The Clinch by Nicole Disney, narrated by Keira Grace
The Clinch by Nicole Disney

The Clinch by Nicole Disney, narrated by Keira Grace

The audiobook version didn’t meet my expectations fully

When this novel was released, I have to admit that I wasn’t convinced of reading a novel about Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting even with the promise of a lesbian romance but I’m so delighted that I did because it was my favourite book of 2021. Since then I was hoping it would be released as an audiobook so I got it as soon as it was available.


Eden Bauer came a long way from a traumatic childhood to become the undisputed UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) featherweight champion. That is until new Martial Artist Brooklyn Shaw appears on the sports scene trying to dispute her title. But what starts as an aggressive rivalry soon changes into something completely different. Can Eden fall in love with her fiercest competitor?

I love a wide range of sports to practice and watch but Martial Arts are not one of them. As a matter of fact, I hate violent sports like boxing, wrestling, and… MMA. However, I was utterly enthralled by this book as it became a complete page-turner from the beginning. Ms. Disney is a Martial Artist herself but there’s a huge difference between being proficient at a sport and being able to describe it with precision so the reader can form a picture in their mind’s eye. And even a bigger gap to make the reader have the full experience of the sport from the athlete’s point of view, to empathise with their struggles, their sacrifices and to feel their pain. Reading the fighting scenes was like reading an action story, fast-paced and exciting. That is what makes this novel shine.

The story is told in first person from Eden’s point of view, which was a great choice as the reader can immerse into a champion’s headspace and experience a high-performance athlete’s frame of mind. As readers, we get behind her dreams and experience her biggest fears. The exclusive pov also helps to keep Brooklyn as an enigma to both Eden and the reader. A mystery to unpack and reveal as the story progresses.

Talking about Brooklyn, who is half Brazilian and half American, I was worried that the author wouldn’t manage to portray her with authenticity. As an Argentinean, I know our next-door neighbours quite well and I have to say that Ms. Disney depicted her perfectly in her body language, the forwardness about her feelings, her religiousness, and her strong sense of family. That leads me to point out that the secondary characters were all well rounded and each one of them played a particular role in the plot like an extended family, which made the story rich and multifaceted.

I gave this book 5+ stars but I’m afraid I can’t repeat the same rating for the audiobook. As much as I liked Keira Grace narrating other books, such as Michelle Larkin’s Secret Agent, I don’t think she’s a good fit for this one. I didn’t like Brooklyn’s voice and the accents for both mains weren’t convincing considering their backgrounds and places they lived. Additionally, and I know I’m a bit pedantic, her pronunciation of Portuguese isn’t convincing either, though most people won’t care. Maybe I was expecting too much from the audiobook but I’m afraid it didn’t meet my expectations fully. The story is superb so it’s worth a listen anyway. 4 stars.

Length: 8 hours, 34 minutes

The Clinch by Nicole DisneyThe Clinch by Nicole Disney

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