Berkley Sensation, 2009
Genre & Keywords: Contemporary, Sports: Baseball
Heat level: ¹½
I’ve read a few Blazes by Jill Shalvis before. Just Try Me, Shadow Hawk and Room Service are really lovely and steamy reads. That’s why I wanted to give one of her other romances a try. What attracted me in Double Play was the setting of this sports world, baseball to be exact. And of course the yummie cover! I mean, look at it...
And the story didn’t disappoint me, Double Play was a fun, sexy read.
So, reading Double Play was enjoying. There were a lot of things to like but also a few things that had me raise my eyebrows. So, I like to share my High 5, Low 5 with you. The High Five are five things that have impressed me or that I really enjoyed, and the Low Five are five things that had me shaking my head in wonder or annoyance.
First the Back Blurb:
Getting to first base is a cinch...But getting home will take a grand slam...
Pace Martin is the ace pitcher for the Pacific Heat. He's got the arm, the experience, and the wins. He's also got the pain, the pressure, and the possible end of his career looming over him. The last thing he needs now is a distraction, even if it comes in the form of a tough, beautiful, tell-it-like-it-is writer who sees past his defenses.
Holly Hutchins knows a good story when she sees one, and the tall, dark, and slightly attitude-challenged Pace Martin fits the bill. But when she realizes there's more at stake than just a win, she starts to see the handsome, broad-shouldered jock in a different light.
Pace and Holly begin a seductive game, but in the face of unexpected betrayal and challenges, they'll have to find the courage to swing for the fences...
• Funny, witty writing
Jill Shalvis’ witty way of telling her story makes this book alluring from the first page. Her writing is funny and light until the last page and that makes this a very enjoyable and easy read. Here’re the first few paragraphs so you can see for yourself (and it gets better further down the book):
“If Pace Martin had the choice between sex and a nap, he’d actually take the nap, and wasn’t that just pathetic enough to depress him. But his shoulder hurt like a mother and so did his damn pride.
Go home and rest, Pace.
That had been his physical therapist’s advice, but Pace could rest when he was old and far closer to dead than thirtyone. In the locker room, he bent down to untie his cleats and nearly whimpered like a baby.” (p. 1)
• Entertaining dialogues
The same goes for the dialogues, which are a pleasure to read. Not only because they are quick and funny but vibrant as well. This made the interaction between the H/h very appealing.
• Non-typical adonis hero
Pace is a hot alpha-athlete, at least he looks like one with all the delectable muscles in the right places. But he isn’t acting like one; although he is the star of the team, he doesn’t like to be the one in the spotlights. I think this is an attractive combination. Clearly that’s what Holly thinks too. He actually isn’t all that charming or easy-going at the beginning. But when his gruff and surly ways transform into one of his sexy smiles, he is all the more attractive. Combined with his edible bod he becomes hot as sin in an instant. Holly is a perfect match for him, by the way. I liked her as well, because she’s sassy, spunky, open and honest. And once Pace gets to know her, he starts to notice her beautiful hair and eyes as well.
• Well developed storyline about trust
The issues with trust that Pace and Holly have are made convincible by their background stories. Ms. Shalvis shows cleverly the gradual alteration in her protags, concerning this topic. It’s not hard to understand Pace’s distrust because of Holly’s profession and history of revealing secrets at her blog. But her direct way with her feelings makes him eventually see that he can trust her. Although there are a few bumps in the road to overcome, of course. These trust issues was what the story thrived on mainly. Fortunately, the author worked out this theme pretty good, but it edged on becoming repetitive and boring.
• Rich surroundings with real people
Very persuasive was the integral world, complete with a network of friends and colleagues, that the author created around the protags. Pace and Holly’s network is big and full with real people. Of course not all of them are three-dimensional characters but they do make a great supporting cast. I like that in my romances!
• Overwhelming detail
Although it was pretty interesting, the amount of detail of the behind the scenes life of a baseball pro sometimes got in the way of the love story. The dealing with injuries, superstitions and crazy fans was all very entertaining, but I sometimes couldn’t help thinking “Hurry up, let’s get to the important stuff here”.
• Not steamy enough
And with the first low comes the second one: for my taste there was not enough of the goodies in this book! The quantity of the making out was okay I guess, but the hot sex did just occur a couple of times. Not that the sex scenes weren’t hot or steamy but we had to wait way past the middle of the book before ‘the deed’ actually happened. The sexual tension until then was pretty fabulous though, with them flirting and kissing. And I must admit that maybe the vigor of this story is that it’s not about the ‘act’ between the H/h but the love story they are involved in.
• Lot of time skipping and elapsing
I don’t mind some time elapses in a romance at all, because they are necessary to make it credible that the H/h are learning to know each other better. But in Double Play there are a lot of them. Imo too many, because I felt that some of them happened at a moment that things started to get interesting. In those moments I wished the author would have explored and described some more of what was going on between Pace and Holly. But no, the scene ended and instead of picking up where they left in the next chapter (for example from a different POV), another day/week started. Frustrating!
• Incredible interference of coach
I didn’t buy it that a coach of a pro baseball team would go to the extent that Pace’s coach went to forestall one of his players to jinx the game. The superstition theme was a bit incredible in a whole but the part where everybody believes it will bring bad luck when Pace and Holly sleep together was outrageous! And the worst thing was that Pace gave in to this nonsense. Really?
• Baseball quotes
I kept wondering what was up with the baseball quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I probably didn’t get it because I’m not an American and don’t know much about baseball. It looks like something you might find in a literary novel but not in a romance though.
So, this were my five highs and lows. I did like Double Play pretty much. It had funny dialogues, witty writing, loveable protags and great sexual tension. It’s a sexy and sweet sports romance and I’m looking forward to the next book Slow Heat that will tell Wade’s story, Pace’s friend and team mate. It will be released in February 2010.