In Double Play we meet Holly Hutchins, a popular journalist whose latest series features the lives of the members of the Pacific Heat baseball team. Holly specializes in uncovering secrets and she thinks the biggest team secret may come from star pitcher Pace Martin – and his bum shoulder.
Pace isn’t going to make life easy for a nosy reporter, but though he’d like to dismiss her as rude and annoying, he’s also attracted to Holly’s forthright nature. Holly would like to dismiss Pace as an egotistical jock but she quickly learns he has a giving heart. The main conflict is one of trust between the two. Can Pace trust Holly with his team and personal secrets given her job? Can Holly trust Pace with her heart?
Both Holly and Pace are very likable characters and their chemistry is strong and quite romantic. I really felt like they got to know each other over the course of Holly’s time with the team so when Pace said that he was attracted to Holly, I believed that he actually liked her and vice versa. Sometimes romance couples go from strangers to passionate lovers in a few pages, so I enjoyed the more steady relationship development featured here.
Apart from being sweetly romantic, Double Play was also pretty funny at times. I think I had a smile on my face from start to finish. In fact, this is a hard book to review because I enjoyed it so much. My critical reviewer’s cap was definitely off, and as I closed the book I think I would have given this a solid A.
However, the most basic of reflections throws up two issues with Double Play that I think might affect a reader during the reading rather than after it (as was my experience). Firstly, I doubt that the set-up of Holly getting close, personal access to the team when she’s known for unearthing shocking secrets is realistic. I don’t know what Public Relations Manager worth their expensive salary would think that was a good idea.
Secondly, like many sports series when a female enters the hallowed walls of the locker room, we’re witness to male superstition. Usually, it leans towards the male players thinking of the woman as a jinx. In Double Play, Holly is a good luck charm. Specifically, her kissing Pace right before every game is the lucky charm. While reading I thought it was cute if not a little short on privacy, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to surmise that some readers may fail to find the ‘cute’ in the objectification of Holly.
However, because I enjoyed the book so much, I’ll finish my thoughts on a positive: neither character spent much time agonizing over their main conflict and in fact, for Pace in particular, he jumped clear over this hurdle with Holly reasonably close behind. Double Play is blessedly short on melodrama, and I truly appreciate this in my contemporaries. This was my first Jill Shalvis, and I’m glad to have found her. I think I’ll take a look at her backlist and watch out for any new ones on the way.