Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Jackson Evans has been a steady, solid player in baseball’s minor leagues for fifteen years. He spent a little time in the majors, but his chance was cut short, and he can’t help but blame the open secret of his sexuality. But Jackson loves the game, and he’ll play until he can’t anymore. Getting traded, yet again, this time to the Raleigh Rogues, isn’t exactly a surprise, and he’s not dumb. Jackson knows he’s there for a reason. He’s got a reputation as a catcher who can settle down any pitcher. And Connor Clark definitely needs his help.

Connor is a pitcher with plenty of heat, and tons of raw talent. But he’s a bit of a hot head, thinks too much, and though he can pitch any throw, he’s erratic. Connor puts a lot of pressure on himself, but he’s young, and he knows he’s headed for greatness. The problem is that sometime his arrogance gets in the way. When he first meets Jackson, the two butt heads. And continue to do so, as Jackson is as stubborn as Connor, and won’t let Connor get away with anything.

The more they work together, their contentious relationship starts to soften into somewhat of a friendship. But the problem for Connor is that he’s also seeing Jackson in a way that he’s never looked at any man before. Constantly being in each other’s pocket doesn’t help, but it doesn’t take long for Connor to accept his sexuality and try to make a move. But Jackson keeps him at arm’s length, insisting that they can’t do anything about the mutual attraction.

However, the chemistry between them won’t be denied, and they both give in. Their relationship goes to the next level, and so does Connor’s pitching, now that he’s actually listening to Jackson’s advice. When Connor gets called up, Jackson doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize Connor’s career. But Connor won’t let Jackson go, and it will take some real conversation and a heartfelt declaration before the two of them can find their happily ever after.

Beth Bolden is not an author I’ve read before, but the premise of this one was intriguing and I was quick to pick it up. There’s a lot I liked about this book, and some things that didn’t work as well for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a baseball romance, and I really enjoyed the way Bolden incorporated the sport into this story.

For both the MCs, baseball is their life, and I really liked the juxtaposition of one MC being at the end of his career while the other one was just beginning. The chemistry between the two was great, and really drove the story. Jackson is stubborn and cool headed, even when he’s seething on the inside. He doesn’t let that emotion show and doesn’t let Connor get away with anything. It’s this that ultimately helps Connor settle down, both in the game and in his own head. I liked that even when Connor was throwing tantrums, Jackson was unmoved. He was there to play the best game he could, and that meant helping Connor improve.

Connor starts out appearing to be nothing more than an arrogant hot head, but it’s quickly revealed that underneath, he’s got some insecurity. I really liked how well developed he was as a character, and the growth he went through throughout the story. Personally and professionally, he put in the work and became a better person. Part of that is, of course, due to Jackson and their relationship. Again, it was on both the personal and professional levels, and I loved the parallels between the two. These guys work, on and off the field, and it was fun to read.

But this book is on the longer side, and I admit the pacing didn’t always work for me. I hesitate to call this a slow burn romance, because it’s not exactly that. But it does take a while for the two men to finally get to a place where they admit feelings and take their relationship from friends to more. But it’s not because they don’t want each other. This part of the plot worked really well for me. But by the same token, there were sections of this book that seemed to drag for me, longer scenes that didn’t do much to advance the plot. There were portions where the lack of action slowed the story down too much and I was ready to move to the next scene before the characters were.

Overall, I liked this book. The dual third-person narrative enhanced the story because we got to understand both MCs’ motivations well. The chemistry between the MCs is great, the secondary characters really fleshed out the story, and baseball is well incorporated into the storyline. If you’re a fan of sports romance, then this one is a good one to check out.