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Paradise Stories #1

Paradise Fought: Abel

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Abel Callahan has second son syndrome. He’s never thought he measured up to his famous boxing brother, so he’s on a mission to change everything about himself. When a chance encounter finds the girl of his dreams in a financial bind, Abel has an idea: teach me how to date. Her assistance could not only open doors for him, it could open his heart to love.

Elma Montgomery has always had it all, until she doesn’t. She wants retribution for what’s been lost to her and desperation turns to poor decisions: money for a fake relationship. It wasn’t supposed to become anything more. Their friendship was a means to an end, until her heart got in the way.

When love and revenge go up against each other, it’s the toss of a coin - heads or hearts?

This new adult college romance retells one of the oldest tales of brother against brother in the fight for love. If you like a strong alpha male, a determined heroine and boxing matches, then you’ll root for this fake relationship to turn into a true romance.

** Originally published in 2016 as Paradise Fought: Abel

300 pages, Paperback

First published January 25, 2016

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About the author

L.B. Dunbar

79 books2,833 followers
USA TODAY Bestselling Author
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L.B. Dunbar loves flip flops, sweet tea, and a little heat in her romance reads. A lover of sexy silver foxes, second chances, and small towns, you’ll find all this and more in her signature work the #sexysilverfox collection. She’s also made Amazon Top 10 in Later in Life Romance with her Lakeside Cottage and Road Trips & Romance series. L.B. lives in Chicago with her own sexy silver fox.

To stay up-to-date about the self-proclaimed queen of silver fox romance, join her on Facebook at Loving L.B. or receive her monthly newsletter, Love Notes.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 134 reviews
Profile Image for Yelena Bosh.
402 reviews41 followers
February 9, 2016

Who knew I'd fall in love with an MMA fighter who isn't the typical alpha. No, this one is almost the opposite. Sweet, shy, lack of confidence.. But what makes Abel's character anything but a follower? He doesn't want to be his brothers shadow anymore. He went through so much growing up, especially verbal abuse that played one of the biggest roles in his current mindset..

That background to Abel's life is a strong factor that influences the way he grows throughout the story..

He has such heartfelt possessive tenancies towards what he wants, what he needs to make his own, that it literally makes you grin like an idiot because you knew there was some sort of alpha in him ;) He might be sweet and not confident when it comes to "flirting" with girls but he knows what he has to make it. Being an MMA fighter and a great one at that also doesn't hurt in busting that confidence up..

Abel has a heart of gold. We see that from the very beginning and how it progresses throughout the story. He is one of those characters that makes your heart melt at the same time that you blush from the dominance that you can only ever wish was more than just on the pages.. *sigh*

From the very beginning we get a very soulful vibe between those two. Elma, from the very first pages, has an aura of darkness to her. I don't know how to put into words. It's just this feeling of sadness and emotional heartbreak from not only her brothers death but from the way the author almost made me tear up at the way Elma portrayed her future intentions.

From tears and pain, to the strongest sort of emotion that it seems only Abel from able to immediately witness through her eyes. I loved the continuous atmospheres that were created that somehow, in my point of view, exuded a contradiction. For example, at the very beginning we get Abel meeting a girl in the pouring rain, at a place that is meant to have all the elements that make it a worth while holiday; a place away from the stressful reality of life. BUT the only thing those two seem to be given? Grief. Sadness. Tears. Heartbreak. Darkness.

This continues throughout the story, which not only made it an addictive read but it added a realistic element that further connected the reader with the characters and the story they were developing..

One part that I wasn't so in love with, the minor element of lack of mystery. I mean, I wouldn't be addicted to a story or give it a near perfect review if I didn't love it. I just felt that maybe some aspects that were talked about earlier weren't foreshadowing future events.. This is completely my opinion, and maybe I've just read too many MMA stories, but I just wish there was simply more surprise in a few parts of the story. OTHER THAN THAT? I. Loved. It. Can I have my very own Abel please? Wouldn't mind showing up at his practice.. uhm.. session.. :P

As mentioned, I've read my fare share of MMA stories, which next to MC is one of my favorite genres - if done well. And PARADISE FOUGHT:ABEL? Hands down in the DONE VERY WELL category :)

Now, the waiting game for the next one..

Thank you L.B. Dunbar for providing an ARC of this beautiful dark, soulful, heartbreaking and sexy read. I couldn't have asked for a better addictive read on my Monday ;)

Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,833 reviews143 followers
January 24, 2016
I always know when I start a L.B. Dunbar text that I'm going to get a well written story that has dynamic and complex characters who are constantly changing and growing as their story line progresses, and that's exactly what Dunbar delivers in her newest book, Abel.

Abel and Elma have always felt second best, standing in the shadows of their older brothers, but now they both need to stand on their own and make their own way, but they’re not quite clear on how to achieve that when it seems like there’s too many forces going against them.

Abel is determined to prove that he's capable and worthy of love and respect. He’s tired of feeling confined to his solitary existence because it’s done nothing but make him feel alone and insecure. In order to recreate himself, Abel works to make a name for himself away from his controlling father and prize fighting brother. But in order to step out of his brother’s shadow, he’s going to have to prove his worth and force people to SEE him, starting with Elma Montgomery.

Elma’s once fairy tale life has now spiraled out of control, forcing her to make decisions and take risks that could tear her world even further apart. Elma has one objective and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to seek the retribution she desires, even if it means living up to the rumors about her and using people to further her mission.

In a strange turn of events, Abel and Elma’s paths lead them towards each other, and although they don't quite know what to make of one another and where they might fit into each other's lives, they're in for the toughest fight of their lives where the winner may have to sacrifice more than they're willing to in order to get the results that they want.

The most intriguing aspect of L.B. Dunbar’s writing is her method of taking a classical tale and putting her own spin on it in a way that gives it new meaning. It’s easy to see throughout Abel that Dunbar alludes to the well known biblical tale of Cain vs. Abel, but this story is about so much more than brother vs. brother; in fact, the distance and disdain between Abel and Cain is not of their own doing but amplified by a controlling force that refuses to let either one of the brothers break free from its hold.

I also love the idea of Abel learning to be ABLE to stand on his own, pave his own way, and feel in control of his life and who he chooses to have in it because even though he may personify the Betta fish, Abel doesn’t want to remain isolated and unloved.

Abel’s transformation will only truly occur when he becomes the warrior he’s meant to be with the woman he loves standing by him and truly seeing him for the great man he is.

A complimentary copy was accepted in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 Poison Apples (The Fairest of All Book Reviews)
Profile Image for Amy .
2,758 reviews
January 30, 2016
5 fighter stars!!

"Your heartbeat matches mine."

"This will be the greatest fight ever fought." "Brother against brother." "A fight to the death." " All for love."

What a brilliant, brilliant read!! One of the first things that caught my attention regarding this book was the cover. And if you know me, you know just how much I love a book cover. And this one, just intrigued me. It made me want to read the synopsis and find out more. And once I read that synopsis, I knew I had to read this book.

Now, as a fan of L.B. Dunbar’s work, I know I’m about to experience something rather extraordinary. See, one of the things I love about this author’s work is how she takes a story that we all know and love and not only gives it a modern twist, but she puts her own unique spin on it. And this book does not disappoint. Paradise Found: Abel, follows the story of Abel and Elma. Told from dual points of view, this story pulls you in from the very first page and you will find yourself unable to put it down. From the moment I encountered both Abel and Elma, I wanted to know more about them. They had amazing chemistry and I found myself instantly captivated and intrigued by them. Each of them had their own demons to battle and never realized just how their paths would cross. I loved watching them fall in love; despite everything. I loved seeing them overcome their challenges and life’s expectations and face those demons head on.

What else can I say about this book? This book is totally unique and very entertaining. The story-line is intriguing and the characters are impossible to not fall in love with. There is action and romance. There is angst and drama. There is pretty much something for everyone. It’s swoony and sexy and just leaves you begging for more. And in the end you are left with that “Wow, that was an awesome read” feeling! This series is off to an amazing start and I can’t wait to dive into the next book!

* I was provided with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
576 reviews19 followers
October 21, 2016
This is so, SO much more than an MMA Fighter book. LB Dunbar has proven her "chops" over and over again, and Paradise Fought is proof that this woman can write anything.

Reading this book was a thrilling event. An event people! It was so easy to relate to Abel; unnoticed, under-appreciated, and unloved man that just wants to find his place. Don't you ever feel that way? I sure as heck have.

Abel is a beautiful combination of gentleness and ferocity that made my heart ache and my toes curl. He lacks nothing as a character. And, the thing I love about Abel is that he is such an individual. At no time did a character from another book pop into my head for comparison. You know what I'm talking about; sometimes characters from different books (especially from the same author) share characteristics or quirks that seem to establish the author's style. LB Dunbar has style, by the truck load, but she has no set style (Unless flawless and beautiful counts??).

Elma, oh girl! I wanted to hate you, or at least dislike you. Vengeance is not the answer!! but I get it, I do. You were hurting and you had to blame someone. And as much as I tried to stay stoic and #TeamAbel, I could feel your pain and I wanted relief for you.

Elma and Abel's relationship is certainly a rocky one; as is the case when secrets are kept. They go through hell seeking what they *think* they most desire and hurt each other beyond belief along the way.

I was enthralled. I fell in love. I was broken and put back together.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Talkbooks.
79 reviews10 followers
January 22, 2016
~~*:Reviewed by Angela:*~~

Abel, is the Beta, the warrior. This book is his story, his battle.

Abel is the second son. The lesser son. The son who's been over looked and discarded his whole life by an abusive father who could never see him past his holder brother.
Cain vs. Abel, since the day he was born. Abel has been invisible to more then just his father. The girl that always had a way of holding his attention didn't seem to know he existed. When the day comes that he's able to be Elma's white knight, he steps in and in turn she is "hired" to help him be seen, be noticed by women. Although it's beyond me how anyone could miss this sexy Beta.

"You never saw me, Elma, even when I was right in front of you. Maybe it's because I've always been right behind you. I've always been having your back, when all you have is concern for me."

But their history is more complex. There is bad blood between their families. But the pull between Abel and Elma is just too strong to ignore.

"Your heart beat matches mine," he breathed against skin damp from desire. While the rapid pace matched his, I wasn't sure we beat in time with emotion. I knew what I felt for him. Abel Callahan just won the fight to own my heart."

The love between Abel and Elma has a lot of twists and turns but the one thing that was never in question was their chemistry.

"His lips were eager; his tongue aggressive. Betta had entered this ring and was ready to continue the fight."

But the battle for Elma's heart isn't his only fight. Cain...the brother that got everything, the fathers first son, the only one that protected him at all cost, might just be the biggest fight of his life.

"Our names hung in the air. Biblical and rich in history, we stood as fated brothers. We did not control our destiny. For my part, it was love that fated me."

There are so many great lines in this book I wish I could have listed them all! There is love and hate and smokin hot steamy chemistry! There is history and pain, regret and resentment. There is closure and still many questions, I enjoyed the story of Abel and now I'm am looking forward to more!!
Profile Image for Karen Hrdlicka.
1,108 reviews22 followers
January 4, 2016
Storytelling is an art, and LB Dunbar is a master storyteller. I have read everything Ms. Dunbar has written and I am always wanting to read more. I have never read a book set in the fight world but after reading Paradise Fought: Abel that may change. Elma and Abel's story is beautifully told and grabs the reader's heartstrings and refuses to let go. Ms. Dunbar creates well developed characters that act and react well with each other, and the story flows well.
As readers, we often seek out books about alpha males, thinking them to be the superior of the male species. Ms. Dunbar's story shows that betas are equally as alluring as any alpha male. Like all beta males, Abel has to work harder for everything in his life. His father appears to despise him and favor his older brother, Cain. His brother has protected him from his father's wrath for years, but Abel wants to change his life. Seeking to make his way in the fight world, he starts fighting in an underground ring in college. He also wants to make his way into the world of women and their pleasures. Little does he know that when Elma reappears in his life, many things will change. They sensually dance around each other as they spar to gain the upper hand in their budding relationship.
The relationship between Elma and Abel is tenuous at first, and then takes off like a rollercoaster. Their journey is full of twists and turns. There are unexpected events that test both Elma and Abel. Their relationship is, at times, hot and sexy and then cool and distant. Family secrets are revealed and Cain may have a secret or two of his own. I am anxious to read Cain's book to get the rest of the story.

Profile Image for Alicia.
342 reviews
February 2, 2016
Paradise Fought: Abel by L.B. Dunbar is a great read. It gave a new twist to both MMA stories and New Adult. Honestly, it was refreshing.

Abel is an up and coming MMA fighter. He is used to being put down and overlooked by this abusive father. Unfortunately (or fortunately for him), his older brother, Cain, took the brunt of the abuse, but also the praise, attention, and training to become a successful MMA fighter. Abel is training in secret, to prove, not just to his father, but to himself that he is worthy. Because of his upbringing, Abel is socially awkward, especially around girls. So when he runs into the girl of his dreams, Elma, he can't resist swooping in to save her. But not without a price. He needs her to teach him how to interact and pick up girls.

Elma is more than what is seen on the surface. She has a reputation for being easy, and she uses it to her advantage. She has a secret agenda of her own and needs to break into the underground fighting scene. Abel is an unwelcome complication in her life, but even she has to admit that he is always swooping in to save her at the right moments.

I loved the growth that we see from Abel. He really comes into his own and starts to have a quiet confidence about him. He actually starts to grow a backbone. His one flaw would be that he is so self doubting. It is embedded into his mind and he has a terrible time letting it go. On the flip side, Elma learns a lesson in letting go of her issues and and facing facts. These two characters complimented each other perfectly. Reading about them getting to know each other and falling in love was so great. Book 2 is Cain's story, if this book is anything to go by, it is going to be awesome!
Profile Image for Fiction  Conviction Book Blog.
46 reviews42 followers
January 10, 2016
Abel – wow! It is so refreshing to read about a strong, tough fighter who is a beautiful person inside and out, and not an overbearing alpha. And this is why Abel was so easy to love! I fell in love with Abel: all his insecurities, loyalty and fiercely protective nature.

This was a wonderful story of two people who had suffered, and in so many ways managed to save each other. There were a lot of emotions in this story, and Abel’s point of view in particular could suck me in completely every time. I was always on the side of Abel and Elma throughout the trials they went through, although there were a couple of times when things could’ve been resolved between them had they talked.

I was also intrigued by Abel’s brother, Cain, and I’m so happy to see that his story will be released this year also!! I highly recommend this book, and LB Dunbar!
Profile Image for Philomena Callan Cheekypee.
3,907 reviews397 followers
January 25, 2016
It's been a while since I read an MMA story so this was a lovely refreshing read for me.

Abel and Elma- I totally loved these two characters. Abel came across as strong yet caring. Like many siblings Abel wants to be known as himself and not as a younger brother. He's also fed up of being ignored. Elma has her own problems to deal with. Love the chemistry between these two.

This is a really beautiful and well written story. The storyline is relatable and the characters are portrayed as real. I love how the author made me feel so many different emotions while reading this.

I'm so looking forward to reading more of this series.
Highly recommend this read.
January 20, 2016
Paradise Fought: Abel was an angsty, emotional, unique tale about unlikely love and overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles. I absolutely loved that this wasn't a typical MMA/college novel with predictable characters and an even more predictable storyline. Rather than showcase an alpha male who was an over-confident womanizer, LB Dunbar wrote about a beta who yearned to rise above what was expected of him and shatter his image. The author threw some great twists into the story, and I loved that. I enjoy when things surprise me as I am reading; it keeps me hooked into the story like nothing else. This was a fantastic underdog story that kept me hooked the whole way through.

LB Dunbar knows how to write characters that the reader will fall in love with. Thrown together by fate and circumstance, Abel and Elma were both complex characters who were driven by different things. They were different in so many ways, yet alike in others, and developed a great connection that blossomed into an incredible love. I will admit, I was a bit torn about how I felt about Elma at first. She came across as somewhat shallow in the beginning of the story, and I felt that she was unnecessarily mean to Abel at times. I get that she was still grieving the loss of her brother, but the confusing signals that she was giving off were frustrating. As the story went on, I began to like her more and more, and began to better understand her and what drove her. She was thrust into a difficult situation due to her brother's choices, and was forced to handle things the best way she could. Abel, oh my, how I loved his character. He was so sweet, so charming in his own unique way, and the infatuation he had with Elma was so incredibly endearing. He did not have an easy life, due to an emotionally abusive father. He spent his entire life in the shadow of Cain, his older, stronger brother, and was determined to change his path in life and make himself into more than second best. I loved his passion and his drive to achieve what he wanted in life: to prove himself a formidable fighter both in and out of the rink.

Abel and Elma were a pair that truly had the odds stacked against them. The two of them are so sweet and perfect when they are together, just the two of them without any outside factors. Unfortunately, their circumstances, the tie between their families, hidden truths, and numerous miscommunications prevented them from solidifying their bond for so long during the story. I found myself so frustrated at times, whenever something would happen that would cause a miscommunication, but at the same time I knew that they had to struggle and overcome the many barriers placed between them in order to find true happiness with each other.

I loved how things ended for Abel and Elma, and I loved seeing them finally happy together. The author did a great job setting things up for Cain's book, which I cannot wait to read. The issues with Abel's family are far from resolved, and I can't wait to see where the author will take things next. Abel and Cain's father is an evil, abusive, controlling man who uses his sons to his own benefit, and I have a feeling his wrath will only grow further in the next book. I am dying to figure out what is happening between Cain and Sofie, and I know that their story will be an amazing one. Overall this was a great, angsty, well-written book that I really enjoyed reading. Above all it was a heartwarming and at times heartbreaking story about two lost souls who found love and happiness against all odds.
Profile Image for Becca.
687 reviews48 followers
February 24, 2016
4.5 Stars - L.B. Dunbar dives into a new series with Paradise Fought: Abel, a New Adult/MMA Romance. Abel is tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, determined to make a name for himself, when Elma crosses his path. Both of them carry secrets with the power to destroy the other, but their unlikely connection is hard to ignore when life seems to keep throwing them together. L.B. Dunbar has cultivated a truly unique chemistry with this couple. Although their situations are markedly different, Abel and Elma seem to share a similar pain. Inevitably drawn to the kindred spirit they discover in one another, this couple feels fated in a way I can’t quite explain. From the start I found myself rooting for them, even without knowing where this book was headed or what secrets they harbored. Paradise Fought shines with colorful imagery and thoughtful prose, allowing the readers to easily lose themself in Abel and Elma’s story. L.B. Dunbar artfully delivers a journey of heartache, loss, destiny, suspense, revenge, family, and love that will make you laugh, think, and feel deeply.

Abel was such a contradiction and I absolutely loved that about him. As the second son, Abel has been led to his role as the socially awkward nerdy college student. But there’s a fire inside of him that comes out when he fights, a passion that burns through the box his family has put him in. L.B. Dunbar did a great job depicting this inner struggle and allowing this character to grow into his own as the story and his relationship with Elma progressed. Drowning in pain and consumed by the need for revenge, it was impossible to tell what kind of person Elma really was in the beginning. I found myself wanting to yell at her for being so blind to the life that kept moving on around her while she clung to her feelings of loss and devastating grief. L.B. Dunbar slowly transformed this character through her relationship with Abel, eventually developing her into a character that readers could not only relate to but invest in.

L.B. Dunbar’s writing continues to surprise me with its intelligence and growth. With each new project her writing style becomes more refined, developing a voice that is distinctively hers. One of the things I’ve really come to love from L.B. Dunbar’s writing is the multitude of layers throughout her storylines. She weaves history, lore, and life experience into her own imagined world to create something truly captivating that feels fresh and yet fondly familiar. The beginning of the story was a tad slow with all of the groundwork that had to be laid down, but it quickly picked up as Abel and Elma’s relationship started to evolve. As always, L.B. Dunbar includes a multitude of secondary characters that are intriguing in their own right. I have so many questions about their relationships and what role they’ll play in this series. Paradise Fought: Abel is intense, emotional, and full of surprises. A New Adult novel to the core, L.B. Dunbar serves up plenty of angst, steam, vulnerability and moments of self-discovery with Abel and Elma’s story.
January 9, 2016
"I'd been fighting the wrong fight. Without realising it, the thing I needed to fight for wasn't in the ring. It was in my heart."

Choosing his underground name as he feels a connection to the solitary Siamese fighting fish Betta is the new and talented fighter, the one to watch. Hiding in plain sight, Abel is the unseen brother, using his ambiguity to his favour he has started to put the wheels in motion to move lit from underneath his brother's shadow. Damaged by a childhood devoid of love in an conventional sense Abel is reserved and inexperienced in social situations. Raised by his father who changed his focus from being the best fighter to raising the best fighter, Abel feels he is not worthy. Told repeatedly he would never be good enough Abel has devised a plan to prove to his father that he is just as capable as his older brother.

Elma is floundering. After the death of her brother during a fight in the ding she has been left picking up the pieces. Struggling to make ends meet and care for her mother who has just herself in alcohol due to her grief and depression, Elma is close to giving up. Falling apart at the seems she is using her dancing talent to make the rent but is devastated when her tuition fees have been squandered by her mother. An offer she can't refuse changes her plans and sets her on a new path in her life. But rules are meant to be broken and Elma learns a lot about herself as she tries to teach Abel how to be the perfect woman magnet.

This story is rich with imagery and the language techniques used creates an air of mystery. The lead protagonists are complex, damaged by their upbringings and their current circumstances, both fighting to make the next day better than the last. Elma has her heart set for revenge but for all the wrong reasons, lashing out and not dealing with her grief and loss. Yet she isn't exactly who she pretends to be. Abel, wears his heart on his sleeve, he's desperate to be accepted as he is. He wants to be loved and told he is good enough. The extreme lengths he is willing to go to show how determined he is to gain approval. His family...I have a feeling their resolution will come in the next book when we get Cain's story. Briefly touched upon Abel is his mother's son and earned his father's hatred for nothing other than the resemblance. This is story filled with angst, drama and heart break.

A four star read.

~*~ Obsessed by Books copy given in exchange for an honest review ~*~
Profile Image for Nerdy Dirty & Flirty.
3,985 reviews327 followers
January 24, 2016

"Brother against brother...
A fight to the death...
All for love"

Abel is the second son, the unimportant son, the weak son, never receiving anyone's affections. He lived in his brother's shadow and with his father's iron fists. Until he is out to prove he can be something too, he can be a fighter and make people notice that he exists. He just needs a little help and when opportunity arises, Elma is going to be the one to help him get noticed.

"a ray of sunshine beneath the dark waters."

Elma is trying to pick up the broken pieces her brother left behind. Her mother is a disaster, her life has changed and she has one single goal...revenge. In order to get her revenge she lets her growing reputation get her noticed, just unfortunately for her, not by the right person. She is going to become Abel's tutor and things are about to get messy.

"I couldn't breathe, literally. His kiss stole my oxygen."

They have rules that are about to get broken. Hiding behind feelings and secrets, Abel and Elma muddle through their next year in college. One trying to get answers and the other trying to become something more. The story is riddled with misunderstandings and intense attraction. Both of them are looking for different things and miss what is right in front of them. Abel has a
painful past and becoming a fighter is his only focus until he is paired up with his brother, his protector, someone who is also hiding behind secrets. Elma wanted one thing and being with Abel Callahan was not it.

"Your heart beat matches mine."

This was a well-written story, that kept secrets close until the end. The attraction between Abel and Elma was off-the-charts and when they do get together is is beautiful, until the next day anyway. The struggles of these characters felt real and their story was moving. I was invested in their lives and wanted to know what was going to happen. While this is not my typical genre, I enjoyed this book. Abel was a sexy and caring leading male and Elma had just the right amount of sass and feelings for him. There was also a set up for other characters to have a story, things are left unsettled with the first born son and I looking forward to unveiling his secrets.
January 21, 2016
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Paradise Fought by LB Dunbar
I received a copy from the author for an honest review.
One of my favorite things about this author is her writing style. She has the ability to write about any topic and pull you in. I was a huge fan of her fan-fiction about King Arthur and the Round Table. Now with this book, I love how she turns a modern day twist on the Biblical story of Cain vs Abel while also incorporating the 90’s movie Can’t Buy Me Love. Who does that? Who COULD do that besides LB Dunbar?
This story is about Elma who has lost it all because of the illegal underground fighting ring. Her brother was murdered and she is after the fighter who did it. She wants to find a fighter to take him down and ruin him.
Abel is the 2nd son who is invisible to his father annnnd to woman in general. He has loved Elma from a far for EVER but she has no clue who he is because she is part of the “pretty” people crowd while he is part of the “who is that guy again” crowd.
When Elma is in need (hence the movie reference) Abel steps in. He hopes that he can get her to pay some attention to him and maybe like him or date him??? Maybe? Perhaps? All he gets is a whole lot of frustrating. He sees Elma throwing herself at the fighter Thor which makes him crazy. As the two fight, they are also growing more and more attracted to each other.
As the story goes on we get more and more details about Elma’s brother, Abel’s older brother Cain and what a POS he is, his father, Elma’s life and everything else in between. They keep bumping heads while trying to fight this desire they both have.
I enjoyed the story and was sad for Cain and Abel for their childhood history. I felt bad for Elma and her broken home after her brother’s death. I look forward to more from this series because I can see a few more books that could spin off from this story…….I think the only think that I missed from this story were tears….LB always makes me snot sob and this is the first time it hasn’t happened to me when reading her!!!
Profile Image for Amanda at WickedGoodReads.
809 reviews16 followers
February 3, 2016
I finished this book yesterday.....and had to have some time to really process or digest what I had just read.

Like the Synopsis reads:
I'm not a fighter.
I was born into a fighting family. As the middle child, I was overlooked in favor of my older brother.
He took the negative attention, too. In comparison, there's nothing special about me.
I’m not as big as Cobra. I’m not as strong as Cobra. He's the alpha.
I'm a beta.
The second son.
The lesser one.
The one never encouraged to fight, never encouraged to do anything, but stay out of my father’s way.

I'm not a lover either - but I wished to be – that’s why I needed her.
I met a girl in the pouring rain.
Sounds cliché, but it's true. It changed everything.
Because of love, I learned to fight.

Betas come second, but in this fight, my story is first

That girl is Elma, and if I am being honest, she did not deserve Abel. Elma has a hidden agenda. She is out to avenge her brother's death. Her brother who, fought Abel's brother Cain, in a fight he was not medically cleared for. Cain did not kill her brother, but Elma is basically blind. So, in a way, she "appears" to be whoring herself out to all these underground fighters in an effort to get someone who would go into the ring with Cain......

Abel has some issues, basically his dad treated him like crap his entire life and even as an adult. Abel thinks he is nothing, no one wants him, no one see's him. I am not sure if he really thought he could not get a girl without help, because honestly, I don't think he had any problems when it came to Elma or he was just trying to find a way to force the issue with Elma

Things I liked about this book.....Abel.

Things I did not like...his family kinda sucked, I am still not sure I like his brother. I hate his father, and even though Elma and Abel end up together, I am not satisfied that their relationship is real. I did not like all the back and forth between the two.

ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for EscapeNBooks.
809 reviews
January 25, 2016
Guest Review by Tammy Cole

I was so excited to read this book as I love MMA books and I really enjoy LB Dunbar's writing! Well she didn't disappoint with this book. I loved this story that had a modern twist on the whole Cain/Abel story.

"Medusa had just poisoned me with her glare, only this was a beautiful woman with a sassy mouth and tempting words."

Abel is the son that his father shuns and Cain has always protected Abel growing up. Abel is tired of living in the shadows and is determined to make something of himself. Elma, (by the way I love that name!) has just lost her brother and also now she has lost her source of income for her and her mother. Abel has admired Elma from afar for a while and having a chance encounter with Elma he is going to do what he can to make her finally see him.

"You're the sunshine above the water. The beam of light in the dark ocean."

I just loved this story and seeing how much Abel loves Elma even though he really hasn't been shown any kind of love or affection growing up. Elma was a heroine I really admired as she was dealt a bad hand in life but she was determined to find a way out and right a wrong that she felt happened. This was such a good romance story and I would definitely recommend this one!

"I swam in the stream and followed the betta..."
Profile Image for Donna Porter.
1,034 reviews9 followers
January 12, 2016
Abel was the weaker of the two brothers. His brother, Cain was a fighter and praised all the time by their father. Their father was a fighter in his younger days but not as famous as Cain, Cobra. Abel was the smart one of the family but he was secretly training to fight in the ring. Despite his smaller stature he was very fast on his feet. Elma Montgomery was also a student at the same school as Abel. She was in the popular group. Abel adored her from afar. Her brother Montana was killed in a fight and now Elma and her mother are living on what Elma can earn. Elma finds out her money wasn't paid for the semester. She knows her mom took the money to drink on. Her mother hasn't been the same since her brother died. Abel overhears her conversation with the office and he offers to pay for her. She wants to know what he wants in return. He tells her he needs lessons on how to get girls to notice him. Elma knows she can do that so she agrees. Sometimes what we wish for and what we get our not what we want after all. This is a nice story and it was very interesting and it had a few suprises along the way. This book does contain profanity and sex scenes so it isn't for everyone.
651 reviews4 followers
January 19, 2016
This was my first L.B Durham book and I must say I'm a big fan and will be reading more if they are anything like this one. The explosion that happens in this book is fantastic. I love the Cain and Abel brother against brother aspect of this book but there was so much more there. It's a great love story and L.B Durham takes the time to develop that love not rush into it. It also gives us a look into Cain and his story with out giving to much of it away.

Elma lost her brother in a fight now she wants revenge for his death. She needs to find a fighter who can do what she needs but first she has to fund a way to pay for this semesters.
Abel has alway be been second but now he wants to prove he's more. Working the underground fights he's making a name for his self.
Elma and Abel come together as agreement to helps both of them. He paid for school now she has to teach him how to get the girl. She had been the strong one for a year now and doing the best she can but when Abel starts making her change she sees it's all for the best. But not all the help she gets come from Abel and it's the most unexpected place of all.
These two have a love for each other that neither is will to admit to at least not until they are pushed to.
Profile Image for Jacqui Norris.
280 reviews7 followers
January 22, 2016
Arc received from author for honest review

L.B. Dunbar has wowed our senses and then rocked us and now she is bringing us her newest series with some hot fighters. Abel is the first in her Paradise series and what a way to introduce us to it! Wow! It was hard not to fall in love with this book and the characters of Abel and Elma.

Both Abel and Elma have lived in the shadows of their brothers who are fighters and took care of them. When tragedy hits Elma and her family, it is up to her to be the responsible one and maybe find justice for her brother. Abel is tired of being told he is always the weaker son and decides to go and prove himself differently. Both coming from families of fighters, their paths cross and what starts out as a “tutoring” agreement, slowly turns into more.

I loved the chemistry created by L.B. Dunbar for these characters. There was tension, misunderstandings, raw emotions, and of course, amazing sex. So pretty much what anyone would expect from L.B. She has a way to make the reader relate to her characters and get emotionally involved in the story. If this book is an indication of how this series is going to be, I am staying for for the full count!! Thank you L.B. Dunbar once again! I can’t wait for Cain’s story!!
Profile Image for Shameca Smith.
263 reviews
January 28, 2016

I don't like to choose favorites, but I have to with LB's books. Abel is my absolute favorite of all of her books! I could not put this book down and I found myself hiding in the bathroom at work to read this story. I haven't read too many fighter books because I have a favorite fighter and I didn't think anyone could compete with him, but Abel is right in that top spot with him. The way that LB wrote Abel's character drew me into the book even more. He was sweet, determined, and he was a sweetheart. Not to mention a badass MMA fighter! I loved that this story was told in dual POV because I was able to get the backstory of Abel, his thoughts, his wishes. I will never look at a beta fish the same way again. This story will definitely take place of it! I highly recommend this book. It will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It will have you cheering for Abel and Elma's relationship, will have you cursing at the people that are in these twos way, and have you wanting to hug both of them after everything is over! LB... I NEED MORE!!
Profile Image for Book-Lover-49.
922 reviews6 followers
January 9, 2016
If I had to define this book in a sentence, it would be: "Things are never what they appear to be."
It is hard to give a review without giving up the story and I don't want to do that, so I will keep this short.

Abel is a very complex character with layers and more layers that are explained as the story goes. Not all of those layers are resolved or explained yet.

Elma has reasons behind the reasons on top of more reasons for all that she does. She is a peculiar mix of naive and jaded. And both sides of her pop up at different times.

The background story is another character and the moving force behind the story.
It is well written, painful at a times, dark and yet full of hope.
Profile Image for Natasha.
714 reviews16 followers
January 25, 2016
I received a ARC in exchange for a honest review.
5* read.
I love this author and this was actually my favourite book yet even though it's completely different to her other books. Straight away the front cover grabbed my attention and made me want to read this book, and once I started reading I couldn't put it down. It had everything I love in a book and I immediately felt a connection to the characters and invested in their journey.
Abel and Elma had this unique chemistry and connection whilst battling their own demons they meet and end up forming this strong connection they never expected.
A beautiful yet heartbreaking story in places of a modern day twist on a biblical story. Brilliant work yet again from this unique author, I can't wait for more.
Profile Image for Jeanette Book-Reviews.
577 reviews10 followers
January 25, 2016
****4.5 Stars****

*ARC kindly provided by the Author for an honest review*

Wow.. I'm kinda blow away as this is the first book I've read written by this Author, certainly wont be my last!

This story really gripped me from the start, We meet Abel & Elma who by the way I absolutely adored!

A credit to this Author for tugging my heartstrings!! Wow that's what I love about this story that makes me feel all kind of emotions.

I'm not for one posting spoilers but I can honestly say if you want an amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking & the ability to get drawn into the storylines then you should read this one!

I'm looking forward to the next one! :)
Profile Image for She Hearts Books.
2,112 reviews72 followers
January 25, 2016
Elma so tugged at my heart. She lost her brother who fought in the ring. She lost her mother who couldn't get things together to support her. That means she struggles to have the money for school. When she is faced with not being able to sign up for classes, Abel comes in to save the day and wants her help. Abel is such a lonely soul. His father is a monster. My heart broke for all that he suffered. Then came Elma.

There are twists and turns creating such a rollercoaster ride of emotions in their story. I loved every bit of it.

I give Paradise Fought: Abel 4 hearts!
January 10, 2016
An absolute knock-out! From the well developed and relatable characters to the twist and turns of the plot there was never a dull moment.
Abel was a sexy non-typical bad boy that any girl would fall for. Protective yet possessive and all sorts of yummy!
Elma was an independent hard working woman who has a sassy go-getting side.
Both characters worked well together and I loved their chemistry.
The story left me begging for me and I can't wait to read the next book about Abel's brother.
15 reviews1 follower
January 14, 2016
As my first fighter/MMA book Paradise Fought went above and beyond my expectations.

I dare you not to fall in love with Abel! He is so sweet and such a refreshing change from what I normally read.

I love how LB Dunbar takes historic stories and puts a modern spin on them. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great love story.
Profile Image for Jos.
1,710 reviews111 followers
February 2, 2016
4 Solid Stars

Great start to her new series! I loved Abel and Elma and I CANNOT wait for Cain's story:)
Profile Image for LA Spiez.
191 reviews15 followers
March 10, 2016
So first of all, let me share I am ridiculously in love with Abel Callahan. How could I not be? He's incredibly gorgeous. Dark hair that falls into his deep blue eyes, tall, muscular and those tatts he tries to keep hidden. Then seeing them peeking out of fitted t-shirts sleeves......just damn.

I've also come to realize something about author L.B. Dunbar. She likes to take historical stories and turn theme into her own. She did it with King Arthur, turning him into Arturo King and now with the biblical story of Cain and Abel. I should also add, she does it well. I have throughly enjoyed her take on these epic tales.

Remember? In the biblical story, Abel was the lesser of the sons. L.B. Dunbar repeats that pattern in Paradise Fought. This Abel has always known his place in his family and by becoming fighter Betta, tries to break out of the mold that his father has cast him in.

Fighting isn't only what Paradise Fought is about. There's a girl that Abel has been enamored with since the first time he met her. The girl is Elma Montgomery. She and Abel go to the same college, which is where they run into for a second time as Elma is trying to register for classes. Unfortunately, Elma has run out of money and for the second time in her life, even though she doesn't remember him at all from their first encounter, Abel comes to her rescue. All he asks in return is for Elma to teach him how to date. Weird right?

Elma is the sister of another fighter who died during a fight. A death which Elma refuses to believe was an accident. A death which she plans on getting revenge for.

Let's get back to Abel, when we meet him he's definitely got that preppy college thing going on and it absolutely works for him. The khakis, the button down, the glasses, all on point. Elma can tell he's attractive and that he's got a great body under all those clothes. She also can't figure out why he needs her help with dating.

You've obviously figured out that Abel is also Betta. He's the son that wasn't supposed to fight. He was the weaker son. But he fights and he's good. Good enough to win and begin to make a name for himself.

Abel clearly wants more than pretend dates with Elma, but she's hard to get a read on. They do share some steamy moments when you know they can absolutely be more than friends, but like in any good story, there are obstacles for the both of them.

Both of their families are a mess and that influences the choices that they make. Abel's father is a horrible, horrible man and his relationship with his brother Cain is strained at best.

Then there's Elma's plan to avenge her brother's death. How does Abel fit into all of this and how will it play out in the end?

Now you know I can't tell you, that just wouldn't be right. But if you go and one click, you can not only get the whole story, but, enjoy the deliciousness that is Abel Callahan. Did I mention sexy? Because oh man is he good in that department.

Anyway I'm going to continue my swoon for Abel a little bit more and then I'm going to read about big brother Cain and see if he measures up to his little brother. Oh, didn't I mention? Cain's got his own novella!

A four lip smack review for Paradise Fought and the completely swoon worthy Abel Callahan.

Profile Image for David Maher.
275 reviews9 followers
May 16, 2016
In a move reminiscent of several 80's teenage romcoms, Abel, upon finding Elma in serious financial straits, offers to pay her tuition for her, and in return, asks for ... coaching. Not in what to do with a girl once he's got one, but rather in how to attract their attention in the first place.

As the younger son, Abel's always been the one being ignored. As the small child, the one overlooked, and he's more than ready for all of that to change.

But that's about where the resemblance between this story and those comedies ends.This story isn't a funny one. Not only is Abel on a mission to find and keep a girl, but he's also on a mission to prove to his family, and to himself, that he should never have been ignored and denied opportunities the way he had been. He intends to prove that the only way they'll understand, with his fists and in a ring.

As a fighter, he goes by the the name Betta (a kind of fish more commonly known as a Siamese fighting fish) and its here that L.B. Dunbar​ does something rather unique. Not only does she use the betta as a metaphor for describing Abel, which wouldn't be remarkable at all, but she extends that metaphor right through the book, coming back to it again and again in different ways and drawing out different parallels. Further, she then goes and brings in other fish and ocean metaphors as if the lonesome betta wasn't enough and sprinkles them liberally through the book.

If that wasn't enough, the rather obvious biblical allusion to the sons of Adam, Cain and Abel is brought up, and in line with that, there's an assortment of biblical references and language used in key places, but what delighted me was that the characters were self aware. Abel knows his name will prompt people to think of the biblical story and he himself plays on that.

Metaphors aside, we have a rather dark, haunting story of a lost little boy striving to prove himself a man all the while pining after the girl who's never noticed him.

Meanwhile the girl is grasping at straws, trying to keep her head above water as, following the death of her older brother, her world crumbles around her. Not realizing what and who Abel is all she offers is misdirections, miscommunications, and misadventure never realizing that she's been Miss Perfect all along.

I just loved this book and am genuinely looking forward to the promised sequel Paradise Found: Cain
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