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REVIEW:  Perfect Pitch by Mindy Klasky

REVIEW: Perfect Pitch by Mindy Klasky

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Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant’s rules—no smoking, drinking, or “cavorting” in public.

That’s fine, until D.J. Thomas—God’s gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam’s no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.’s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss.

Soon, paparazzi catch the couple in a steamy make-out session, and Sam’s music program is on the block. The blazing hot relationship is threatened even more when D.J.’s son begs to trade in Little League for music class.

Can Sam and D.J. sizzle past the sour notes and find their perfect pitch?

Dear Ms. Klasky,

After enjoying what is actually the second book in this series, “Catching Hell,” I knew I wanted to go back and start from the beginning. While there are some things I liked about “Perfect Pitch,” it wouldn’t have got me caught on these books had I read it first.

The relationship between DJ and Sam starts innocently enough with DJ making a thoughtless comment about the Summer Queen. What or who is the Summer Queen? A made up beauty contest set in North Carolina with Samantha Winger as the current title holder. Sam has dealt with ten months worth of the “morality” clauses expected of the reigning Queen – no public drinking, carousing, hooting or hollering. She manages to turn DJ’s public apology into an opportunity to publicize her passion which is helping re-establish music in NC’s public school system.

Sparks fly between DJ and Sam but after a steamy kiss photo taken by a local paparazzi hits the papers, Sam is on probation as far as pageant officials are concerned. She can deal with that now that a local businessman has offered to help get her Musicall program off the ground, though. It just so happens that the school chosen for the pilot is attended by DJ’s son Daniel and it’s then that Sam discovers the boy’s love of music and dislike of the life his father has planned for him – to follow in his footsteps as a major league pitcher just as DJ did with his father, Hall of Famer Dan Thomas.

While DJ is amazing at reading and understanding Sam’s interest in him, he’s incredibly obtuse about his son. And while Sam is determined to see students get the chance to learn to love music, she’s seemingly blind to how sneaking around with DJ could end up sinking Musicall almost before it even starts.

To be honest, this one is not as good as second novel. The shorter length worked there because focus is entirely on the two main characters while here there are distractions to the relationship between DJ and Sam. Yes, Daniel, DJ’s son, is a point of contention between Sam and DJ in terms of his future as either a ball player or a musician but time has to be spent with him and explaining him instead of spending it on Sam and DJ together. As well, Sam’s issues with the Summer Queen rules serve to take time away from the couple together.

There is also less baseball in this book. A little time is spent on the fabulousness of DJ’s no hitter game and the dreary reality of a long series of games on the road as well as how careful DJ must be with his pitching arm but it’s more background white noise instead of front and center to the book.

When the conflict over Daniel’s music v sports flares up, the already short term flash sexy relationship between Sam and DJ crumbles in a heartbeat only to be just as quickly resurrected with a simple “I’m sorry” and seemingly all is forgiven to be followed by more behavior that any romance reader can tell will lead to disaster.

When the Big Breakup occurs late in the story, Sam and DJ do finally yell their concerns and problems at each other. However, when the public reunion takes place – and yeah, I’ll give DJ props for making sure that Sam gets a public apology and proposal after the public way their relationship torpedoed her career – I’m blinking at how easy it all goes. Over a longer period of time, with more discussion I could believe this but as truncated as the action becomes, it was too much too soon along with too little baseball. C

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen

REVIEW: Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen

Coming in from the Cold Sarina Bowen

Dear Ms. Bowen:

I loved the three New Adult books you wrote and was desperate to read more Bowen romances so I was giddy when I learned that there were already two adult contemporaries available.

The hero Dane “Danger” Hollister is like the lead in Viscount Who Loved Me. He has a family illness that is likely to kill him before he’s forty and it’s a terrible disease. He doesn’t do relationships. He hooks up and has pursued his dream of being an  Olympic skier. This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like something more permanent but rather that he foresees that death is imminent and you can’t have a relationship with anyone when your life has an early expiration date.

He gets trapped in a snowstorm with the heroine Willow Reade, who’s moved to Vermont, abandoning her doctorate in Clinical Psychology to move in with her boyfriend. Then her boyfriend takes off with someone else, leaving her with an underwater mortgage, gourmet chickens and no money. Why Willow doesn’t abandon the house, allow it to be foreclosed up and go back to pursue her degree wasn’t clear but that was only one of the incomprehensible behaviors of the characters in the book.

In the trapped vehicle, the two can’t stop the hormones and they have sex. He reminds her it is only a one time thing and at one point he says he doesn’t have a condom. She reassures him that it’s okay because she’s on the pill. When he does the disappearing act that he promised he would do, she’s disappointed because she’s not ready to let go.

I’m okay with both Willow and Dane at this point. They hooked up, had risky sex, and neither are emotionally okay with how things were left but that’s just how life is sometimes. It’s what happens next that had me banging on the screen of my kindle and sending angry texts. I told Sarah on SmartBitches during a podcast that I felt like the book turned me into a momentary Men’s Rights Activist and that made me even angrier.

Something happens to Willow and this causes them both more emotional trauma that is only resolved when something else happens to Dane. I know this is vaguey mcvaguerston but rather than spoil it outright, I’ll just say that I wasn’t sold on the characters’ actions and reactions. Willow does something that affects both their lives and then doesn’t really take responsibility for it. Dane is rude and cruel. Neither of them really recovered for me as characters and I had a hard time getting excited for their HEA particularly when Dane’s issues could have readily been solved earlier.

There’s not so much character growth as there is a change in circumstance. If the circumstances hadn’t changed, I couldn’t foresee an HEA between the two. I ended up not liking either character much. C-

Spoiler (spoiler rant): Show

Willow gets pregnant because she had allowed her prescription to lapse and thought she could skate by. She lied to Dane about her birth control situation and never fesses up to this. There’s no repercussions and it’s just a small confession to her friend who is like, well, okay then.

What the hell? SHE LIED ABOUT HER BIRTH CONTROL. How angry would we be at the male character if he poked holes in a condom and told a woman that he was protecting her? Very.

I felt this situation was worsened when she’s angered and hurt that he tells her to get an abortion. Yes, he calls her a “fuck up”. That’s rude and cruel, but the focus of the remainder of the book isn’t that he called her a fuck up but that he told her to get an abortion. Telling her that he didn’t want the baby, that he believed she should get an abortion is not cruel. To me this felt like an unnecessary vilification of abortion as an option.  She considers being a welfare mom and adoption, but abortion is cruel and unfeeling I know romance doesn’t want to go there, ever, but I don’t have to be happy with how the choice issue is played out.

That Dane doesn’t tell her why he believes it is vital for her to get an abortion is stupid but somewhat ameliorated because he fears that if it got out, it would affect his standing as an Olympic hopeful.  But Dane is just as stupid as Willow because he never gets tested. That makes sense if he’s going to pretend he doesn’t have the disease, but Dane lives and assumes as if he does. Why not just find out? Why he wouldn’t want to be sure when his driving motivation is the belief it is true baffled me the entire book. I get that it is necessary to keep the conflict between the couple.

I felt her lying to him when he was so adamant about using protection, not having children, was a really shitty thing to do and trumped him calling her a fuck up. I know that this a complicated moral issue, but the book brought it up and didn’t deal with it well. Of course since he doesn’t have the disease, it’s all sunshine and roses at the end. Urgh.

Best regards

Jane

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