Book Review: Stacked Up by Sidney Halston

I feel like these books just keep getting better as the series goes on, and even when I have issues with them, I still have a really hard time tearing myself away.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
An MMA fighter falls for a single mother who’s hiding from her ultra-religious stepfather, despite the fact that the doesn’t want kids. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Going Out On Her Own
Penny ran away from her stepfather a year ago after he’d put her in a home for pregnant women when someone who worked for him convinced her to sleep with him. As a television evangelist, her stepfather cares more about his image than her, and she no longer wants anything to do with that life. So she heads to Tarpon Springs with her baby to start a new life, difficult as it may be. She has to hold two jobs and can still barely make ends meet. Luckily, she has people willing to help her out, but it doesn’t keep her from feeling lonely and helpless.

The Anti-Kid Hero
Travis has had a thing for Penny ever since she showed up in town. Though he doesn’t admit it to anyone, he’s kept an eye out for her since she started working at the local bar he patronizes. Even though she opens up to him one night and cries on his shoulder, he still doesn’t know much about her. So when he finds out she has a daughter (after they’ve slept together), he’s shocked and hurt that she never shared that detail.

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Of course, part of the reason she didn’t share is because Travis spends an inordinate amount of time talking about how doesn’t like kids and doesn’t want any. It’s kind of understandable why she’s hesitant, and I’m usually the one who champions being up front at the beginning about these things.

Maybe Not All Kids
When the father of her child shows back up, a tool being used by her stepfather to get her back, Travis helps Penny and Belle regardless of the fact that he’s said he doesn’t want a kid in his life. It’s not long before he falls in love with both of them and does everything he can to make sure Penny’s family problems go away (short of murder). I thought I’d be annoyed by the way I knew the plot was going to unfold. I mean, duh, we know he’s going to eventually accept them both, right? But honestly? I loved how it was written and how despite his protests, Travis actually seemed to love Belle before he did Penny. I mean, there was affection there, but the connection he formed with the little girl was really sweet.

The Romance Factor
I loved the way Travis takes care of Penny, and though I got annoyed with his constant back and forth on wanting to take care of her and wanting to be mad at her for not telling him about Belle, I could also understand his feelings on the matter. The romance was particularly strong in the protectiveness he showed her and the care she showed him, taking care of him and supporting him in a way no one had before (also, Travis had mom issues, which figured into his reluctance to get into a real relationship). 4/5

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The Steam Factor
The sexy times are not super frequent but they’re super hot when they happen. 5/5

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed Travis and Penny’s story and it was nice seeing the couples from the other books in the series, especially Enzo and JL from the last book who have twins of their own in this one. The MMA fighting isn’t prevalent though, so if you’re looking for a lot of fighting, it’s there, but not frequent. Still a great read with flawed but likable characters.

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