Publication date: 03/12/2020
Kindle Unlimited: Yes
Well, when I asked a while ago which book on my TBR list y'all wanted to see me review the most, this one won by a landslide. And for about 90% of the book, I was really loving this choice. But...
I kind of feel about this book like I did about the other one I read in this series, The Dugout. I was loving it...and then it kind of face-planted on the landing.
Pro baseball player Corey ends up as a third wheel on a romantic couples trip with the only other single, Natalie. Corey likes Natalie a lot, but she's fresh off a divorce and he doesn't want to be her rebound. Lots of angst and misunderstandings ensue.
This is an age gap (he's 9 years older), sports romance featuring a cinnamon roll, nice-guy hero and a smart, funny, quirky, divorced heroine. It also features one of my all-time favorites: the old "there's only one bed," forced proximity, slow burn romance.
I really liked Corey. He's a SUPER nice guy. He's confident, but not cocky. Nice and respectful, but a dirty talker when the lights go out. I loved that he pretty much immediately fell for Natalie, but didn't want to be her rebound fling--he wanted commitment. It's not easy to find heroes, especially pro athlete heroes, who aren't manwhore alphaholes. He has pretty much zero emotional baggage, which was refreshing. I had zero complaints about him.
Natalie was a good heroine, too. She had some emotional scarring as a result of her a-hole ex, but she didn't let it keep her down. At a few points in the story, I wished she'd be able to see her own worth, as opposed to letting how her ex made her feel define how she interacted with men (she felt like she wasn't good enough for Corey, which was just irritating because she was awesome), but I let it slide because it was pretty clear how those feelings of self-doubt had come to pass.
Now, where this one took a serious nose-dive for me was towards the end. Corey, under a ton of pressure (he's just been traded to another baseball team, and the fans and the media pretty much treat him like crap), pushes Natalie away, just like Carson did in The Dugout. I probably would've been OK with that if the estrangement had lasted, like, oh, I don't know...a week. But it lasted for 7 months! It just seemed a little excessive, and frankly a little out-of-character for the nice guy Corey was up until that point in the book.
But, face-plant ending notwithstanding, when Corey did get his crap together and come back to Natalie, he groveled nicely, so I ultimately forgave him for his asshattery.
I also liked that while he was gone, Natalie was sad, but she didn't sit around pining for him. She went on with her life. She got big points for that in my book.
So, long-story-short, even with the less-than-stellar ending, I enjoyed this book. It's worth a read. Just be prepared for that point in the story where you'll want to reach through your Kindle and nut-punch Corey. (Because trust me, y'all, it will happen).
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
No rehab needed. This one’s clean and sober.