Thursday, August 1, 2013

REVIEW: "The Winning Season" by Alison Packard

The Winning Season

The Winning Season by Alison Packard
For Ages 18+
Contemporary Romance
Carina Press -- July 15, 2013
Ebook, 241 pages
Received from Netgalley

sports, bad boy heroes, hate at first sight

Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team's newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She's got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly's not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he's loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team's schedule on the road, they can't avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

"Hey, Maxwell, rumor has it you like it hard and fast."

I am not the biggest fan of contemporary romance, but, if there is a sport involved, I will pick it up with very few questions asked.  While The Winning Season was not the best sports romance I've ever read, I definitely enjoyed myself with this one.  The characters are fleshed out, the sports scenes are full of action without going into a lot of technical jargon, and the romance was pretty satisfying though there were some moments at the end that ruined my overall enjoyment.

Our heroine is Kelly Maxwell, a publicist with the San Francisco Blaze professional baseball team, whose main job is to keep high-priced athletes and pushy reporters in line.  I absolutely loved her character!  She is everything I look for in a contemporary heroine: smart, funny, successful, and pretty confident in herself.  Plus she has some vulnerabilities that help keep her relatable to readers especially her prior battle with bulimia.  I thought Alison Packard did a great job handling Kelly's eating disorder and showing the strength that it takes to live with something like that even years after "beating it."

Matt Scanlon is a catcher who used to be considered one of the good guys of Major League Baseball until last year when he began drinking and partying to excess.  His behavior (on and off the field) forced the Los Angeles Dodgers to trade him to the Blaze and he is definitely not happy with that arrangement.  When I first heard about Matt's antics, I was wondering how the author would do with his reformation, but I think she was pretty successful.  Matt is a hero who has a good heart yet had some major drama happen to cause his downward spiral.  I liked the fact that he took the time to understand Kelly and her personality and that he stood up for her with some of his teammates.  I do have to warn potential readers though that he does have a bit of jackass moment near the end that I wish had been addressed more since I like a bit more groveling from characters when they screw up like that.

The plot of The Winning Season takes place during the later half of the MLB season and shows how Matt and Kelly's relationship grows from a professional to a personal one.  I don't always seek out hate at first sight stories, but I found this one pretty amusing.  Both of the main characters are hot-tempered so their initial meeting makes sense to me.  I loved the way that they learned to trust one another during their forced interactions and their chemistry was blazing hot!  I thought the ending was sweet and romantic, but a bit abrupt.  I especially would love to have seen an epilogue showing what happened to the rest of the Blaze's season.

Because of the very public nature of Matt and Kelly's jobs, it also makes sense that there would be a large cast of characters.  For the most part, I was happy with the secondary characters' developments especially Kelly's actress sister, her studly boyfriend, and Alexis, Kelly's intern who appears to be suffering from eating problems of her own.  My personal favorites were Kelly's colleague, Angie, and Matt's teammate, J.T., who had tension and chemistry ever time they appeared on the page together.  I definitely hope to see Alison Packard tell their story in a future book.

Overall, I was impressed with this book especially with it being my first experience with the author.  I loved the baseball element and thought the romance was very entertaining if a bit predictable at times.  The ending ruined my overall enjoyment, but I still would recommend it to fans of sports-themed contemporaries.

I received a free copy of this book from Carina Press through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

"I didn't scare you, did I?  My driving sometimes has that effect on people."
"Oh, no."  He shook his head. "I've always enjoyed that chase scene in Bullet.  You gave Steve McQueen a run for his money."

1 comment:

  1. I think characters should grovel too when they mess up so I agree with you on that aspect. I like baseball a lot so that part of this story would appeal to me. Great review! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.


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