Kissing Games
Grade : B+

I’ve read several books by Stefanie London (I particularly liked the ones she wrote for the now defunct Harlequin DARE line), including Kissing Lessons, the introduction to her Kissing Creek small town romance series.  Kissing Games, the second entry, has a fairly typical plot – an injured baseball star who is nursing himself back to health in his hometown meets a woman who makes him rethink his future. But there’s enough here to differentiate it from other books with a similar storyline, leaving a memorable and fun impression.

Ryan Bower is a major league pitcher with several major league problems. An injured knee, a contract about to expire, the realization that at thirty five his playing days are numbered, and discovering upon convalescing at home, that his parents are acting like newlyweds.  The blame for the latter appears to be the library book Stormy Pleasures he finds on the coffee table, with a sticky note attached, announcing it to be the current choice of the library book club run by Sloane Rickman.

Sloane is living the dream – well, her dream.  A friendly small town, a house all her own with a vegetable garden, a coffee shop where people know what her usual drink is, and a job she loves as the town librarian. When Ryan enters her library to complain about how the book club’s choice is giving him sleepless nights, she stands her ground. No one says bad things about book club, and he can take his antiquated views on sex and put them where the sun don’t shine.

Confused, (he likes sex just fine thank you very much!), and having struck up a weirdly antagonistic relationship with the adorably cute librarian with a penchant for dinosaur-themed clothing, Ryan finds himself picking up and reading the book out of curiosity (since everyone he encounters seems to have thoughts on Chapter 21). He also has to take his dad’s place on the Halloween parade committee when his father injures his back (don’t ask), which is headed by none other than Sloane (of course).  Forced to work together, Ryan and Sloane come to a truce and discover they kind of like being in each other’s company. But Ryan’s plans don’t include staying put for a minute longer than his recovery requires, and Sloane has finally put down roots meant to stay. Can they find their way to a happy future together?

I love romance books that use their storylines to prop up the genre so I think the author (who is’ incidentally. also a librarian) picks a fun way to do that by having many of the older women in town – including Ryan’s mother – be enthralled by a steamy romance. Ryan and Sloane’s first meeting has plenty of witty banter that continues through most of the story (including via text), that made me laugh out loud several times.

Ryan turns out to be quite a sweetheart despite the initial impression he gives. When Sloane shares with him that she’s had trouble making friends of her own age since she moved to town three years earlier, Ryan introduces her to an old friend recently returned to town who is still trying to find her feet and who could use a friend herself. When Sloane shares with him the challenging relationship she has with her father, he’s on her side. In return though, Sloane comforts Ryan as his team makes the playoffs without him, and she provides a sounding board as he talks about his injury and his professional future. And it isn’t long before they end up in bed together in some steamy scenes even if they are both convinced that it’s going to be a fling with an expiration date.

Sloane’s baggage includes her parents’ divorce, which she believes was a result of her mother’s career – which took her around the world while father and daughter uprooted themselves to follow her. It meant she never stayed long enough in one place to make friends, and has given her the impression that following someone for their career is bound to end in failure. As for Ryan, he’s sacrificed a lot for his baseball career, and his chances to reach the pinnacle – and the World Series – are fading with every year. Given the choice between a relationship and baseball, he’s always picked the sport. The obstacles facing their HEA are obvious, but the author does a splendid job of creating the compromise that results in a very satisfying ending.  Overall Kissing Games is a lighthearted, low angst, sexy, and funny romance which I’m happy to recommend.

Buy it at: Amazon

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Reviewed by Maria Rose

Grade: B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : April 14, 2022

Publication Date: 03/2022

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Maria Rose

I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
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