Series: Boys of Summer #2
Genres: Sports Romance
Source: ARC, NetGalley
Also in this series: The Heat of the Moment, Grand Slam
Also by this author: Third Base, Save Me, Grand Slam, Christmas With You: an anthology
The second novel in New York Times bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin's Boys of Summer baseball series.
Cooper Bailey finally has a shot at being a major league ballplayer, but it will take all his focus and energy during spring training to make it happen. Complicating things is his instantaneous connection with Ainsley Burke. He can't get enough of her, and before he knows it, they're spending every night together. But as happy as he is off the field, his focus on it is suffering, and he isn't willing to risk his lifelong dream over a girl.
But without Ainsley, Cooper's miserable, and his game is still off. No matter what he tries, he can't get her out of his head, and he's starting to realize that maybe he doesn't want to. Baseball is just a game, but Ainsley might be the real thing. Now he just has to convince her of that.
I read Third Base a while back and enjoyed it, so I wanted to give Home Run a chance as well. I like baseball themed sports romances because you don’t see them as frequently as hockey or football, and I actually understand baseball better. Don’t get me wrong, I get the gist of hockey and football, but I haven’t ever played either, so I don’t know the deeper details. In Home Run, when Cooper is talking about the difference between metal bats and wooden bats, I know the exact sound and feel he is referencing. I can hear it in my head as clear as day. I can feel the way a metal bat reverberates against my hands when the author is describing it. So, yeah, baseball romances have a more meaningful connection for me because I understand it better.
Cooper is a rookie outfielder who is fighting for a spot on the team from a well loved veteran player. He is a good guy-no baby mamas running after him, no drug problems, etc. He decided he wanted to be a pro ball player when he was young and that was it. Its sweet and endearing. Ainsley (Love the name!) was a zookeeper but had to step away from her demanding job when her mom was diagnosed with cancer and needed Ainsley to be there frequently. She works in the front office of the zoo still, but you can see how heartbreaking it is for her to not have the job she loves and to be losing her mom all at the same time. Cooper meets Ainsley at a PR gig for the team and he doggedly pursues her. I love when a hero is determined. To me, nothing is sexier than a man who won’t be deterred from his goal.
Both Cooper and Ainsley have family histories that are marred in tragedy. Cooper’s mom died when he was young and Ainsley’s father took off on her and her mom. Both are still dealing with their emotions regarding their family as well, but I think Cooper was much more honest and understanding about how his mom’s death affected him and how it still does affect him now. You also see how the death shaped his relationship with his father, with whom Cooper has a very complicated relationship. Ainsley was more immature in her dealing of her emotions and sometimes I found her a bit self centered. She seemed focused on being bitter about men in general and I am over that cliche. Thankfully, that doesn’t last long!
I must admit, Home Run was deeper than I expected. Cooper and Ainsley are more complex than I anticipated and this book isn’t a fluffy sports romance read as a result. If you want campy, funny, and light, this isn’t the book. If you like your athletes to be deep, meaningful, and complex and your heroines to be challenging and slightly damaged, Home Run is a great pick! While the book doesn’t have any shocking twists or dramatic overtures, the characters are the driving force of the story. I think that was true for book 1 as well, so if you like character driven stories, this series is something you will enjoy!
- POV: dual
- Tears: no
- Trope: famous, baseball
- Triggers: none
- Series/Standalone: stand alone within an interconnected series
- Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »no « Hide Spoiler
- HEA: View Spoiler »yes with a sweet epilogue « Hide Spoiler
Max by Sawyer Bennett, Fly with Me by Chanel Cleeton, Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen…then you will probably like Home Run!
From Home Run:
“Can I call you, sometime?”
Ainsley looks down at the ground and crosses her arms over her chest. “Listen, I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all, but I don’t date baseball players. You guys all come in here, acting sweet and caring about the kids, but will be gone in two months. We’re forgotten all about until next spring training.”
From her spiel, I can tell someone has hurt her in the past, but I’m not willing to give up. There’s no way I can now. “Whoa, why the one-eighty?”
“I mean, a second ago I sort of thought… never mind.” I shake my head and start to walk away, only to turn back. “I don’t know about the other guys. I only know me, and I’m not like that. I’d like to prove myself. Just one date to show you that I’m genuine?”
She shakes her head no again, but there’s a glint in her eye that tells me she’s thinking about it. “I’m sorry I can’t.”
Ainsley is walking away before I can even think to form a rebuttal. Our left fielder is there to pick up the pieces and remind me that I just had the first strike out of my major league career. Wonderful.
I drag my sorry ass out toward the waiting bus with my head hanging in shame. I thought for sure I’d at least get her number and be able to convince her that I’m not an epic douche like some of the other guys.
Just as my foot touches the bottom step, my name is called from behind. In a heart-stopping moment, I think it’s Ainsley, only to find another female worker running toward me. I step away and wait for her to get to me.
“Here,” she says, slipping a piece of paper into my hand. When I look at what’s written on it, I’m surprised to see Ainsley’s name and what I’m assuming is her number. “She’ll kill me if she knew I did this, but it’s her cell. Sweep her off her feet. She deserves it.” The woman winks before running back toward the zoo.
Our catcher slaps me on my shoulder. “Well, you lucky dog.”
I have the first book in this series in my TBR but I couldn’t get into it so I put it aside but after reading this review, I should probably give it another shot. Lovely review, Samantha.
[…] [19 Jan] Home Run by Heidi McLaughlin ★★★★ […]