Strike Zone by Kate Angell
published by Dorchester (Love Spell) in April 2008
Faced with the love of her life waiting at the altar, thrill-seeking adventure guide Taylor Hannah lost her nerve and ran. Three years later, the gutsy blonde is back in Richmond to reclaim handsome Rogues pitcher Brek Stryker before he makes another trip down the aisle. From dressing as a giant baseball to pummeling the other team’s mouthy mascot, this former fiancée is pulling out all the stops. Trouble is, her ball player refuses to believe she’s finally ready to play by his rules. Stryke hasn’t forgiven the woman who left him on their wedding day, but he can’t ignore the chemistry that sizzles every time he and Taylor meet. The fireworks between them could light up the ball park, but Stryke won’t lose his heart again unless he knows the score. If Taylor steps into his strike zone, she’d better be ready to go past third base and all the way home.
Genre: sport romance, contemporary romance
Series: The Richmond Rogues, Book #3
The Story: Three years ago, Taylor Hannah’s parents died in a plane crash. Then, a few months later, she was supposed to get married to Rogues’ start pitcher Brek Stryker... however, she left him at the altar. Now, three years later, after reading his engagement announcement, Taylor wants closure and to apologize, therefore she returns to Richmond… and sparks still erupt between them. The last thing Brek wants is to see Taylor again, to feel the sparks and to remember… but you rarely get want you want.
The secondary storyline involves Taylor’s little sister and Sloan McCaffrey, the Rogues’ reliever. Sloan is attracted to Taylor and decides to sign on one of the trip she guides… Although his mind is attracted to Taylor, his body responds to Eve, the non-thrill seeking, cynic with a sharp tongue sister. Of course, Eve is not interested in a man who only dates the same women 3 times… but being around Sloan is fun and it makes her forget that she’s the passive sister.
Nath: This was definitively a light and fun read. It took me only one evening to finish it and I know it took even less time for Kris!
Kris: I picked it up to read while I was eating lunch and could not put it down. I think I finished it in about 2 hours. It was a lot of fun. I had a few LOL moments. My favorite was Psycho at the dog adoption event. I could picture that so well.
Nath: LOL, so true! I thought the mascot fights were quite funny, especially the second one where Taylor won :) The first one with Psycho yelling her what to do… I think one of the most hilarious part of the book was when Sloan came to crash Addie's b-day party and Eve wondered what gift he brought. LOL, definitively a LOL moment.
I really enjoyed the Taylor and Brek’s storyline. I like their chemistry and I wondered how Brek was going to dump his fiancée without looking like a jerk. I have to say though, I wish Taylor and Brek had their own book. This was also a complaint I had with Squeeze Play and Curve Ball as well. In my opinion, Ms Angell had enough material with one couple, she didn’t need to squeeze in another.
Kris: I was okay with the two stories in the book. Though with the large timeline like there was, she could have done a couple more scenes during rehab or somewhere else in the story to make you feel the time pass more.
I totally did not see the Hillary (the fiancée) thing coming. That was a nice surprise.
Nath: Definitively could have added a few scenes, though perhaps not about rehab. I think she meant to keep the book fun and light. I can't see rehab being fun, witty and light LOL :) So perhaps them on a date or something, although I can’t see how she could have fit those scenes in… Sigh.
As for the Hillary thing – I didn’t see it coming either. I mean, I knew she wasn’t as innocent and nice as she looked. The clue was when she came up to Taylor to ask her advices about loving Brek... That’s really just plain mean and “in your face, he’s mine now.”
Kris: I was giving her the benefit of the doubt and wondering if she was abused at some point. So I guess I fell for it.
Nath: That would totally have not fit the fun and light mood, LOL. Personally, where she’s concerned, I think that Brek was wearing blinders. True, Ms Angell explains his "blindness" very well and it fits, but I can’t see a professional baseball star pitcher getting engage with a woman without ever having sex with her. You just know something is wrong when she denies you sex… and her reasons were not even “I want to wait for our wedding night” or something like that. She just didn’t feel comfortable ^_^; In the end, I would have liked to see what happened to Hillary, Stu and whether or not her father won the election.
As for Sloan and Eve, I enjoyed their relationship till the third date. Afterwards, I think that their storyline was rushed and they got together too quickly. Their storyline definitively suffered from lack of pages.
Kris: Though I think Hillary and Stu’s fate was mentioned in passing, I would have liked to have seen or heard a little more about that as well.
Sloan cracked me up with his arrogance. He was a good balance for Eve. This book was very much about opposites attracting. I do not think that they got back together too quickly. They were apart for like 3-4 months before they got back together. If she was still pining for him at that point then she needed to talk to him or get over him.
Nath: True, there were 3 or 4 months between their fight and reconciliation. However, you don’t feel those 3 or 4 months go by and that’s why I felt it was rushed. Adding more scenes to their storyline would have made it more believable in my opinion. I felt that they had the beginning of something together, but I don’t think they were involved enough for Sloan to change so completely in order to win her back. I mean Sloan doing small things and changing a bit would have been enough, but going the whole 9 yards – buying a house and adopting dogs? I think it was a little too much.
One thing I’m glad Ms Angell did not do is having all the previous heroines be pregnant LOL :) Also, she didn’t plug them too much in the storyline. The guys, they were unavoidable, being part of the same team… but it’s nice that wives are just mentioned in this book. Only Jacy has a bigger part and again, it was well justified.
Kris: I like she did not try to force the other wives and characters in so that you could see them again. Though I like to see characters from other books I do not like forced scenes. I need to track down the other book and read that one too. I read Psycho’s story but not the other one.
Nath: So story-wise, Ms. Angell did really good; however, baseball-wise, not so good. As Dear Author’s review of this book pointed out, there are a lot of baseball facts wrong in this book.
Kris: If you are a total baseball fan then you would probably catch those things and I think it would detract because it seems that Ms Angell did not do her research well enough. You would think that she would do a lot more research if she is doing a series around baseball, but I guess not.
Since I am not a baseball fan and any mistakes were totally over my head, this book was a lot of fun for me. So I would probably grade it a B+ to A- somewhere in there.
Nath: So total baseball fans, you’ve been warned. If you’re just a regular reader or have a high tolerance level, then go ahead, because this book was really fun. I’m giving this book a B+… and I’ll be reading the next, hoping that it’s Rhodes book!