I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love Bats Last by Pamela Aares
Series: Heart of the Game #1
Published by CreateSpace on February 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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A stormy night changes their lives forever...
The baseball diamond isn't the only field for all-star player Alex Tavonesi; he also runs his family's prestigious vineyard. What he can't seem to run is his love life. He's closing in on the perfect vintage and the perfect game, but so far the perfect woman has eluded him.
Veterinarian Jackie Brandon is eluding her aristocratic past and memories of a soccer star who jilted her just before their wedding. She devotes herself to a marine mammal rescue center on the northern California coast, where hundreds of seals and sea lions are washing up dead.
A chance meeting in a midnight storm brings Alex and Jackie together to rescue a stranded whale. Watching her work, he realizes she's the passionate, courageous woman he thought he'd never find--he just has to overcome her deep distrust of jocks. Jackie’s passion and courage lead her to discover what's killing the sea mammals. The culprits want to silence her, and Alex is the only one standing in their way. What will he sacrifice to save the woman he loves?
Alex Tavonesi isn’t your typical athlete. He’s a vintner who inherited his family vineyard and he’s a star first baseman for the San Francisco Giants with a shot at winning this year’s Triple Crown. Jackie Brandon is a world renowned marine mammal veterinarian from England, now running a marine rescue center/hospital in San Francisco. Their first meeting was…kismet, at least for Alex.
The heart of the story
Alex doesn’t have the capacity for any distractions as he focuses on the baseball batting prize. But he’s drawn to Jackie like a moth to flame. She’s pretty prickly and has vowed off relationships after a very bad one years ago and both have extremely challenging careers that require intense concentration. It’s a dance they’re losing when Alex drifts into a volunteer role at the center…during the season!
The strength of the tale
This is NOT your typical baseball story. I loved what I learned about a player’s mindset about the game. I’ve been a baseball fan for a long time and had no clue about the mental rigor and preparation in parallel with the physical skills for a player to be successful. It was fascinating and didn’t overwhelm the story. I also got an education about marine mammal issues and those committed to their sustenance and survival.
Alex and Jackie are extremely well developed characters, so much so that I felt I knew them intimately by the end of the book. He’s a dreamboat, really. Jackie was tougher to warm up to but I got there. Theirs is an unconventional romance that fit who they were individually and as a developing couple, sensual and intense.
The bottom line
The writer delivers so much more than a standard romance. Issues related to the vineyard, marine mammal rescue and baseball were well researched and presented. Nora Roberts is the only other romance writer I’ve read that gives you this type of education along with a love story. There was also a pretty exciting climax and not just related to sports. I loved the story, the writing and the characters. Nice surprise.