Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jaci Burton - Thrown by a Curve

For Alicia Riley, her job as a sports therapist for the St. Louis Rivers baseball team is a home run—until she becomes the primary therapist for star pitcher, Garrett Scott. Out of the lineup with an injury, he’s short-tempered, hard to handle, and every solid inch, a man.
Right now, the only demand he’s making on Alicia is that she get him ready to pitch in time for opening day. Except the sexual chemistry between them is so charged, Alicia’s tempted to oblige Garrett just about anything. But both their careers are at stake—one bad move and it’s game over for both of them.
Garrett also feels the hot sparks between them, and the way he figures it, what better therapy is there than sex? Now all he has to do is convince the woman with the power to make the call.

Comment: Here is another installment in the Play by Play series by author Jaci Burton, and one less book in the pile for me. Although I've been trying to go through the books in the series I own, I have to say that as a rule, the stories are not as fantastic as I imagined and not to the level of covers they show. Readers know a book should not be judged by its cover but to me, these ones are slightly more amazing than the books they portray.

In this 5th installment we have Alicia Riley's story, she's the sister of the hero in the previous book and cousin to protagonists in the first three.
Alicia works as a physical therapist for a baseball team where her cousin Gavin also plays in. Alicia sort of offers herself to help player Garret Scott regaining his shape after an injury but only because she sees his efforts so far haven't had results and she feels she might help by changing his workouts.
Garrett isn't feeling very positive but he still loves the game and wants to play so he accepts Alicia's "dare" and starts doing what she says, which means they spend a lot time together. As time goes by, however, it starts to become difficult to separate their professional side and the personal one, which Garrett thinks isn't as personal as it can get...

I'm sure I've said it before but here it is again: what a pity this series isn't more character focused instead of sex scenes and erotica hints. Even in private conversations Alicia has with friends the talk seems to always go to sex. I can accept it as normal but in the stroy about Alicia and Garret and a potential relationship, why does it matter... sex should be the reflection of their relationship not the reason why it exists. I guess I'm old fashioned.
And yes, I knew this would be more oriented to sexual situations but the way characters act even in professional situations doesn't seem the type of thing I would want people working for me to act. Now, if the plot was better balanced between the two things maybe it wouldn't be such a noticeable thing for me.

So, Alicia is not an effective worker at the baseball team and although it shouldn't matter if she falls in love with a player, the reality is they don't fall in love before becoming intimate. Where is the professionalization? She keeps saying she can't jeopardize her job because she likes it and she wants to help the players and so on but even when recognizing the signs, she still gets involved with Garrett. For me, how amazing it would have been if they were to go through sexual tension situations and only after both their futures and feelings were understood and obvious, they gave in, then the relationship would feel even stronger. The way things happen when they talk about love I don't think it's believable.

In the previous two books the balance between the protagonist's relationship and the overall plot seemed better done but in here it felt like the baseball stuff was just an afterthought and not even the personal doubts and actions each character has seemed to matter in the whole scheme. They often mention challenges, difficulties and such, but at the end all those things haven't played such a big part in leading them to the HEA. From co-workers to friends to lovers isn't such a stretch but I don't feel convinced from all those things to being in love was shown to us.
Alicia is a pragmatic character and I liked her but yes, when she was thinking about sex, no matter how realistic, it's not what I wanted to know about her. Same for Garrett, the serious conversations they had weren't developed as well as they could even accepting they wouldn't discuss important things all the time.

At the end of the book, I guess what I wanted to have seen was obvious passion from realistic feelings and situations. So much dedication to the sex side because it sells, because people want to have sexy stories or because erotica catches people's eyes and then the plots, the romances are secondary and not sweet enough. I know romance novels don't always need to be sugary but a bigger amount of thoughtful situations and conversations makes it easier to convince the reader it will be a strong HEA at the end after all.
Grade: 5/10

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