Series: Richmond Rogues, Book 1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 308 Pages, 4375 Locations
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
A Couple of Solid Base Hits and a Strike Out
Fresh off a World Series victory, Richard "Risk" Kincaid kidnaps his good friend Zen "Einstein" Driscoll and makes the long drive from Richmond to his hometown of Frostproof, FL. He goes to participate in a baseball benefit, but he plans to stay awhile. In fact, after years of being Jacy Grayson's rebound lover and good friend, he plans to make her realize that he loves her and has for a very long time. Since their senior year of high school he's been there for her whenever her love life goes awry, flying to her side to ease her pain with his body and his heart. Now he wants to be her love life - forever. But Jacy has a secret that she's kept for all these years. A secret she's kept from Risk. A secret that may turn him against her permanently.
Zen went along with Risk for the ride...not that he was given much choice. He didn't expect that ride to end in Frostproof, and he didn't expect to be wrangled into the weekend benefit event. When he met Stephanie "Stevie" Cole, though, things definitely started looking up. One thing you can say about Stevie...she gives good blow. She's a baseball stats phenom and a curvy, freckled darling. It's a pity her heart belongs to her high school sweetheart and rival Tampa Bay pitcher Aaron Grayson, Stevie's best friend Jacy's cousin.
Unfortunately, Aaron's been pulling away from Stevie for the last year. This baseball benefit has given her the perfect chance to spend some quality time with him in the hopes of re-sparking their relationship. The plan was going so well, too...right up until Aaron announces his engagement to another woman in front of Stevie and the whole town. Stevie is betrayed and devastated.
Zen offers Stevie his shoulder and helps her stand proud after her loss. Thing is, with Zen around, Stevie realizes she's not all that upset about Aaron. The humiliation of their public breakup notwithstanding, she starts to think that when it comes to Aaron, she dodged a fast ball. But Zen, for all his thoughtfulness and power of observation, doesn't believe she's quite over her old flame, and Stevie may not have time to convince him before he slips away.
This cute double header romance with a quirky and fun set of primary and secondary characters was mostly a pleasant read. I have to admit, I dislike baseball - a lot (my sports love is football). I was a little concerned that my anti-baseball sentiments would cause a problem during the book and am happy to say it didn't at all. Risk and Zen were charming heroes and I really enjoyed Jacy's vibrant individuality. I appreciated Stevie's less than perfect physique - it made her seem more realistic, but her self consciousness and constant worry about it wore on me after a while. I liked her, but just not quite as much as the others. The bat pack were, quite simply, awesome, especially Psycho. They added a lot of humor to the book.
I was not, however, even remotely enamored with Aaron and fiance Natalie Llewellyn as characters and I detested their storyline. It felt grossly out of place in a light romantic comedy and really affected my appreciation for the book as a whole. Aaron was a snake for how he treated Stevie, and Natalie should have had a house dropped on her. Then picked up and dropped again. Wasting any time reading about them annoyed me and the conclusion of their plot thread was disappointing.
If it hadn't been for them, I would have thoroughly and completely enjoyed this book. The double romance...triple if you add in Aaron and Natalie...did lessen the scope of the development that each was given, and overall I thought the arc of the Risk and Jacy romance was more complete and appealing than Zen and Stevie's, but I enjoyed them both. It's not a book to take too seriously and I wouldn't suggest spending too much time sweating the pesky details - some of which don't quite add up, but it's a light, comedic read that gave me a grin now and again and I was okay with that. Sensitive readers should be warned there are some unconventional sexual scenes and situations that some may find objectionable.
I have to admit, I do wish the books had a football backbone instead of baseball, but hey, I enjoyed most of the book and will be continuing the series with Curveball (Richmond Rogues, Book 2). Thankfully watching the World Series isn't required.