Review of ‘The Clinch’ by Nicole Disney
Well, well, well… What a spectacular wlw sports book! 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 an incredible treat.
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 in 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 to 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 completely enthralled by this book as it became a complete page-turner from the very first page. 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, 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.
If you are a sports fan, this will be up your street, if you aren’t, read it for the romance, it’s passionate and hot. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. I really cannot fault this book. 5+ stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.