This was recommended to me several times at the Lori Foster/Dianne Castell get together in Ohio. And it really is my type of book. Very Rachel Gibson-like. Only think baseball, not hockey. I normally don’t retell plot all the way through, but the retelling is so fun, I feel I must. This revolves around a baseball star who comes home to his small town frequently to visit his “rebound” lover. They have been best friends and lovers since high school, and have been secretly in love with and faithful to each other despite living in separate cities and their agreement that he will be her rebound lover. This time, he comes back determined to win her for good. Risk and Jacy are a sweet and fun couple, and I enjoyed their story. It was escapist fun. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about, either. I knew they were in love, knew they would end up together. The trip there was a blast.
The secondary romance was the real story here. Stay with me now. Zen (his name even implies he’s solid and even-keeled, doesn’t it?) and Stevie (Jacy’s best friend). Put your seat belt on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Let’s see. Zen, also a ball player, comes to town with Risk to recover from an injury. Stevie and Zen are immediately attracted to one another. But Stevie has been in love with Aaron, star pitcher and also Jacy’s cousin, forever. They have been an item for that long, and the whole town expects them to get married. Aaron is also in town, but unexpectedly announces his engagement to his team owner’s daughter, Natalie. She gets off on sex in public places, which is why Zen dumped her long ago. But Natalie has always wanted him back. Yes, she’s engaged to Aaron, but she views Zen as the one who got away. Confused yet? Is it beginning to sound like Who’s on First? I haven’t even gotten to the Bat Pack yet... the young upstarts who like to treat Risk, Zen and Aaron like old men.
Ho-kay. So. Zen and Stevie are immediately attracted to each other, but she is in love with Aaron, and he doesn’t poach on other men’s territory. Once Aaron makes his announcement, Stevie and Zen are free to let their feelings of friendship blossom into something more. They finally have fantastic sex. When Aaron comes to say goodbye, the Bat Pack tries to kick him out for hurting Stevie, and Zen tells them to let Stevie say goodbye. He inadvertently walks in on a true and final goodbye hug, but misinterprets it. So, Zen, being the unselfish, magnanimous, giver that he is, hops in the limo with Natalie and drives off into the sunset, figuring that Stevie and Aaron will have their HEA. Idiot.
Okay. While this was the more interesting of the two romances, obviously it was full of problems. Problem 1. Why, oh, why, did no one give Aaron any crap about dumping Stevie?! Not his cousin. And Stevie is her best friend. Lord knows, she knows Aaron well enough to give him crap. Not his good friend Risk. And he even got the “I’m not having sex with you because you knew about this” line from Jacy. Not any of the townspeople, who adore Stevie. Not a soul except a few young ball players who lived to give the older players crap about anything. What is up with that?
Okay. Problem 2. Zen totally trusted Stevie to go say goodbye to Aaron alone in the kitchen. That fits. So why would he misinterpret the little goodbye hug right off the bat and leave without a word? Totally un-Zen-like. I didn’t buy it.
Now the fun part. Aaron was really uncomfortable with the public sex. After Natalie leaves with Zen, he has lots of dreams about the two of them doing it in public. Natalie, on the other hand, has lots of dreams of Aaron dominating her in private. She realizes that she actually really loves him. Zen, who’s been sleeping on the couch the whole time, begs Stevie to take him back, and she does – right away! Doesn’t make him suffer. I would have made him suffer, miserably. Maybe she’s a better person than me.
Well, there you have it. 3 romances in one. This was a zany, madcap, crazy, fun book. If you can get past the problems with the characterizations, and take it at face value, it is a fun, one-evening quickie, very reminiscent of a Rachel Gibson novel.