Gina L. Maxwell Reveals How MMA Influenced Her Hot Fighting For Love Series

Author Gina L. Maxwell kicked off her new Fighting for Love series with Seducing Cinderella, a steamy friends-to-lovers tale about Lucie, a woman ready to give up on love after the doctor she's been pining after asks for her friends phone number. When she's reunited with her childhood crush, MMA fighter Reid, the two make a deal: If she helps him recover form an injury, he will teach her the art of seduction. We were curious to learn more about how MMA inspired Maxwell to create this sizzling series, and we straight to the author for an answer:

About fifteen years ago, my husband and his friends were watching television, shouting and arguing and gesturing like crazed lunatics. “What in the world are you guys watching?” I asked. “UFC,” he replied. I stared blankly at him. “You know, MMA.” I rolled my eyes, but instead of pointing out that one acronym does not automatically explain another, I moved to look for myself.

My jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out of my head.

Two extremely well-built men in an octagonal cage were beating the living tar out of each other. Blood gushed from a gash over one guy’s eye, the other guy’s cheek was so swollen you couldn’t even tell he had a right eye, and yet neither of them let up.

If they weren’t striking with punches, they were landing body shots with a well-placed kick or knee. And if they decided that wasn’t good enough, they’d shoot into their opponents’ hips, drive them into the mat, and then do a ground-and-pound. All while grappling like wrestlers until they could maneuver one of many special submissions, causing the other guy to tap out, get choked unconscious, or the ref called the fight.

Needless to say, I was appalled.

I turned my head, unable to witness such utter brutality. I spoke up and passed judgment on every guy in my living room, telling them they were all barbaric morons for watching something so horrendous. After that I didn’t see or hear anything about the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) for a long time.

A few years later my husband reintroduced me to it, but this time, instead of judging it for what I thought looked like a slightly more organized version of Fight Club, I took the time to actually watch (through squinty, wincing eyes at first) and ask him questions. The more I watched and learned, the more I respected the hell out of the guys man enough to enter the octagon.

MMA fighters are modern-day gladiators, stepping into a caged arena with an opponent who has the potential to utterly destroy him. The fights aren’t uncoordinated brawls you see at the local bar. These men are experts in more forms of fighting than Paris Hilton is in forms of shopping.

They train—and damn hard—for years, sometimes from the time they were children, mastering multiple forms of martial arts, wrestling, and boxing. And when they step into that cage, they do so with the utmost respect for the sport and their opponent, even if they’re bitter rivals.

Once I took the time to learn and truly appreciate what they do as athletes, it became a family pastime. Just as some families are huge hockey fans or football fans, we’re huge UFC fans. And like some kids who idolize their favorite team’s quarterback, when my daughter was only seven years old, she told people her favorite fighter was Chuck Lidell. (Except she thought we were saying “Chocolate Dell” so that’s how she pronounced it. We didn’t correct her for years. It was too damn adorable.)

My mother feels as I originally did. She hates it, thinks it’s nothing more than a show of commercialized brutality, and doesn’t agree with us letting our kids watch it, despite the fact that we educate them about the sport so they understand the difference between MMA and random violence. She’s not alone. As I mentioned in the book, a lot of people call it human cockfighting and refuse to see it any other way.

But I urge them to take a step back from that strong stance and objectively study what MMA is at its very core. Because I assure you, I have seen more displays of good sportsmanship at the end of UFC fights, than I have in any “normal” sport. I’ve seen numerous documentaries of these fighters, showing them as loving husbands and fathers, men who give back to their communities, men who take the time to teach the sport they love to young people and ensure they grow up with just as much respect for it as they did.

I know writing a romance with an MMA hero isn’t the most effective way to educate people on the sport and its athletes. Nor was that my intention when I went into it. But I did want to make sure I depicted Reid as so much more than just a fighter. Their choice of career does not define who they are as men. It merely enhances them.

I’m very excited to be writing the Fighting for Love series with MMA heroes. Each of the books will bring a little more of the MMA world into the stories and introduce a new, sexy fighter who will do whatever it takes to win—inside the cage…and out.

- Gina L. Maxwell

You can grab your own copy of Seducing Cinderella, available digitally now and in print on February 26. For more steamy reads visit RT's Everything Erotica Page.