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Book Cover Lawson’s review of Double Play by Jill Shalvis
Contemporary romance released by Berkley Sensation 7 Jul 09

Summer is in full swing which means going to the beach or sitting poolside, or eve going to a baseball game. Here’s one great way to bring baseball to you, no matter where you are. Shalvis starts a new series about baseball players at the fictional Pacific Heat which fits the bill for sexy summer fun and lots of baseball. This is the first book by Shalvis that I’ve read, but I will say she’s got me hooked and I want to go find more to get a fix for this new habit of mine.

Holly Hutchins is a blog writer who has gotten national attention for her hard hitting articles that uncover secrets in unexpected places. After a stint in the space industry, she’s been assigned to write about the Pacific Heat, an expansion team based in Santa Barbara, Ca. She’s starting to feel dissatisfied with her traveling lifestyle and not being able to trust the people she meets since her job is to uncover the things that people are hiding.

Pace Martin is used to people trying to pry things out of him, but Holly is a bit different. Though he doesn’t want her readers and the rest of the world to know about a nagging shoulder injury, her ability to show her care about him while separating it from her work intrigues him. And he can’t stop his attraction to her, even if she isn’t his type. The realities of life in the public, Holly’s job and the life of a professional baseball player all play their part in getting in the way, but Holly and Pace have to choose what’s most important to them to get safely to home (to use a baseball metaphor).

Both Holly and Pace are great characters. They show depths of their personalities as the story progresses, but Shalvis makes sure the characters stay true to who they are when they first meet in the first chapter. Holly is driven, but lonely after a hard childhood never trusting her mother and not knowing if she’d have money for food and basic clothing. Making this into a career into investigative online journalism has continued her life into constant moving and not forming solid relationships.

Pace has been struggling with a shoulder injury that could potentially end his career. While he knows it could come eventually, he knows that right now is not the time. His integrity in turning down the temptations that could truly end his career shows he’s got more than just ambition to be the best, but a true love of the game. It also shows Pace the need to take stock of his circumstances and still do the things he’s been doing, which is just as rewarding as his baseball career.

The interactions and conversations of Holly and Pace also worked really well, and there’s several scenes in a shower that definitely steams things more than just the residual heat left over from hot water. The other thing is that though Holly is a journalist, she’s always honest about what she’s writing and why and never tries to hide or lie to pace or anyone associated with the team. Pace, though not wanting his injury public knowledge, doesn’t lie to Holly about anything he’s done, even when he’s caught in a scandal.

The other star of the story, baseball, is a welcome addition. I will admit that though I like baseball I don’t know much about it. What was given in this book seemed to be the real deal to me, from locker room conversations to how the players may act on their off time. The story even contains a secondary plotline about the issue of performance enhancers and the effect on baseball and the players which fit in well with not only the story, but putting baseball in the context of today’s views of the game. The romance did suffer a slight amount due to some of the baseball things, but everything worked well with the story and the characterizations.

The next book in the series follows the catcher of the team and the team PR exec, and as long as it’s as enjoyable as Double Play (which I know it will) I will follow this series to the end of the 9th inning.

lawson-icon.jpgGrade: A-

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 go 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 distractions, 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. . .
Read an excerpt here.