Review: The Ace by Rhonda Shaw

Review: The Ace by Rhonda ShawThe Ace by Rhonda Shaw

Series: #2 Men of the Show
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Published by Carina Press on April 14, 2014
Pages: 196
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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four-stars  

Spring time in Michigan wouldn’t be complete without Opening Day for the beloved home baseball team.  And as a long time resident, I can attest to the truth of this so I was excited to grab up this book that highlights the star commitment shy starting pitcher for a fictional Detroit baseball team and a spunky, stubborn hot mess of a real estate gal who makes Jerry’s commitment issues minor league.  These two took my on quite the emotional roller coaster ride, but along the way I had a good time enjoying their witty exchanges and time spent at the ball park.  Go Get ‘Em, Rockets!

This is a follow-up sequel to The Change-Up and though its Jerry and Karen’s story, there is an assumption that Chase and Maddie’s story has been read.  I was glad to see a continuing story line with them to see some details wrapped up.  It was in the first book that both Jerry and Karen were introduced and it seems everyone, but Jerry and Karen caught a glimpse of their instant attraction.

Karen puts herself out there as a brassy, loud, confident woman who says and does what she wants.  When it comes to relationships, she’s the one who does the leaving.  No commitments, no promises, and definitely no feelings or she’s out of there.  Better yet, a quick one time only is even better.  Never again will she let a guy get past her walls to hurt her like Brian did.  She’s had a crush on Jerry Smutton, the Rocket’s ace pitcher, for some time and now that Maddie is engaged to Chase, she admits to a dream or two about seeing what he’s all about under that uniform.  She convinces herself that he’s probably a stuck on himself jerk now that he has a contract that was the biggest and longest in baseball history.  But she’s willing to give him a go and brush him off just like any other man who has the potential to hurt her.

Jerry doesn’t know what it is about the bold and sassy Karen Bently, but he wants to get something going with her.  He doesn’t do relationships and he’s not interested in anything permanent because the game has his focus, but he wouldn’t mind having some fun with her.  He’s very observant so it doesn’t miss his notice that she has some issues of her own.  If he wants her to say yes, then he has to keep her off balance and off her game.  Between casual dates and checking out houses together, he has her where he wants her, but then he starts to see what he has and he likes her.

That’s when things go south.  Karen freaks when she senses something significant between them, his game goes off and before he can collect the pieces, the unthinkable happens.

I found the other book in the series engaging because it put the ‘sport’ in sports romance and this one continued with that same level of balance.  I enjoyed how the author balanced the sports backdrop, the character development and the romance.  Character development of the three is the focus.  The narrative switches back and forth between Jerry and Karen which is nice.  There is an opportunity to get to know both of them.  In Karen’s case, she spends a lot of time in her head.  Jerry, as a pitcher, works hard not to spend any time in his own head.  They both see things very differently.  For most of the book the conflict is over the relationship, but I enjoyed that zinger near the end the author tossed at me that upped the ante on things for the characters and tossed in an external conflict issue.

As to the characters, here in lies my only issue with the story.  Just as in the last book, the heroine tends to freak out and make it all about herself.  She makes it way harder than it needs to be and she frustrated the heck out of me when I had to read it.  Not that I mean to go all Freud on things, but her crap is not about men like she thinks or lets others think.  This gal had daddy issues.  Instead of dealing and healing, she becomes a manhater and takes almost sadistic glee in using guys and tossing them aside.  I feel sorry for her because stuff like an absent dad and a broken relationship do leave there marks, but its how she let it twist her that became the problem.  The lying and denying over and over got frustrating.  I was honestly done when her reaction during the hospital scene was to run off and make it all about herself when a guy lies in a hospital bed injured.

The other main character redeemed things somewhat.  He has his flaws, but he owned them, dealt with them and moved forward. Jerry is the ace pitcher of the squad and he feels he has something to prove since he got such a big contract.  He works hard and I loved that a good portion of the book speaks to that.  Jerry has these issues and he’s at a point in his life where he both fears and longs for some permanency.  He sees his buddies getting into serious relationships and putting down roots and for the first time, this doesn’t exactly repel him.  His thing with Karen has him turned upside down and inside out.  She gets his attention and he sees that she’s high maintenance.  He knows nothing with her would be easy, but almost subconsciously Jerry accepts the daunting challenge.  He tries to follow his usual MO when it comes to women, but it is different from the beginning and he finally has to acknowledge that.  I respected that he understood what his confusion was doing to Karen so he apologized and was honest with her.

Overall, it was an engaging read.  I struggled with the heroine, but could get past it for the hero and the baseball plot threads.  I would love to get Bucky’s story and continue to get glimpses in with Chase and Maddie and Jerry and Karen.  For Sports Romance lovers who enjoy baseball as the backdrop and a tough relationship issue to tackle, do give this one a try.

My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Hrm. I do love those sports romances! I don’t know about the heroine. The daddy issue thing grates on me–probably because I had an absentee one and just don’t get the *grrrr* I’m gonna use that as my excuse for…everything and being hateful about men bit. The rest though sounds fantastic. I’ve got book one on my list so gonna start there and at least knowing going in on this one I can prepare myself. lol Isn’t it weird how sometimes that helps when dealing with little blips like that?

    • That’s me too. If I know to expect the angst then I can prepare, yep! Oh and its daddy issues and a guy who walked away from her in college sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

      I get irritated that a bad relationship equates to all men being bad b/c I know several women out there who are Queen Bs and that doesn’t make me one just b/c we share the same anatomy- doesn’t make sense. And Jeez most of us have had our hearts stomped on by somebody whether parent, lover or friend so again why act like her issue is special. I would have been okay with some wariness and that only makes sense, but to the extent some of these stories take it just leaves me shaking my head.

      That all being said, I still like the baseball romances and stories in this series so far.

      • Exactly. I’ve never understood that. I get having your heart broken but then blaming everyone else who is the same gender? Nah. Ah well. Gotta have the angst somehow I guess. I put book one on my short list for shopping 🙂