Strike Zone

Kate Angell
2008, Contemporary Romance
Dorcester, $6.99, 259 pages, Amazon ASIN 0505527081
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

As a life-long sports fan, I enjoy romances featuring sports stars as heroes. While, I haven't read the rest of the books in the Boys of Summer series, I enjoyed this book as a stand-alone read.

Taylor Hannah is leading an extreme skiing expedition when she learns that Bret Stryker is engaged. Three years earlier, Taylor left Bret at the altar and ran off to lead extreme adventures for Thrill Seekers, the company she and her sister run. At the time, Taylor's parents had recently died, and the still grieving young woman felt smothered by Bret and unable to be herself. However, she never forgot him, or forgave herself for leaving him at the altar. She decides it’s time to apologize to him while he's still single.

Bret is the star pitcher for the Richmond Rogues, a fictional MLB team, who’s already won multiple Cy Young Awards and is on his way to a record-breaking season. The last person he wants to encounter is Taylor – masquerading as the team's mascot – in the locker room. What he also doesn’t want is to feel a strong attraction to her. Although he's now engaged, he's never gotten over the hurt and anger she caused him.

Neither Bret nor Taylor is perfect, but I found them both interesting. It took years for Bret to consider a serious relationship with another woman and it's obvious he's picked Hillary, the mayor's daughter, solely because she's the complete opposite of his former fiancé. Taylor loves danger, and excitement - Hillary is shy and safe. Taylor and Bret had chemistry, sizzle, and spark; Bret has no real chemistry or spark with Hillary, but he doesn't believe she'll ever leave him at the altar. Despite his best intentions, Bret soon becomes involved in Taylor's life.

Taylor has her flaws as well, starting with leaving Bret at the altar. Determined to be strong and independent at all costs, she avoids letting anyone get too close. Perhaps because of their flaws, I enjoyed both Bret and Taylor, and liked seeing them gradually heal and make their way back to each other. I didn't particularly enjoy the subplot involving Stryker's fiancé, but it was over fairly quickly, so it didn't detract substantially from the overall book.

The focus switched midway through the book to a secondary romance between Taylor's sister Eve and Sloan, a relief pitcher with the Rogues, with that couple receiving equal billing from that point on. I enjoyed the romance between Eve and Sloan a great deal. It was fun seeing Sloan, a cocky womanizer, fall hard for Eve, a thrill-avoider. However, I didn't really expect their romance to have such a prominent role. I felt that both of the romances were interesting enough that each deserved their own book.

Strike Zone is the first book I've read by Kate Angell, but it won't be the last. An interesting, rather mysterious new teammate is introduced late in the book and I'm definitely hoping for a book featuring him at some point in the future. For those of you who enjoy straight contemporaries - or sports romances - this one might be one to consider.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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