Both characters are ultimately endearing, Anna can give as good as she gets and is willing to fight for her man but to earn her place by his side.
The subsidiary characters are colourful - I especially liked Quinn, she had a lot going for her so I hope she is in the next novel.
The end of the book is a bit of a cliff hanger but they hanging together and I have everything crossed that we will see them safely through to the other side of the journey they have left to make together.
“I close my eyes and pray I haven’t just done something that will destroy us forever.”