Double Play by Jill Shalvis
published by Berkley Sensation in July 2009
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 got 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 distraction, 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 the courage to swing for the fences...
Genre: contemporary romance, sports romance
Series: The Pacific Heat, book #1
Nath: So Monroe, what did you think of Double Play? I was pleasantly surprised by it, I liked it better than I expected :)
Monroe: I really enjoyed this book as well. I couldn’t help but compare it to Rachel Gibson’s See Jane Score (which btw is one of my favs) and it was neck and neck there for a while and I ALMOST thought it would beat RG out, BUT the ending made me rethink that.
Nath: I agree with you. It’s hard not to compare Double Play and See Jane Score given that in both, the heroine is a reporter and the hero, a jock. Then, there were the superstitious tidbits LOL. I think that anyone who enjoys sport romances and/or See Jane Score should give Double Play a go. I thought there was a good balance between the sport and romance and I liked that there was no big ending-career injury and the focus wasn’t on the hero being too old and having to consider retirement. Yes, those issues were addressed, after all, Pace is 31 years old, but they weren’t the focus and I’m glad. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that Pace actually played baseball for 75-80% of the book! LOL.
Monroe: I love sports romances and this one for me is right up there close to the top. This was my first baseball sport to read about and I have to say that Pace gave my hockey men a run for their money! Pace...oh Pace...how dreamy is this guy. He has a tough exterior, cocky but not too pompous and oh how he has a heart of gold. I mean he couldn’t even totally shrug Holly off when she was so persistent about an interview and it was clear that he wasn’t giving her one.
Nath: You described Pace very well, he is definitively a winner and he does have a heart of gold... I liked him a lot. It was nice that he was quite down-to-earth. Sure, he enjoys his status as a professional player, but he doesn't have such an inflated ego. In short, he wasn't a jerk and that, I appreciated.
What did you think of Holly? I liked her as well. I thought that yes, she was insistent as a reporter, but not in a bad way. She was thoughtful and again, very down to earth. She respected the players even though she was trying to find secrets. They weren’t a mean to an end, she treated them like genuine people instead of stories. I thought that the topics of her articles were quite interesting and if someone in real life would write those, I would gladly read it.
Monroe: I really loved Holly. I would have to say she was one of my fav heroines! Is she insecure?... Sure but you would never know it by how forward and blunt she is. I loved that she knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to show it. She was totally up front about her feelings for Pace and when he pushed she pushed right back! Holly surprised me MANY times by how quick she was on her toes around all the guys and she seemed to feel right at home!
Nath: I wouldn't say Holly is my favorite heroine – I don’t think that any heroine who is a reporter could be ^_^; However, she does have personality characteristics that I admire. I like that she didn't lie to herself. That she admits she had feelings for Pace, but didn't push him. It was more a case of : "I like you, deal with it, I have already." I think that if Pace hadn't reciprocated her feelings, she would have dealt with it and eventually, overcome the crush and move on.
Aside from two likable main characters who share great chemistry, I thought Double Play had a nice cast of secondary characters as well. I liked that the Heat players got along well and that the story didn't focus on youngster coming and older player panicking. There was great camaraderie between the players and we also got to see their entourage – their publicist, manager, etc. LOL, I loved the fact that the players were so superstitious and made Pace and Holly kiss so they would win, but they would baby-sit them so they wouldn’t have sex, LOL :) And the fact that Pace was angry on Holly’s behalf for being used? Awww!
Monroe: Oh ya I loved all the players! How they treated Pace and Holly and their kissing but NO SEX rule cracked me up!
Oh and how far along were you when you figured out the story? I wasn't too far into it before I realized that the drugs were either coming from Tucker or Red. And when he drank Ty's drink I just KNEW he was going to get tested and it would come back positive. One thing they did sneak in on me was that Jeremy was the leak. He really didn’t have a big role in the book and so I didn't figure it would’ve been him.
Nath: LOL, I cheated. I always read the end ^_^; So I didn't have to figure things out. Although, seriously, it was very easy to figure who was supplying. It was harder to figure out who leaked the news. I thought that both issues were weak though and the news leak was a little bit superfluous. It would have been more effective to focus on one. I'm glad that Pace believed in Holly for that part. As for Jeremy, I think that was to set up the next book and perhaps his own.
I also had a few other quirks… First, there was a lot of emphasis on Holly and Pace's backgrounds and how it shaped their lives... However, I didn't feel it. I thought it was an excuse and Ms Shalvis used it too conveniently to explain away some of Holly and Pace’s habits or character traits. Also, the sequel baiting at the beginning of the book was too blatant. I don't mind sequel baiting, as long as it's done with subtlety. However, in this case, it was bam – in your face: here are the other players and their "storylines/background that is going to shape their story." It's really a minor thing, but still it annoyed me.
Monroe: I didn’t have too many problems with this book; in fact I found it rather addicting and hard to put down! However, I have to agree with you on some points. I too felt the backgrounds of their childhoods were a bit off. I felt the author maybe thought she needed to explain them so we would understand more about how the characters have grown into who they are but I felt it really wasn't needed, especially Holly’s background with her mother. It was all a bit awkward to me and I think she should’ve either wrote it more into the story or just totally left it out all together (more the latter of the two).
Nath: I agree with you. I felt that the backgrounds stories were definitively off. Like you, I think the authors should have worked the background stories more into the book or not use it at all. Seriously, I didn't see what was the big deal between Pace and his father. As for Holly, her background story with her life wasn’t very consistent. For example, Holly was once very poor and it seems to have marked her to the point where she’s a bit cheap. In that case, would she really rent a condo by the month and move out when she wants to? I mean, in her situation, I would want some security and have my own place, somewhere a little more permanent to reassure me... Also, wouldn’t she go for something cheaper? I just didn’t feel it.
Anything else that bothered you?
Monroe: This is a little bit of a spoiler, but the end kinda bothered me. Ok so their at the game and after they won its this big 'Yay moment' and Pace climbs over the fence to get to Holly and reporters are all there and he goes to propose and her response is "Oh you don’t need to propose. I just need you"...WTF?!? Like you’re all hyped up and excited...they won the game, he got the girl, etc. and she says THAT!!! I don’t know maybe I'm being picky but I felt a little deflated after she said that. I was talking about it with a friend and she said it did kind fit Holly character to react that way, and maybe it did... I just didn’t like it! LOL
Nath: Hmm, I didn't really mind the ending, but I see why it would bother you… it kind of killed the mood a little ^_^; Me, I was more bothered by the reporter/cameraman that said: "Oh sorry, you're trying to get laid." Ugh. Also, it seemed like an awkward moment to end the book - this was his comeback from the surgery right? (Wasn't that a bit quick?) So they still don't know yet whether they'll make the series, let alone if they won, right? Of course, if she ended the book at the other moments, it might have been a bit too cliched... but I felt that it was strange.
Overall though, I enjoyed Double Play a lot. I liked the main characters, enjoyed their chemistry and the palpable sexual tension. I’m giving it a B, it was fun and quick, but not ground-breaking.
Monroe: B+ from me! I overall really liked this book and besides the very few faults it had I think Id reread this book! It had a great feel to it and was SUPER addictive! Yet another great one from Jill Shalvis...
I REALLY hope they put Wade with Sam in the second book. I know that would be an interesting book. When Sam told Holly about getting stuck in the elevator and them finding things to do to pass the time...LMAO!
Nath: Did you read the excerpt at the end? Pretty sure the next book is going to be Wade and Sam’s story :) and as a bonus, we might see Tia :)