Dr. Andrew Alexander is a kind-hearted soul. When he sees a battered woman in the waiting area of the Emergency Room he decides, system be damned, and he cares for her immediately. Robyn Monroe has carried many a scar, bruise, and broken bone on her frame. Her twin sister went against her wishes by bringing her to a hospital, knowing that they could not afford the treatment. Lucy only wanted to keep her sister alive. This chance meeting intertwines to very different lives as Doctor Alexander discovers a world he didn’t realize existed, and Robyn learns that she is, literally, worth fighting for. 

One of the most inspiring stories of the year, “Underground” tears open the seedy underbelly of street fighting, an incredibly unique topic. Robyn is not a battered woman. She is, in fact, one of the strongest women around, both physically and emotionally. Ms. Johanna’s dedication to developing both her characters and her story is admirable. The reader is literally taken into this underground world and forced to see the harsh reality of this brutal sport. The nasty little cliffhanger ending is the only mark against an otherwise poignant drama, with a sweet, yet realistic romance. Andrew and Robyn are both scarred by their past lives, but together, they can overcome their issues, because of how the author crafted them. This novel is an example of true literary artistry. 

Penelope Anne Bartotto