LOVE, TUSSLES, AND TAKEDOWNS (Cactus Creek #2) by Violet Duke – Review

Love, Tussles and Takedowns
Author: Violet Duke
Series: Cactus Creek
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Available: Jun 29th 2014

He’s a better fighter…

Hudson Reyes has been a fighter for as long as he can remember, with enough scars to last several lifetimes. After his combat injuries retire him from the life he wasn’t ready to give up yet, Hudson forces himself back on his feet, building a new post-military career as a fight scene and weapons specialist in the film industry, spending his carbon copy days doing what he knows best: surviving. Until he meets her. The one woman that makes him want to live again. The one woman with hidden wounds as deep as his…and a wicked roundhouse kick that almost knocks him out the day he finally learns her name.

…but she has all the weapons.

An antique arms authenticator by day and a self-defense instructor by night, Liana Lin has made a living turning the demons of her past into the passions that fuel—and fill—her life. So when the unjustly handsome man she’s been unable to get out of her head literally takes her to the mat with fighting styles unlike anything she’s ever seen, and pins her with nothing more than a molten hot stare that promises things she won’t even let herself imagine, Lia makes damn sure the barbed wire fence around her heart is closed up tight. Because if one man could find a way to disarm her carefully-built defenses, it’d be him.



“Used to be, I could handle a combat weapon with the kind of speed and precision that guys in my unit were gladly willing to trade their left nut for.” A hard edge darkened his expression for a brief moment before fading, softening when his gaze fell on her face again. “After the explosion, discovering that I wouldn’t ever have that level of fine motor control in my trigger hand again, or that I wouldn’t ever be able to fully process the feel of a weapon because of the nerve damage in my other hand…that just about destroyed me.”

He slid his hand over her skin gently. “But this—ˮ

She gasped, gripped the sheets to keep herself grounded mentally, emotionally. To keep her silly heart from acknowledging the fact that he was shattering her defenses with that one simple touch, owning her with the intense, single-minded focus his eyes held as they followed the path his fingers were tracing across her.

“I thought that was the hardest thing I’d have to get over because of my injuries. But this right here,” he whispered, leaning down to wreck even more havoc on her senses by shadowing his touch with his words, his evil, evil lips only just barely skimming her flesh. “Not being able to do all the things I want to do to you with the pace and precision I want to with this hand…” She stopped breathing when she felt his other palm smooth up the back of her thigh. “And worse, not being able feel you fully with this one…”

“Hell, Lia. That’s killing me more than you can imagine.”

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LOVE, TUSSLES AND TAKEDOWNS is available for purchase now at:
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Violet Duke has once again spun her special kind of magic and delivered an amazing story for her readers. LOVE, TUSSLES, AND TAKEDOWNS is the second full-length book in her Cactus Creek series, but can be read as a stand alone. As I said, Violet’ s style of writing always feels a bit magical to me. It’s charming, witty, and so very colorful in her descriptions I am completely drawn into the world she builds, in this case, Cactus Creek. The residents of the town itself are quirky, intrusive, close-knit, pretty much without boundaries with each other, yet loving and protective of their own. And hilarious. Did I mention hilarious? The dialogue and banter had me cracking up throughout the book.

Love, Tussles, and Takedowns features, Lia and Hudson, who really do have a lot in common and are perfect together. Both are tough as nails, extremely competitive, and also both broken, trauma survivors. They are both into martial arts and antique weapons, a little anti-social, yet have a cache of loyal friends/family who would do anything for them, because of their huge hearts and giving personalities. Being so alike helps them bond and sneak under the other’s skin because they “get” each other, but it also feeds the “they deserve better” facet. For instance, they have some pretty intense sexual attraction going between them and Lia’s all for taking that next step, but Hudson holds back because he doesn’t feel good enough. Being martial artists, they often “take it to the mat”, literally.

Hudson and Lia each go through a lot of growth in this story to get to the end, the HEA end. As they begin to trust the feelings between them, and as their love develops, they also find themselves not so guarded with the other people in their life who love them and have been waiting on the sidelines to show just how much. Lia’s brothers were perfect in their roles. I loved how they and Lia were so close they could predict each other’s behavior and played off that like a comedy routine.

Violet has taken a story line that could have been a serious downer, and respecting the issues addressed and giving them the depth they deserved, still filled it with funny, delightful and loving characters that infused just enough humor to make this book a joy to read. 4.5 stars

~Complimentary copy received in exchange for a honest review.

The Cactus Creek Series by Violet Duke:
A Little Combustible Chemistry (Cactus Creek – FREE prequel novella)
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords
Love, Chocolate, And Beer (Cactus Creek #1)
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Violet Duke - Cactus Creek banner

Cactus Creek #3: Love, Exes, and Ohs [Isaac & Xoey] — July 2014
Cactus Creek #4: Love, Sidelines, and Endzones [Grady & Sienna] — Sept 2014
Cactus Creek #5: A Little Holiday Meddling [Holiday Novella – Noah & Katelyn] — Nov 2014


NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. Her books have been Top 10 bestsellers on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble, and have been featured on IndieReader and GalleyCat as breakout hits. When she’s not writing or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, Violet enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools, trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, and cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. She lives in Hawai’i with her two cute kids (daughter Violet & son Duke) and similarly adorable husband.