Review: “False Start” by Casey Hagen

Series: Beautifully Brutal, #1

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: February 16th, 2021

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I’m used to being an outsider, full of self-doubt, pain, and a longing to belong. Until I found this family, my own band of derby sisters. But when the most notorious coach in roller derby sets his sights on me, my life is thrust into chaos. He’s a perceptive, cocky hard-ass, who’s made me his enemy, and his student. Despite being my adversary, he’s the only man I can trust when faced with insurmountable odds, even if I hate every second he tries to bend me to his will. Our proximity brings with it a forbidden attraction.
One that can destroy everything my team has built. One that threatens to break me down, piece by piece I won’t let Cain Bishop break me…at least not on the track.

But maybe…I’ll let him break my bed.

One night home and I’m obsessed with the track. Maybe not the track itself, but her. The most compelling player I’ve ever seen. The way she maneuvers through the pack, I can’t take my eyes off her. She’s a fighter, battling head to head for everything she believes in. When the odds turn against her, I’m the key to her salvation. Getting too close could cost me everything. But there’s no chance in hell I’ll stay away. Not even when redemption is on the line. Maisy Flynn is mine, even if neither one of us wants it. Only…keeping her might mean she loses everything she holds dear.

After all I’ve done, the Devil himself would sooner see me burning on my knees at his feet than let me keep my prize.


“Because in life, and especially in roller derby, when they knock you down, you get back up. You always get back up.”

When I saw the sign up for this book, the first thought that went through my head was “Oh my god, I need to see Whip It again!” That’s my only introduction and education on anything roller derby and I’m sure for those living outside of the States, that movie is all we know. So you can imagine my excitement when I got to read an ARC of False Start by Casey Hagen. Not only did I fall in love with these beautifully flawed characters, but I am now obsessed with roller derby. To the point where I spent hours last night after finishing the book watching videos on YouTube. Like I said, obsessed.

False Start is the story of Maisy “Mayhem” Flynn and Cain “Priest” Bishop and the complicated, messy, insanely hot and distracting lives they lead. Maisy is part of a derby team in a small town in Maine and she’s had a rough life. She’s got her girls and her routines and her jobs and her volunteer work keeping her busy, but it’s still not the most exciting or satisfying life. Cain was once a respected and well-known derby coach, till he let one mistake change the course of his life. He left this small town to go do something else, become someone else, but now that he’s back to take care of his pregnant sister, Cain and Maisy are going to end up tangled together.

It’s lust at first sight for both Maisy and Cain, they desire each other more than their next breath, but there’s so much working against them. Cain’s history with the town and the rumours that are circulating about him aside, he’s a dark and broody man that everyone loves and loves to hate. He’s got history and Maisy doesn’t know all of it. But that doesn’t stop her. They pick and poke at each other, pushing to see how far they can go and gah, it’s so hot and steamy.

“She made me feel out of control in a way I hadn’t felt since I was a teenager.”

I absolutely loved these two characters. They’re not perfect and they’re not trying to be either. They know their flaws and they accept it. They’re living with their darkness and in the shadows. I love how blunt, aggressive and passionate Maisy is. She’s driven by the need to help people and do something good for someone else. She’s got her demons, but Maisy tries to rise above it. Her bad attitude is technically only reserved for Cain, everyone else in town adores her, including the two grumps who sit at the diner where she works. Cain is a protector and a fixer. He’s always looked out for the little guy and even though he comes from an old family in that town, he lets them run him out because of one stupid mistake he made. They both keep their walls up so high, till they start to come undone together.

And my god, the heat in this book. Phew. I told myself not to rush through it, but Cain and Maisy are so damn good together. Any time they’re alone in a scene, you can feel the desire thrumming between them. Even Maisy’s derby teammates talk about the tension and the lust with abandon. I mean, they have zero filters to begin with, but when it comes to Cain, they just let it rip. Forget being polite, just objectify the man already.

“He was way more than a gooey cookie, more than an edible, way more than a snack, he was a whole damn meal.”

Cain and Maisy drive each other insane, but also drive each other wild. Their emotional and physical relationship connects so well, because you can see that they’re trying to behave, but one kiss is all it takes. Cain and Maisy end up working together, taking her derby team to the big time and they set rules in place. And I love that even though they are physically tuned into each other, they keep those lines drawn. Yes, they’re easily distracted by each other, but they have this mission and this purpose and nothing is going to undo that. They’re both so driven and passionate about roller derby that you can tell they don’t want to mess it all up. But they’re also incredibly passionate about each other and that balance is absolutely perfect.

There was a lot to process in roller derby terms, but I love how Casey spread it out for us. She gives you just the right amount of information to visualise the whole thing in your head, but also makes you want to learn more about the sport. It’s such a brilliant sport though and one I haven’t read books about yet. So you can be sure that I’m watching this space for more of the series, because this book completely blew me away.

Thanks to Casey Hagen & Wildfire Marketing Solutions for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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