on July 14th 2017
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Double the romance…
Charismatic Dwight Conner is the most popular player on the Kilby Catfish, but he’s more than ready to leave behind the tumbleweeds of Texas for the Major League crowds of San Diego. With his skills and stats, it makes no sense that he hasn’t gotten called up yet. Unless it has something to do with the team’s gorgeous new “whiz kid”—data specialist Maggie Blythe.
Maggie jumped at the chance to put her graduate thesis to work in the real world. But she had no idea the real world of baseball would be so…irresistible. Especially when her roommate Nina drags her on a double date with a certain outrageously sexy centerfielder who decides to give her some hands-on instruction.
Double the fun…
Shortstop Jim Lieberman has been eating his heart out over Nina Stark ever since he nearly landed in her lap chasing a foul ball. Two things stand in his way—nerves and Nina’s overprotective All-Star brother. Maybe a double date with his friend Dwight will break the ice so he can stake his claim.
Nina’s dream is simple. She wants a family and a normal life after a childhood of turmoil. The problem? She’s secretly in love with the one man who apparently will never ask her out. Double date? Sure. Count her in. But the adorable Jim “Bieberman” still has to step up.
Cue the miscues, the call-ups, the on-field miracles, and the off-field disasters. In this Love Between the Bases novel, can two star-crossed couples add up to double the happy ever after?
Dwight leaned closer to her. She caught a whiff of his aftershave, something light and classic that made her think of the Rat Pack and waltzing across a ballroom floor. “How many ballplayers have you met?”
Maggie’s throat tightened. His nearness made the little hairs on her arms rise up, almost like static electricity.
“You’re the fifth.”
“How many baseball games have you seen?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, unsure where he was going with this. “In person or on TV?” she asked cautiously.
“Both. Either or.”
“I’ve watched thousands on TV. But I’ve only watched two Catfish games.” She didn’t mention that she’d watched only a few innings of each because of the heat. When she licked her lips nervously, his gaze dropped to her mouth, then skipped away.
“Have you ever played yourself? Softball in the park? Tossed a ball around with your dad?”
“No, no, and no. My father is not a ball-tosser. I don’t engage in sports. I don’t play the game. I watch the game. I analyze the game.”
“You analyze it. With your computer program.”
She leaned forward, so they were chin to chin. “That computer program took two years of my life. And required mammoth amounts of data input and parameter tweaking. I’ve read a hundred and five baseball books, including most of the Baseball Almanac. I’ve seen every baseball movie ever made—or at least every baseball movie available on Netflix.”
“And all that proves what? You’re the ultimate armchair baseball fan.”
She popped a salted almond into her mouth. “I bet I love the game more than you do.”
“Say what?” He sat back, his collar coming open enough so she saw the hard definition of his neck. What was she doing, arguing with a centerfielder about baseball? But she’d gotten herself into this and wasn’t about to stop now.
“You don’t love it, Dwight Conner. It’s a springboard for you. A stepping stone. You said it yourself. You picked the sport that would be least damaging to your body.”
His body. Now why had she mentioned his body? Awareness of his chiseled, powerful form now filled her consciousness—along with the shocked expression on his face.
“Me, I love baseball. I watched so many games when I was stuck inside. I’d listen to the announcers on the radio, and I felt as if I was there on the field with them. I researched all the players, I knew everything about them. I even wrote fan letters. Then, when I was in graduate school looking for a thesis topic in statistics, everyone wanted me to choose something serious, like reproductive health or climate change. I chose baseball. Because the idea of thinking about baseball all day long made me happy.”
She folded her arms across her chest and lifted her chin at him. “So, you tell me—who loves the game more, me or you?”
Dwight’s jaw was literally hanging open as he absorbed Maggie’s speech. Apparently, he’d hit a sore spot. He hadn’t intended to; he just wanted to know more about her. He definitely knew more now. He knew that when she got riled up about a topic, her entire face lit up like fireworks. He knew that she had a real passion for baseball. He knew that she turned him on. That she was sexy as hell.
And that she was right.
“You win.” He threw up his hands in surrender. “You win the prize.”
“The prize?” She blinked, as if surprised to find herself so carried away. “There’s a prize?”
“Yup. Have you ever been to Los Feliz Park?”
She shook her head. He wondered if she’d been anywhere other than her office since she’d gotten to Kilby. “The park has a batting cage and we’re going to hit some balls. You’re going to.”
The head-shaking continued, along with some eye-rolling. “Oh no. I can’t hit balls. I told you, I have a heart condition and I don’t do strenuous exercise.”
“Hitting a ball isn’t all that strenuous. You won’t have to run the bases because you probably won’t even get a hit.” He winked at her.
“I could definitely get a hit. I’m great at Ping-Pong.”
“There’s only one way to find out. Don’t you think if you’re going to work in baseball, you should at least try to hit a baseball?”
“Honestly, I don’t see the relevance, but I have no doubt that I could if I wanted to.” A competitive gleam blazed in her eyes—just what he wanted to see. It got under his skin that she was making decisions about people’s dreams and futures when she’d barely even seen a live game.
“Do you want to call your doctor to check if it’s okay? I can wait.” He sat back and folded his arms across his chest.
“What—you mean now?”
“Sure, now. You don’t drink, so what are we doing in a wine bar? Let’s get some fresh air and hit a couple of baseballs. Smell the grass. Get a little dirty.”
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Jennifer wants to know…
I wrote the Love Between the Bases series because I’m a lifelong baseball fan. What’s your favorite sport, either to watch or to play?
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Jim Lieberman and Dwight Conner, of the Kilby Catfish baseball club, are visiting children at the Kilby Community Hospital dressed as Disney princesses, and friends Nina Stark and Maggie Blythe are also there. Nina has had her eye on Jim for a while, but her redoubtable brother Trevor terrifies Jim, so Jim never found the nerve to ask Nina on a date. Dwight is not shy, he knows that Jim has been pining for Nina ever since he saw her, and Dwight is also intrigued by Maggie, especially after he learns that she is a grad student who has designed a programme for whom gets sent to the major leagues. So why not make it a double date and see what happens?
And what happens is pure magic Jennifer Bernard-style! Every book in the Love between the Bases is fabulous, but DOUBLE PLAY is extraordinary! Combining two romances in one book is not always successful, but Ms. Bernard makes it work like nobody’s business!
Adorable, clueless, brainy “Bieberman” is irresistible in his awkwardness, Nina is the sweet girl with solid values and a good head on her shoulders, and I think their romance with a small town feel is what a lot of us don’t dare dream of. They are so perfectly matched and genuinely endearing, young and so relatable. Boisterous and unabashedly sexy Dwight is a god on the outfield and loves the limelight, while Maggie is a serious, introverted intellectual, who has been coddled by her parents, and they are simply amazing together. DOUBLE PLAY has the best meet-cute ever, spectacular dialogues, and characters so well defined that, right from the beginning, I could picture them clearly, and I felt they were my friends as well. The characters have very compelling backstories, and I found fascinating the reasons why Jim and Dwight opted for careers in baseball.
DOUBLE PLAY is a fantastic read, even if you don’t know the first thing about baseball, because it is about people, it’s about real love, being true to yourself; it’s a book that grabs you, never lets go, and leaves you feeling happy. And if you love baseball, you will be over the moon! The writing is smooth, word-perfect, and everything is so well done, that twice the number of pages still would not have been enough. Make DOUBLE PLAY your summer treat, that kind of book doesn’t come around often. Heed my most enthusiastic recommendation and enjoy what I deem the best contemporary romance so far this year. Jennifer Bernard has written a no-run, no-hit game, and batted a grand slam for the win!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.