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Caged (The Defiant Kings #1) by Bella Matthews


Why are the cocky ones always the hardest to resist?

Because this man . . . this man is temptation personified. He’s six feet, four inches of rock-solid, golden muscles that are inked to perfection and proudly displayed every time he steps into the cage. And I’m the idiot who agreed to stay with him for the next few days.

Hudson “The King” Kingston knew he had a fight coming up when he risked himself to save me. How could I say no when he needed a friend to help him out? Because that’s exactly what we’ve always been—friends.

Friends who flirt. Friends who tease. Friends who never cross that line. Ever.

The problem is the more time we spend together, the more things shift between us. But no matter how much I wish he could be my first, he’s never been a relationship guy, and I refuse to settle for anything less.

I know I can trust him with my life, but can I trust him with my heart?

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Congratulations on USA Today bestselling author Bella Matthews’ all-new hot sports romance Caged. It’s the beginning of a fantastic series that includes the Kingston siblings of Philadelphia and the men and women who change their lives forever.

Hudson Kingston is a cocky MMA reigning champion and ladies’ man who has it all: looks, charm, money, and family. But what he wants the most, he can’t have. She’s beautiful, sweet, sassy, and she doesn’t like to be touched. He’s desired her for three years but has kept it strictly friends until he’s injured saving her life and his bossy, steamrolling sister suggests she take care of him. Close proximity never felt so frustrating.

Madison Dixon owns a social media management business and is a yoga teacher at Crucible, the gym where she met the very hot and sexy MMA fighter who is constantly asking her out. She knows it’s just friendly banter and that he wouldn’t be interested in a broken woman like her. Besides he’s got a manwhore reputation and she doesn’t want to get her heart crushed. When he suddenly gets hurt by an intruder at the gym, she agrees to keep an eye on him when he heals. It felt good to take care of someone else for a change, but who will take care of her heart?

Hudson and Maddie are meant to be. After all, Hudson’s large and caring family was taking bets on how long the couple would finally realize it themselves. Hudson is definitely a yummy book boyfriend with his discipline and patience giving Maddie the control to say when she was ready. He never pushes her into anything and he really listens to her, unlike others who treat her like a naive kid. Hudson is a hell of a fighter as shown in a couple of his fights. He leaves no doubt why he is the champion. Maddie is a strong woman who experienced a lot of heartbreak in foster care. When she opens up to Hudson about her past it is so tragic. She comes across as quiet and sweet, but she’s spunky and feisty as she comes out of her shell and delivers some surprising dirty talk as they finally “seal the deal”. It is definitely a maddening buildup of longing and frustration due to Hudson’s trainer’s “no women” rule before his fight, but it is well worth the wait. The author threw in a little setback along the way with an incident that makes Hudson doubt himself as a fighter and a man. But, no worries. Maddie steps up and has his back. 

This book wouldn’t be complete without the Kingston clan, Maddie’s brother, Brandon, and all their friends. Learning the characters takes some time, but the author does a great job of making each and every one of their personalities shine through. I can’t wait to read more about them in the series.

I love this book. It zaps you from the start with a great rush of adrenaline with the break-in at the gym and gives the reader even more excitement from the sexual tension of the protagonists. Not to mention the delightful antics and protectiveness of the large and loving Kingston family dynamic which just gave me the feels. Pick up this book, it won’t disappoint.

Thank you to Ms. Matthews for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.

Defiant Kings

1. Caged (2022)
2. Shaken (2023) – my review
3. Iced (2023)
4. Overruled (2023)
5. Haven (2023)



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A creak in the hall a few minutes later has me watching a shadow that stops on the other side of the closed door. My heart races, wondering if Hudson’s going to knock. But after a minute, the shadow is gone, and the footsteps head further down the hall to the next room. Hudson’s bedroom.

I sit there, paralyzed and debating what to do for at least ten minutes as disappointment chokes me. Until I finally get up, positive this is insane but forcing myself to move until I’m standing in front of his closed door with my hand pressed against it.

“Maddie?” he calls from inside the room.

“Yeah,” I whisper back. He doesn’t say anything, but the door opens, and I swallow my tongue.

Steam is billowing in from the master bathroom, and wow  .  .  .

This man is beautiful. Standing with one crutch under his arm, a towel wrapped around his hips, and his wet hair dripping down his face, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything sexier. I rake my eyes over all the beautiful, inked muscles on display and have to fight the sudden urge to reach out and trace every last line.

It’s a new urge, and I don’t hate it.

 “Are you okay, Mads?” He adjusts his hold on the crutch, still favoring his sore knee and searching my face for an answer. “Maddie?”

I take a deep breath to settle my thoughts as they go into overdrive. “I’m fine. I just  .  .  . God, why is it so hard?”

Hudson cocks his eyebrow, and I realize what I said. More importantly, what it sounded like. “Not you, you big goof.”

“I know, sunshine. I just wanted to see you smile. You never smiled tonight. Not your real smile anyway.”Hudson steps back. “Let me throw some pants on.”


He moves into the walk-in closet, nearly out of view but not completely.

No  .  .  . I can’t tear my eyes away, as the black towel hits the plush carpet, and am rewarded with an unobstructed view of one calf before it’s covered by a pair of dark jersey pajama pants. When he steps back into the room, he’s shirtless with just those pajama bottoms hanging from incredibly lean hips. Of course, this king has those damn dips that form a perfect V leading to  .  .  . trouble. Yup. I bring my eyes back up to meet his and see a devilish spark staring back at me. Definitely leading to trouble.

Hudson ambles across the room and presses a button that closes the drapes, then sits on the bed with the TV remote in his hand. “Come on, Mads. I want to see what happens in the next Harry Potter. Watch it with me.”

And like a moth to a flame, I throw caution to the wind and walk into the room.


Bella Matthews is a Jersey girl at heart. She is married to her very own Alpha Male and raising three little ones. You can typically find her running from one sporting event to another. When she is home, she is usually hiding in her home office with the only other female in her house, her rescue dog Tinker Bell by her side. She likes to write swoon-worthy heroes and sassy, smart heroines with a healthy dose of laughter and all the feels.

Follow Bella on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bookbub, and Goodreads.



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