This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin
Released on December 1, 2014
This book was a hit out of the ball park with me. I love rooting for the underdogs and this was a romance of two struggling, but very determined people who just needed a chance to show that the faith placed in them had not been misplaced. Their story is set against the backdrop of a minor league ball club trying to come out of several slumping seasons.
This baseball romance written by a new to me author had a refreshing and intriguing twist to it that caught my eye and made me eager to pick up this story. Yes, there is a handsome, brooding pitcher for the hero with inner demons to fight as he gets a last chance to make good, but the heroine is his team manager- a lady professional ball player and manager. Kathunk! Right? She’s talented and skilled to do the job, but has her own demons to slay and she thinks one of those is her unwanted attraction to the team’s ace who isn’t too keen on a lady boss.
Garrett is a recovering alcoholic who started drinking because of the guilt and burden he carries from his past. His life now is all about redemption and proving himself with this last chance to turn his career around. Unfortunately, he plays on a team that is unmotivated and floundering with the vacuum in leadership and direction. Garrett’s got a problem with his pitching and is frustrated that he can’t figure out the problem. Then the new manager shows up- a woman that he happens to be strongly attracted too- and she has all the answers. Dare he listen to her when none of the other coaches see what she sees? And while he really should keep his mind firmly on baseball and staying sober, he can’t stop thinking about Heather even when she pushes him away hard letting him know that she can’t be with a guy like him- a drunk that can’t be trusted. It hurts, but he can’t deny that its true.
Heather has achieved beyond most people’s wildest dreams, but it is never enough for her dad. Her dad’s health and finances puts him in a bind with the team he owns and she begs him for a chance to prove that she can handle the team before he gives them up. In doing so, she hopes to finally get his approval. It’s just been her and him since her drug-addicted mother finally left them after nearly killing her in a car accident because she was DUI. Her dad agrees to let her finish out the season and then he’ll talk to the interested buyers about selling. She has the rest of the season to gain the team’s confidence in listening to a woman manager, to fix the problems she sees in the players, and convince her dad to keep her on and not sell. That should be enough to keep her busy, but yet she finds her thoughts drifting to the ace pitcher who makes it clear at the start that he wants out of his contract, then he doesn’t trust her opinion about his pitching problem and finally he has a strong aversion to getting involved in her chosen community outreach program for some mysterious reason. When he showed interest in her as a person, she pushed him away knowing that she’ll probably never develop the trust necessary for a relationship after all the lying and hurt her mom’s addictions caused her and he takes it with a forgiving spirit so why can’t she accept her own decision?
The story isn’t just a romance with a bit of sports off in the distance to qualify it as a sports romance- no there is lots of baseball for the game lover- neither is is just an isolated romance between two people involved in sports though there is a sweet slow developing romance presence through the story.
This is a heartwarming story of two broken individuals who need to grow and they both have tough paths to get there. Along the way, they come together and support each other though its hard to read when the heroine’s insecurities push them apart. It was a sobering reminder of the damage that addiction can do not only to the person addicted, but by their loved ones too. Heather was hard on Garrett, but I can’t exactly say that she’s way out in left field since she had lived with it. Did I think it was fair to Garrett? No, but unfortunately he is the one who must be strong and prove that he isn’t like her mom was. Fortunately, he’s a strong guy and cares enough to do just that.
The story isn’t all heavy feeling and tension. There is also lightness and hope too. It was so well-rounded in scope, paced well and included such well drawn characters both in the primary and secondary roles that I just kept reading and finished it in two sittings. This is definitely for the Sports Romance lover, but I would broaden my recommendation to also include any Contemporary Romance fans that likes an emotionally challenging sweet romance between characters that make one want to cheer them on for the win.
My thanks to the author and to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.