Thrown by a Curve
Berkley Trade / March 5, 2013 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital
She thinks she knows this player—but he has a few surprise moves.
For Alicia Riley, her job as a sports therapist for the St. Louis Rivers baseball team is a home run—until she becomes the primary therapist for star pitcher, Garrett Scott. Out of the lineup with an injury, he’s short-tempered, hard to handle, and every solid inch, a man.
Right now, the only demand he’s making on Alicia is that she get him ready to pitch in time for opening day. Except the sexual chemistry between them is so charged, Alicia’s tempted to oblige Garrett just about anything. But both their careers are at stake—one bad move and it’s game over for both of them.
Garrett also feels the hot sparks between them, and the way he figures it, what better therapy is there than sex? Now all he has to do is convince the woman with the power to make the call.
The greatest thing about Jaci Burton's Play-by-Play series, besides its gorgeous sports heroes and themes that show a real enthusiasm for the world of American sports, is that it gets better with each successive release. Thrown By a Curve returns to the world of baseball with Garrett Scott, a star pitcher who has had a major set-back with a shoulder injury that could wreck his career, and Alicia Riley, a sports medicine therapist on the team who knows she has what it takes to get Garrett back on top.
In many of the Play-by-Play series, Burton's heroines work with the heroes on some aspect of their careers, giving these all-stars a human quality that makes them real to the reader. These heroes need something from the heroines besides true love, and this provides a fantastic foundation to build a romantic relationship from. This also gives Garrett and Alicia an opportunity to spend time together and develop a rapport that might be otherwise difficult to achieve. Each scene working on his therapy serves a purpose, not to mention allowing ample opportunity for playful banter, and soon Garrett and Alicia are feeling more for each other than just therapist or patient.
He frowned. “Huh?”
“Why did you choose me? You had to know I don't have half the experience of some other members of the team.”
“I told you why. Because you didn't take any of my shit and you told me exactly how you'd handle me.”
“So...” He looked down at his shoulder then back at her. “Handle me.”
Alicia and Garrett's scenes, with heated dialogue and building sexual tension, eventually lead to a physical relationship. Alicia has reservations with the conflict of interest, and Garrett is set on his goal of a full recovery, but somehow those concerns fall away the more they are around each other.
“It's a mistake. And we both know why.” She walked to the doorway leading her to her room, then stopped and turned to face him. “Thanks for being such a good guy about it.”
She turned, and he was right there, palming the wall next to her head, his body inches from hers. Testosterone rolled off him in waves. If he stepped in just a little closer, they'd touch. If he leaned in a little, his mouth would be on hers again. She wasn't sure at this moment if she wanted that or not.
Oh, who was she kidding? She wanted it, wanted him. If he kissed her again, she wouldn't stop him this time.
His eyes were hard glints of steel as he hovered only an inch away from her. “Make no mistake, Alicia. I'm not a nice guy. I knew exactly what I wanted on that bed. I still want you.”
Fighting it is impossible, and the book reaches a high point once Garrett and Alicia finally give in. The very best parts of romance come through as they find their way in both a working and personal relationship, and the emotional ties they've developed so quickly surprise both of them. Yet trying to keep their romantic involvement private, along with the pressure of the opening of baseball season and the expectation that Garrett will be starting pitcher once again, takes its toll, and Alicia and Garrett are forced to confront what's really most important to them.
The behind-the-scenes inside look at sports and the men who make up the teams in is inventive and unique in this series. Garrett is a flesh-and-blood man, not an icon, and Alicia is a strong, confident professional in her own right. These two individuals and their relationship is at the center, with a baseball field as the backdrop and romance as the focus, just as it should be.
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.