Reviewed: November 9, 2010
Genre: Sports Romance
Series: Richmond Rogues, Book 3
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 259 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Three years ago, the grief from her parents' sudden death and the inability to settle down just months after their loss forced Taylor Hannah to drastic action. She left Brek Stryker at the alter and raced across the planet to thrust herself into any and every extreme sport and test of endurance, strength, and courage she could. Since then Taylor "Fearless" Hannah has been the adventurous side of Thrill Seekers, the business she owns with her sister, Eve, and she leads extreme daredevil tours for the most extreme athletes. But in the middle of leading an skiing tour down the mighty La Grave, she receives word from Eve. Stryke is getting married. Suddenly Fearless has never been more afraid that one of her deepest regrets will be forever unable to be redeemed.
Getting changed after a game, one of the Bat Pack, Psycho McMillan, noticed team mascot Rally Ball giving Stryke a definite once and twice over. When he turned to investigate the outrageous claim, it quickly became clear that his old friend Charlie wasn't the one manning the costume. In fact, it was quite clear that it wasn't being manned at all. As he draws closer to investigate, a chill creeps into his soul and his heart freezes. He'd recognize the scent anywhere, and the eyes staring at him, wide and startled through the eye slit of the costume, had haunted his nightmares for the past three years. Taylor Hannah had destroyed his ego. Broke his heart. And was back in town.
He didn't care why she was back. Wouldn't worry that she was obviously injured. He was engaged to a nice, steady woman who was everything Taylor wasn't, and that's the end of it. The relationship with Taylor had struck out once. He had no intention of going to bat again.
Sloan McCaffrey met Taylor at Jacy's Java and fell instantly in lust. Determined to cozy up to the sexy, adventurous woman, playboy Sloan heads into Thrill Seekers to secure himself some time with the woman, even if its on the slopes. Eve Hannah, though, pegs him for a cad from the start and doesn't give Sloan's legendary charm a chance.
He may have come looking for some Taylor-made fun, but Eve's the one to spark something inside him, despite her chilly reception and biting personality. And she's supposed to be the sweet one? Still, something draws Sloan to her and he maneuvers his way into her life. Not that she's worth more than the obligatory three dates max, of course, but still...she gets to him. In ways he doesn't quite understand. Eve, however, doesn't trust Sloan further than she could bat a curve ball, and her hard-to-get routine is no act. Sloan would have to be a far better man to crack Eve's icy shell.
This light double header romance is the third in the Richmond Rogues series, and apparently, I've managed to get myself rather addicted to them. Quickly paced, sexy and heartfelt, Strike Zone made me grin and chuckle and left some warm, fuzzy feelings around in its wake. These books have really become a guilty pleasure of mine.
I wasn't quite as fond of the lead characters here as I was of the Bat Pack from the previous book, and I had a hard time feeling much sympathy for either Taylor or Brek at first. She left him at the alter and he was kind of an unfeeling jerk when she came back. I understand why both those things occurred, and sympathized with the reasons...just not necessarily the characters. By the time I started thawing towards them, things had progressed to a different level and I started to appreciate the depth of emotional resolution and acknowledgment of their issues that Angell allowed. And I was thoroughly entertained by bad boy Sloan as he jumped through hoops for Eve. He was a cad, sure, but he was cute with it, and I was particularly impressed with the depth of character he was given. His character was shallow, yes, but tempered with keen observational skills and a kind nature.
I liked dropping back to a double header romance as opposed to the triple as we got in Curveball (Richmond Rogues, Book 2) or the two and a half that was in Squeeze Play (Richmond Rogues, Book 1). It allowed for more emotional territory to be covered in both relationships to the betterment of the story as a whole. This series is light and sexy, meant to be more fun that factual, so a willingness to go with the flow is necessary to gloss over some of the inconsistencies and implausibilities, most of which relate to the sport of baseball. It's a fun series, to be sure, just this side of fluff, and can be thoroughly enjoyed as such.
There were some wicked formatting issues on my Kindle version, though. Several times I was distracted by random sentence fragments plopped down in the middle of scenes or tacked on to the end of dialogue. They were fragments from surrounding sentences so it was obviously some sort of technical mistake as opposed to typos, but it was very distracting, especially during the sex scenes or at a tender moment. This didn't happen all the way through the book, nor did it happen a lot...maybe seven or eight times, but it was annoying when it did.
I was also perplexed by what seemed to be an inconsistency in the timeline of the story. Without going into details to prevent spoilers, there was an animal fund raising event that occurred months after a major conflict between Eve and Sloan. Yet when Sloan referred to purchasing a house right after the night of that major conflict, he said it was three weeks ago.
Admittedly, any book following the wacky Bat Pack was going to be a slight let down for me because I really enjoyed those guys a lot, but Angell balanced most of that with stepping up the development of the relationships featured and giving more page time for character evolution. I hope that's a trend that continues, because she's managed to blend a light, sexy romance with some emotional honesty and growth and it added a dimension to the book that the others didn't quite manage. Still, with the few issues I mentioned, I couldn't rate it quite as high as the last. Close, though. And I can't wait for Sliding Home (Richmond Rogues, Book 4). I've already downloaded it and will be queuing it up soon. Bring on more Rogues!
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