Fighting the Fear by Courtney W. Dixon


Come hang with us at Knockout Gym,, where love is unexpected but fought for until the very end 🥊

Forced to abandon his MMA career, Jace now teaches but has lived a lonely life for years before stumbling upon a young man that needs help. Nolan is thankful he is saved from a brutal mugging, and meeting Jace inspires him to learn self defense and perhaps find an inner strength to pursue his own truth and dreams. Neither realizes that their blooming friendship becomes something deeper and perhaps has forever possibilities in Fighting the Fear.

From the blurb:

One was afraid to fall in love again. The other was afraid to be himself. Together they fight their fears.

A motorcycle accident several years ago nearly took my leg. Then, it took my UFC career and, eventually, my marriage. My current life revolves around working a dead-end job and barely living. The only thing keeping me moving forward and giving me purpose are those kids I teach MMA at Knockout Gym. That is, until him. When Nolan calls for help from a dark alley, I don’t want to get involved, but what man am I to ignore a plea for help? Now, I spend several evenings a week teaching the young man how to defend himself. But who is going to defend me against him? He’s breaking down my walls, block by block, and I’m falling for him.


I don’t belong here. A rich boy in a bad neighborhood equals trouble. There’s no way to fight four men off who mug me. But he comes out of nowhere like some knight of old, fighting his way through the thugs, saving my life. The incident left me shaken. I can’t go through that again. Jace can teach me to protect myself, so I hire him for private lessons. But he’s become more than my trainer and savior. Would he want a young, rich boy? We are worlds apart. Can we get past our differences to find common ground? Because I want him.

Fighting the Fear is a standalone MM romance novella in the multi-author collaboration Fighting for Love. All the stories take place in the shared gym Knockout MMA Training Facility. At Knockout Gym, happily ever afters are hard-won.

This is a demisexual, bi-awakening, age-gap, friends-to-lovers romance where even coming from different worlds, you can still share similarities and fears.

CW: Mugging, depression, homophobia, violence, explicit language and sex.

Nedra's review:

Courtney brings her usual energy to this scene at Knockout Gym, with a little added flair and spice. Her execution of events for both characters were flawless and authentic. Loved how Jace effortlessly captured the audience with his own unique skills, that set their organic chemistry in motion to grow into something special.

Their chemistry was flowing through this quick, engaging read, letting little bits of information grow into something more meaningful. Jace’s past was difficult, never giving up on himself nor the children. Nolan, on the other hand, was not as expected, transitioning into his new role easily.

Even though the basis of this story had Courtney’s name all over it, she added in some special features that were new for her. How Jace and Nolan emotions just naturally connected without hesitation, was inevitably beautiful with pure, raw affirmations of their love. Cannot wait for the remainder of this series and to meet all the new characters!!

SNik's review:

Part of a multi-author series (Fighting For Love), but can be read as a standalone. Friends to lovers. Age gap. Hurt/comfort. Demisexual representation. Quick read. Dual POV. Heed content warnings. 

Jace lost his hope of an MMA career and his marriage after an accident left him with a damaged leg, and walking home from the gym where he teaches he certainly doesn’t expect to rescue a young man from a brutal mugging. Nolan should have known better than to visit a neighborhood where his wealth made him a target, but he can’t regret meeting Jace and eventually asking him to teach Nolan self defense. Jace and Nolan start a friendship with an underlying simmer of attraction, both men accepting and appreciating the other until they decide to try for something more. 

I appreciated Nolan’s maturity and Jace’s ability to accept his attraction to Nolan, they were so supportive of each other throughout. I especially enjoyed the slow build of their relationship, nothing felt rushed and the eventual steamy times seemed true to Jace and Nolan and their eventual HEA.

Angel's review:

I haven't read too many books that feature MMA or any other type of self defense/fighting elements. I thought that those elements were described really well, I found them to be believable. I appreciated how there wasn't just one scene where Jace was teaching kids, but there was one with him teaching Adults, along with him teaching Nolan. I thought that was cool cause that is what he enjoys doing, is teaching people.

The way he helped Nolan when he needed it, even if that meant potentially putting himself in danger, was such a selfless thing to do, and the way he showed kindness to a complete stranger was so beautiful. While I did like both Jace and Nolan's characters, there really wasn't much information to learn about either of them, not a lot of backstory. And as far as the side characters go, I feel as though they could've added more to the story? I think some of the characters that were mentioned were just added to add a comment or two and then they weren't mentioned again.

I feel as though the pacing was a bit.. off at times? It would start as day-to-day then jump to two weeks later, followed by months later, I just found the pacing to be a bit odd. Having said that though I did enjoy the story overall. I thought that Nolan and Jace's relationship progressed well, they took things slow and got to know each other a bit first. I love how even though Jace was surprised he started to like a man, that he didn't really make a big deal out of it. He didn't lash out at anyone or rage, he was just surprised that he found himself liking Nolan and pursued him despite liking a man being so new to him.

Overall a decent story and I'm looking forward to reading about more of the characters who work at this gym.

Reed's review:

I feel this is a sort of melancholy story.
Jace has faced some of the tragic things in life and is now daily living a life with purpose. The only sad part is he is lonely.
Circumstances cause him to come to the rescue of Nolan.
Nolan comes from a family with money. He has lived his life doing whatever he hopes makes his parents appreciate him. That doesn’t seem to happen.
This romance has an age gap and the fact Jace is straight until he isn’t. While the story itself, in my opinion, has a lot of sadness going on, these two together bring out what is good in life.

Fighting the Fear is available to buy as an ebook, paperback, or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.