Heather Gadway may have been a world-class college pitcher and a top university coach, but she's a rank amateur when it comes to managing the Falcons, her father's struggling minor-league team. And when it comes to managing her aggravating attraction to Garrett Wolf, their talented new pitcher. It's going to be difficult enough to make it as the first female manager in the league and prove to her overly critical father she's worthy. No distractions. No missteps. And certainly no romances with players. Everything stands between themincluding their troubled pastseven as Heather's world falls apart and Garrett's the one who's there to catch her
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If Heather Gadway's cell phone hadn't already been dead, she would have killed it.
She peered at the blank screen, then squinted at the sun overhead, picturing her frowning father getting sent straight to her voice mail again. Ever since she'd moved to California, he'd insisted they speak every morning. He'd probably left his version of a warm-and-fuzzy message, one she imagined sounded like this:
"Heather. For Pete's sake. Charge your phone. Next time put the cord next to your makeup. Then you'll actually remember the darn thing needs juice."
After a silence punctuated with grumpy noises, he'd end with, "Call me back so I know you're alive"
She grabbed another softball from a nearby bucket and tossed it to her rookie Morro Bay University pitcher. If she asked to borrow her player's phone, she could probably shoot off a text to her father, but a part of her rebelled at the thought. She hadn't remembered to charge the phone again, but it wasn't the end of the world. In fact, it was possible that she'd been ducking her cell lately, and half-forgetting to charge the battery, because she wanted a little breathing room from her dad's too-frequent check-ins. She was twenty-seven, not seven. She'd earned the right to go twenty-four hours without a call.
"You're spraying the ball," she pointed out to Alicia as other girls in bright blue uniforms stretched or ran plays around the wide green field outside the chain link bullpen. A few lined up near the plate, taking hitting practice with their batting coach. "Watch that release point."
Heather took off her visor and swiped a hand across her wet brow. It seemed as if they'd been at this for hours, and she was melting right along with the ice in the cooler. But she wouldn't give up on Alicia, even though her father needed reassuring. As the pitching coach, Heather realized the team's newest recruit depended on her. She'd been in those cleats nine years ago and knew how nervous the first-year student felt.
Alicia pulled off her sunglasses and squinted at Heather from the mound. "Too early or too late?"
"Depends on the pitch. Stay consistent." Heather smiled encouragingly despite her unease. Ideally this phone lapse would earn her only a lecture for missing their daily check-in, an important routine her father had stuck to since nearly losing her fourteen years ago.
She twisted her wrist sweatband. With twenty minutes left in this session, Dad would have to wait. Not exactly his strong suit. As the owner of a Triple-A Minor League baseball team, he almost always got what he wanted. Few said no to Dave Gadway. Definitely not Heather.
"We need to replicate that point of release every single time," she added, forcing her attention back on Alicia. "Feel where the ball is coming off your fingertips." She pantomimed a pitch, arcing her arm back and then sweeping it forward, her fingers unfurling at her waist.
The girl's blond brows came together. "Am I going to be ready for tomorrow's game?" She tossed the softball to Heather.
After snatching it from the air, Heather twirled the familiar sphere of white, seamed leather in her palm, loving the feel and the good memories that came with it. For much of her life, playing sports had been her escape. The one place in her chaotic childhood she'd had some control. But as a former Red Tails pitcher herself, she knew that pitching was a high-pressure position.
Heather pasted a confident look on her face. Instilling self-assurance in her players was important, especially with the young ones like Alicia.
"Of course. We'll keep pitching until we get it. Let's slow it down a little. Put you back in the strike zone. We need to get the feel back for the release point." She flipped the ball to her player.
"Got it." Alicia's shoulders lowered, and the first smile of the day ghosted across her lightly freckled face.
Their bullpen catcher, Bucky, stood and waved from the opposite end of the fenced-in area. He might be over forty feet away and wearing a mask, but Heather could picture the older man's scowl. "We playing catch or pitching? Haven't got all day here."
Heather cupped her hands around her mouth. Despite years on the field, she'd always been soft-spoken, her words clinging to the back of her throat before she forced them out. It was a holdover from time spent tiptoeing around her volatile mother. "Sorry, Bucky. All set now."
Bucky swatted the air with his mitt and crouched again, pounding his fist into the leather's center. "Let's go, girlies!"
Alicia's brow furrowed and her fingers gripped the ball as she peered down the line. Good, thought Heather. She wasn't letting well-meaning but crotchety Bucky get to her. Sports were as much a mental game as they were a physical one. Alicia had to focus, or no amount of speedand the first-year student was fast at nearly seventy miles an hourwould help her win games.
With a breathy grunt, Alicia wound up and released the ball off her fingertips. Slower this time, waist-high, perfect form, Heather observed before she heard the satisfying crack in the catcher's mitt.
"St-eee-rike!" hollered Bucky, jabbing the air with his fist before hurling the ball back toward the mound. "Keep it there, sweetie pie!"
Heather bit back a smile. Bucky worked with nationally ranked athletes, but it didn't stop him from using endearments that made some of the girls blush. If there was a "sweetie pie" in the bullpen, it was crusty Bucky. The Red Tails were lucky to have this veteran assisting and warming up pitchers during practices and games.
"Way to go, ace!" Heather exclaimed as she scratched her eternally peeling nose. No matter how much sunscreen she slathered on it, she resembled Rudolph year round.
Alicia nodded without turning her head, her eyes on Bucky. The low buzzing of a lawn tractor grew louder as it neared, mowing diagonal green lines in the outfield, where it wouldn't interfere with the infield practice. The smells of freshly cut grass and the honeysuckle growing up the fence mingled in the soft spring air. Heather hoped Alicia noticed none of this and was, instead, zoned in on getting another strike not preoccupied with issues off the field like Heather was. Argh. Even thousands of miles away in North Carolina, her father still stirred the pot of her life.
She gnawed the inside of her cheek. His letting go was about as likely to happen as her actually wearing makeup, something he'd know if he paid attention to more than her mistakes.
Alicia wound up and released the ball, snapping Heather out of her thoughts. She grinned before she heard the catcher's mitt pop. Nice! Right down the middle.
"St-eee-rike!" roared Bucky, and he winged the ball back at the mound. "You split the plate in half with that one, doll face!"
Alicia's mitt folded around the ball, and she brought it back to her chest before turning to Heather. "Same speed?"
Heather gave her a fist bump, then raised her radar gun. "No. Let's put a little something more on it."
Alicia's teeth caught her lower lip. Then she nodded and faced forward, her back straight.
A blur of white exploded from Alicia's side and smacked straight into Bucky's mitt.
"Sixty-eight." Heather glanced up from the digital display and gave a thumbs-up. "Excellent control and speed. Let's get a few more over the dish, and then we'll go for the corners."
"Sounds good." Alicia grabbed the ball Bucky winged at her and began again, her determination exactly what Heather had hoped to see when she'd brought her out for this one-on-one session.
The young woman had the makings of a standout athlete: a strong work ethic, a positive attitude and talent. It was why she'd lobbied for Chris, Morro Bay's director of softball operations, to recruit Alicia, despite her small size and inconsistent arm. Growing up around her father's team had taught Heather a lot about spotting potential, and Alicia had it in spades.
Twenty minutes later, Heather lowered her radar gun and waved at Bucky. "All set, thanks!" she called.
The older man pulled off his mask, his red face wet with sweat, his helter-skelter gray hair defying the laws of gravity. He headed up the line with a rolling gait and grabbed a sports drink from the cooler. After a long swig, he lowered it and pointed the bottle at Heather.
"Alicia reminds me of you. Mark my words. She's small, but she's got a big future. Might even beat that record of yours."
A gasp sounded beside Heather, and she glanced at a round-eyed Alicia.
"No one is ever going to win more than one hundred and fifty games," Alicia said reverently. "Coach Gadway's a legend."
Heather popped the top off a drink and handed it to her flushed, tired-looking player. Sometimes young athletes forgot the simplest things, like staying hydrated. "Oh. I wouldn't be sure about that. Records are made to be broken."
After Heather's sharp glance prompted her to throw back a long gulp, Alicia blurted, "Not yours. You were my idol growing up. I cut out all of your articles when you played here."
"Thanks, Alicia. That means a lot. And you" Her throat closed around the rest of her sentence, something that happened whenever her heart spoke instead of her brain. "You inspire me, too." She returned Alicia's hug, then busied herself packing up their gear, never comfortable with praise. It touched her that she'd been a role model for Alicia. Sports were character building, especially in young women. They'd certainly saved her.
But if there was one thing she'd learned as a baseball team owner's daughter, fame was fleeting. Her real legacy, she hoped, would be helping other players, like Alicia, reach their potential.
"You're awesome, Coach," Alicia exclaimed as she grabbed the bucket of balls Heather passed her.
For a moment, Heather imagined how great it would have been if her father had heard that compliment, then shook the thought aside. If he had, he would have grumped that she should have pushed Alicia harder or some other criticism. It was his nature to point out faults, and he often found them in her. According to her childhood counselor, it was his way of showing he cared. If only it hadn't hurt more than it'd helped.
Behind them, Bucky hefted the cooler, and they headed for the exit. Sparrows took flight as they swung open the squealing gate and entered the large field, which was nearly ready for tomorrow's game. Heather paused for a moment and drank in the neatly raked and marked baselines, imagining the seats packed, the crowd cheering for Alicia and her first win. It'd be a great moment, and she hoped it came true.
Bucky snapped the padlock shut, breaking her out of her reverie. With a wave, he strode off toward the office area.
After Heather reassured the girl she'd do just fine in the upcoming game, Alicia went to the changing room, and Heather headed toward her office. She'd done solid work with Alicia today. In her gut, she knew she'd been right to recommend her, but ultimately, it all came down to the athlete's psyche. As much as she wished she could be in control, when it came to people, you couldn't count on anything. She'd learned that lesson the hard way.
Inside her small office, she sank into her flex-back chair and glanced up at the shelf holding her two USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year trophies. It'd been a long time since she'd felt the high of an achievement like that. As the youngest member of the coaching staff, she had a lot to prove.
She glanced at a picture of her father wearing his Triple-A Falcons team jacket and dropped her head into her hands. She wanted to show her dad she could succeed, too. It still stung that he'd vetoed her offer to come home to Holly Springs after college and work for the team, an institution that'd been in their family for three generations.
"You're not experienced enough, Heather," he'd said. "There's more to running a team than just being a great player."
And so far, without a recent division title, she hadn't proven him wrong. Although she worked with Morro Bay's head coach, helping him with roster moves and recruiting, they still hadn't put together a winning team.
With a sigh, she grabbed the landline. It was noon here, three o'clock in Holly Springs. He'd be out of the office, watching practice, no doubt.
An hour after leaving voice mail and text messages on her dad's cell, worry twisted her gut. Why wasn't he returning her call? Watching practice wouldn't stop him from getting back to her. She'd expected a lecture, not silence.
She punched in the number for Pete, the Falcons team manager. Fear fluttered inside her when the outgoing message stated that his number had been disconnected or changed. What was going on?
Scrolling through her contacts, she found Reed's cell number. Surely the Falcons hitting coach could give her some answers.
"Reed," he answered, curtly.
She relaxed at the sound of his familiar, scratchy voice. "Hi, Reed. It's Heather. I'm trying to get a hold of my"
"Heather. We've been calling you." His voice grew louder, and in the background an overhead PA system crackled, announcing a code blue.
Her heartbeat sped as she checked her missed calls and saw his number. Was Reed in a hospital? Was her father? "What's going on? Is Dad okay? Where's Pete?"
"Pete didn't renew his contract, so he left a week ago. As for your dad, I'm waiting for the doctor, so I'm not sure. Wait. Here's somebody in a white coat."
Heather's fingers tightened around the handset. Oh. God. No. At sixty, her bull of a father had never been sick a day in his life. It had to be serious if he'd agreed to go to the hospital. Orshe squeezed her eyes shutworse yet, there'd been no choice.
"I'm putting the doctor on, Heather. Hold on."
There was a moment of silence, and then a woman's voice came across the line.
Heather's answer seemed sucked into the cleft between her collarbones. After a long moment, she gasped out, "Yes?"
"This is Dr. Freeman. I'm afraid your father suffered a heart attack today that's damaged his left ventricle."
"Is he going to be all right?" Her voice cracked. Suddenly she was eighteen again, leaving home for California, looking at a world that, for the first time, would not include her father. Back then she'd feared the distance separating them. But this this could be permanent.
"He has stenosisnarrowingin two of his coronary arteries that we'll treat with angioplasty and stents. However, another, smaller artery is blocked. We'll hold off on a bypass to see if he's improved after the first procedure. If so, we'll simply manage the occluded artery medically."
The doctor's words raced through her mind too fast to make sense. "An angioplasty?" A halting gap appeared between her questions, endless seconds when the words cowered against her lips. "A stent?"
On the other end of the line, the physician cleared her throat. "I'm sorry to rush through all of this, but surgery is in thirty minutes."
"Thirty minutes?" Heather repeated, peering at her watch. Her father's operation would be underway before she boarded a flight. She needed to be there. Now.
She tapped her keyboard and brought up screens with flights.
"Yes. Given the degree of atherosclerosis and his symptoms, it's best to act quickly. I have every confidence in this procedure. His prognosis looks good if he makes some changes in what I understand is a stressful life, including healthier eating, exercising and more relaxation."
Heather blinked in surprise. Her wired father never took a day off. And if Pete was no longer managing the Falcons, Dad was under more pressure than ever.
"That being said, I can't make any promises," the doctor continued. "Do you have any questions?"
Heather pinched the bridge of her nose. She knew that life didn't come with guarantees. Yet somehow, naively, she hadn't believed that rule applied to her father. He was her rock. Tough. Unyielding. Immune to weaknesses. Here was a chink in his armor, and it shook her to her core.
She scribbled a question on a note card, then read the question aloud: "When will he be out of surgery?" It was a speech therapy trick she hadn't used in years. She'd outgrown most of her speech issues except in the most extreme situations.
"If all goes well, two hours, then another hour or so before he's released to his room."
"Will you tell him " Heather's words halted in her tight throat, the passage blocked. She clicked on an online ticket and noted the arrival time. " tell him I'll be there by five? Eight your time."
"I'll note it in the chart. Your father is in good hands."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
RATING 4.5 STARS A League of Her Own by Karen Rock, is a Heartwarming Harlequin Romance. I won this book in a give-a-way package. Heather Gadway is twenty seven years old. In college she was an award winning pitcher and now she is a college coach in California. Heather’s dad is the sole owner of a minor league baseball team, The Falcons, in their home town of Holly Springs, North Carolina. Heather has grown up around baseball. It’s all she has ever known. Her mother is an addict and Heather hasn’t seen her since she was thirteen years old. So her dad and baseball are her world. Garrett Wolf is the new pitcher for The Falcons. Mr. Gadway gave him a chance when no one else would. Garrett is a recovering alcoholic but he is clean and sober. Every day is still a struggle but he is determined to stay that way. His dream is to make it to the major leagues and to do that, he has to be at the top of his game with the Falcons. Garrett grew up in foster care with very little memory of his mother. Baseball and staying sober is his only focus. It’s all he wants. When Heather’s dad suffers a mild heart attack, Heather rushes home to take care of him. It’s then that she discovers that The Falcons are struggling financially. Her dad is considering selling. But she can’t stand the thought of letting this team go, so she convinces her dad to take her on temporarily as a new manager. She would be the very first minor league female manager. He gives her until the end of the season to turn the team around, or he’s selling. Heather knows as a female manager, she has to always be professional with the players to earn their respect. That becomes a struggle from the start, though, with Garrett. There is something there, a pull, an attraction. But she's the boss and there can be nothing between them. When she learns that he is an alcoholic, that gives her even more reason to stay away. She would never put herself in a position to be hurt by another addict after her experiences with her mother. “Their childhoods were different, but they’d sustained the same damage. It connected them. Maybe that’s why she was opening up. Still, he sensed she couldn’t ever fully let him in.” Heather gives the team everything she has, but they are slow to accept her. She also wants to involve her team in the community so she starts a camp for the boys living in foster care group homes. Holly Springs has been struggling and if their team could make a comeback, then the town might as well. A bond forms between Heather and Garrett, even with both of their reluctance to accept it. Still, though, Heather knows she can never trust an addict and Garrett is in no position to enter into a relationship. All he wants is to make it to the majors. “She was getting to him. Big time. Being around her was like riding a carnival Tilt-A-Whirl. She had him spinning. One minute she was a tough spitfire he wished he’d never laid eyes on, and the next she was soft and open, making him want to hold her and never let go. Especially when he glimpsed the same vulnerability in her eyes that consumed and strangled him.” This is my very first book by Karen Rock. And, I loved it. Her characters are so easy to care about. Both Heather and Garrett were driven professionally. But they had also both been through so much, leaving them vulnerable. You just never know when that one person comes along that can see you as you really are, that can understand you
As a huge sports fan, I have a fondness for sports romances. A sports hero is as likely to get me to buy a book as anything. I’m thrilled that authors are paying more attention to these type heroes. In addition, I am starting to see more sports oriented women as heroines which is wonderful. Karen Rock’s latest, A League of Her Own, is included in the sports hero and heroine list. Obviously written by a sports fan, Rock brings a freshness to the sports theme while also making sure that are heroine is very capable in her own right. Underneath the sports theme is the serious subject of addiction and how children of addicts are able to let go and trust again. Around our main characters Rock builds a fabulous baseball world; I hope we go back to at some point, as several of the secondary characters are well-deserving of an HEA of their own. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a sports fan, as well as anyone who enjoys a good heartwarming story with a strong cast of characters.
What a fun story! A League of Her Own is a great combination of romance, interesting characters (with lots of problems!), emotion, and baseball. The characters were well developed and multi-dimensional, which I appreciated. Yes, they had problems that affected them, but they were woven into the story so that those problems directed--but didn't take over--the story. The author did a great job at writing in an emotional way. I laughed and teared up at various points. Heather and Garrett were likeable characters, and I really enjoyed getting to know them! I didn't even realize that this book was by Karen Rock when I started it. (Way to pay attention, right?!) I read another of her books last summer and really enjoyed it. I'll definitely be watching for more of this author's work in the future! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.
What I Thought: This book is a great new style of contemporary romance. Yes, I know romance reads, based round sports, have been round for years, but this is my first one to read. I loved it. Being a rather sporty person myself, and with my hubby and I meeting through sport - well, it was caving, but that is very much a personal sport. With this read, I do feel that knowing a bit about baseball or softball, would likely be a plus. I played when I lived in the states, but it is not as common over here, in the UK. However, even if you know nothing at all about the sport, you will still be given enough detail to know what is happening, why it is important and how the two main characters could become so close. This is all due to the great, detailed writing by Karen Rock. She has given an excellent about of detail and character backing to make them very real and easy to bond with. After all, if you are sporty, competitive person, you will know the feeling that Rock portrays in her writing. That pent up mix of frustration, passion and bewilderment that comes with finding someone who is just as competitive and very like-minded. I love that I could feel the passion, determination and inner workings of the characters. I knew and understood the turmoil that were in and the need that they felt. It was addicting. I enjoyed every moment of this book. I am very keen to read more from Karen Rock and hope that more of her books consist of sporting based romance. It is perfection. Maybe a caving story next? I've got a good one ;) In the meantime, I highly recommend reading this story. It is excellent. The pace is spot on and the characters are detailed and vert addicting. When you reach the last page you will want more, more more!
This was a sweet romance. It also had a lot of depth to it. Heathers return home after her father has a stroke is difficult. Even after proving herself as a winning pitcher and coaching a team of her own, her father is hesitant to let her manage their minor league baseball team. Heather felt like no matter how successful she was, her father was never satisfied. Determined to prove she can do it, she’s all business until she bumps heads with the new pitcher, Garrett Wolf. Her attraction to him is strong. But she knows better than to mix business with pleasure. As her feelings for Garrett grow stronger, so does her need to prove herself to her father and to save the team. Heather and Garrett are strongly written. She’s vulnerable where her dad is concerned. Still feeds a need to gain his approval. And her mother’s return after many years of absence has Heather reeling. I could understand what she wanted from her father, but felt she forgave her mother too easily. Growing up with a drug addict for a mother and then to be abandoned by her for years had to leave some lasting scars and a boat load of anger. How she chooses to forgive and to trust takes strength though. Garrett also wrestles with some demons. His alcoholism is put to the test daily. He’s bound and determined to stay sober and take advantage of the second chance Heather’s father gave him when he signed him. Can he accept Heather’s instruction to improve his pitching? Can he stay away from her? Resist her allure? The poor guy has a lot on his plate. I liked his vulnerability. His determination. Garrett’s issues with alcohol stem from something that happened in his past. When he stepped in to mentor a foster boy, Levi, he showed his true character. A feel good story with a slow blooming, sweet romance, flawed characters who have you pulling for them, and baseball. What more could you ask for. I received this book for my honest review.
Sweet story! I received an advanced reader edition of this book from the author for the purpose of providing an honest review. 4 Stars! I loved this sweet story! I have read a lot of sports romance and have found that the focus is almost always on the romance with just a glimpse of the sport. That is not the case with this novel. This is a true sports story with the sport being just as important as the romance. I love baseball so this story really appealed to me. Heather is a softball coach after having been a great player herself. When she gets the call that her dad has had a heart attack, she rushes to his side. Soon she finds out that her father is planning to sell his struggling minor league baseball team and she fights to get a chance to manage the team and turn things around. Nothing Heather does ever seems to be good enough for her father but he eventually agrees to the plan. Garrett is a recovering alcoholic who is trying one last time to fulfill his dreams of making it to the big leagues. When he finds out that his team will now have the first female manager, he is ready to find another team. He soon recognizes that Heather has what it takes to lead this team and gives the team his all. There is a lot of chemistry between Garrett and Heather from the very beginning but there are also a lot of reasons they should not act on it. When Heather becomes the manager of the Falcons, she also becomes his boss so a relationship is not the best idea. An even bigger problem is that Heather does not feel that she can ever trust anyone who has ever been an addict because she watched her mother relapse too many times when she was younger. The fact that this book is part of the Harlequin Heartwarming line is perfect! It is most definitely a heartwarming story. Garrett and Heather both have a lot of issues from their past to overcome and watching them do that in this story was wonderful. This story is wonderfully written and the character's emotions really feel authentic. I would definitely recommend this book to others. Baseball fans should find this story particularly appealing. This is the first book by Karen Rock that I have had the chance to read and I plan to look for others in the future.
This is the 3rd book I've read from Karen Rock and I am yet to be disappointed by her. All of her stories are very captivating and emotional with strong enticing characters. I really liked Heather and Garrett. Their both very strong characters that are trying to face demons from the past and overcome them. I really like how determined Heather is to prove that she can be just as good if not a better coach then any man. The only thing that really bothered me about her was how her dad only ever had criticism towards her and could never tell her that she was doing a good job. You could tell that he really loved her but I wish she would have stood up for herself more. Garrett was very intriguing. He's a recovering alcoholic and trying to stay that way. He was also a foster kid. I really liked getting incite into his past. It helped understand the man now. Both him and Heather are trying to heal and need to overcome those demons. The relationship between them was a slow build up and had a lot of ups and downs. I really enjoyed the ride. This was a very light, sweet, enjoyable read with great characters. It could be classified as a sports romance but it was more about the characters. So even if you don't like sports this is still a great read but it has enough information about baseball to make it interesting. Karen Rock has definitely become one of my new favorite contemporary authors.
I am not an athlete, yet I enjoy a story that revolves around sports. Heather has spent her whole life around baseball and has a deep love for the sport. Not only is she a college champion softball pitcher, but she's a great coach and has a good eye for things not obvious to others. She's had an emotional tough upbringing, due to her mother's addictions, and baseball seems to be a stabilizing force in her life. Garrett has also had a tough upbringing and just wants to feel successful and accepted. Determined to break out of the cycle, he makes a name for himself, only to lose it all. When he is given a second chance to pitch for the Falcons, he takes it and decides to focus solely on his dreams, but with Heather as his boss, that's pretty hard to do. I love a good romance and thought this one was very well done. There are a lot of issues that these characters are dealing with, from fears to forgiveness to battling with weaknesses to earning respect. Everything was woven together so well. I especially loved how these characters seemed to jump off the pages. Heather seems so cool, collected, and confident, but she has insecurities that leave her feeling far from perfect. Garrett has a way of drawing her feelings out, even when she has major issues with him. In turn, Heather has a way of reaching Garrett, so that he finds himself doing things that he never thought he would do. Ms. Rock has a way of weaving an enchanting tale and I'm a huge fan! Content: a few mild expletives; no violence, but brief mentions of neglectful parenting and underage drinking; a couple of romantic kisses. Clean! *I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*
This book was a hit out of the ball park with me. I love rooting for the underdogs and this was a romance of two struggling, but very determined people who just needed a chance to show that the faith placed in them had not been misplaced. Their story is set against the backdrop of a minor league ball club trying to come out of several slumping seasons. This baseball romance written by a new to me author had a refreshing and intriguing twist to it that caught my eye and made me eager to pick up this story. Yes, there is a handsome, brooding pitcher for the hero with inner demons to fight as he gets a last chance to make good, but the heroine is his team manager- a lady professional ball player and manager. Kathunk! Right? She's talented and skilled to do the job, but has her own demons to slay and she thinks one of those is her unwanted attraction to the team's ace who isn't too keen on a lady boss. Garrett is a recovering alcoholic who started drinking because of the guilt and burden he carries from his past. His life now is all about redemption and proving himself with this last chance to turn his career around. Unfortunately, he plays on a team that is unmotivated and floundering with the vacuum in leadership and direction. Garrett's got a problem with his pitching and is frustrated that he can't figure out the problem. Then the new manager shows up- a woman that he happens to be strongly attracted too- and she has all the answers. Dare he listen to her when none of the other coaches see what she sees? And while he really should keep his mind firmly on baseball and staying sober, he can't stop thinking about Heather even when she pushes him away hard letting him know that she can't be with a guy like him- a drunk that can't be trusted. It hurts, but he can't deny that its true. Heather has achieved beyond most people's wildest dreams, but it is never enough for her dad. Her dad's health and finances puts him in a bind with the team he owns and she begs him for a chance to prove that she can handle the team before he gives them up. In doing so, she hopes to finally get his approval. It's just been her and him since her drug-addicted mother finally left them after nearly killing her in a car accident because she was DUI. Her dad agrees to let her finish out the season and then he'll talk to the interested buyers about selling. She has the rest of the season to gain the team's confidence in listening to a woman manager, to fix the problems she sees in the players, and convince her dad to keep her on and not sell. That should be enough to keep her busy, but yet she finds her thoughts drifting to the ace pitcher who makes it clear at the start that he wants out of his contract, then he doesn't trust her opinion about his pitching problem and finally he has a strong aversion to getting involved in her chosen community outreach program for some mysterious reason. When he showed interest in her as a person, she pushed him away knowing that she'll probably never develop the trust necessary for a relationship after all the lying and hurt her mom's addictions caused her and he takes it with a forgiving spirit so why can't she accept her own decision? The story isn't just a romance with a bit of sports off in the distance to qualify it as a sports romance- no there is lots of baseball for the game lover- neither is is just an isolated romance between two people involved in sports though there is a sweet slow developing romance presence through the story. This is a heartwarming story of two broken individuals who need to grow and they both have tough paths to get there. Along the way, they come together and support each other though its hard to read when the heroine's insecurities push them apart. It was a sobering reminder of the damage that addiction can do not only to the person addicted, but by their loved ones too. Heather was hard on Garrett, but I can't exactly say that she's way out in left field since she had lived with it. Did I think it was fair to Garrett? No, but unfortunately he is the one who must be strong and prove that he isn't like her mom was. Fortunately, he's a strong guy and cares enough to do just that. The story isn't all heavy feeling and tension. There is also lightness and hope too. It was so well-rounded in scope, paced well and included such well drawn characters both in the primary and secondary roles that I just kept reading and finished it in two sittings. This is definitely for the Sports Romance lover, but I would broaden my recommendation to also include any Contemporary Romance fans that likes an emotionally challenging sweet romance between characters that make one want to cheer them on for the win. My thanks to the author and to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.