I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Hard Knocks is a short novella that focuses on Gage and Harper while also introducing a myriad of characters that will make up Lori Foster's new series, Ultimate. Gage is a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who through a slight mishap ends up injuring himself enough during practice that he is medically nixed from competing in his next match. Harper has known Gage for most of her life and has harbored a serious crush on him since high school. Before Gage left a couple months ago to step up his training, he and Harper were dating and getting awfully close to having their own little wrestling bout in the bedroom. The story takes place at the rec center (a central hangout and gym for fighters and kids to come to get off the streets) on the night Gage's fight was suppose to take place. As people gather there to watch the fights, Harper decides it's up to her to get Gage out of his funk.
This story is under 100 pages, so it isn't really about character development but rather introducing you and setting up the Ultimate series. There is not much backstory to Harper and Gage so this isn't so much about the building of their relationship but rather a glimpse at the spark that sets their relationship off. The story moves quickly and our leads are cute with enough chemistry together that you'll breeze through this with a smile on your face.
The other MMA fighters introduced are given enough face time to intrigue and make you want to read their books. If you have read Foster's series Love Undercover, you may even recognize the name and character Cannon. Cannon is discussed here and is the star of No Limits; book one in this Ultimate series. I have already read No Limits and trust me, you do not want to miss his story. Hard Knocks may not be a long and involved story but it is a fantastic supplement to the Ultimate series.