Kristin Hardy combines an energetic writing style, snappy dialogue, and sizzling love scenes to make Scoring a major league hit. This book follows Hardy’s debut, another Blaze title Hardy published last year. My Sexiest Mistake received a highly favorable review from AAR’s Nora Armstrong. Having read Scoring, I see just what Nora was talking about.
Becka Landon has red hair, green eyes, and an attitude. Three months earlier, she broke up with her cheating boyfriend and hasn’t given any man a tumble since. As team trainer for a minor league baseball team – the Lowell Weavers – Becka has had plenty of chances, but she’s kept all the hunky players at bay and now they’ve come to think of her as just one of the guys. Becka is tough, smart, competent, and just a tad sexually frustrated.
Enter ex-superstar ballplayer, Mace Duvall. His stellar career abruptly ended by a devastating car accident, at the urging of a friend, Mace is trying on a new job as the league’s roaming batting instructor. Since the accident, his life has been without purpose and he’s bitter about having his future stolen out from under him. Mace is scheduled to spend only one week with the Lowell Weavers, but when he sets eyes on Becka, he sees a bigger challenge than teaching young ballplayers how to hit, and getting the feisty redhead into bed becomes a top priority. But Mace’s reputation with the ladies has preceded him, and Becka wants nothing to do with the man who has escorted some of the world’s most beautiful actresses and models on his arm.
In his effort to seduce Becka, Mace comes on strong, which convinces her he’s nothing more than his playboy tabloid personae. Although Mace tries to convince her his reputation was mostly hype, she’s not buying it. He’s too good looking to be true, and she doesn’t want to be just another notch on his belt (though she finds him so sexy, she can barely concentrate when he’s around). One night, while blowing off a little steam playing pool, a wager is made, the outcome being if Becka loses, she spends the night with Mace. Becka loses.
After a night of blistering sex, Becka realizes that in losing, she won. But she’s not going to let Mace get the upper hand, so she leaves him an inflammatory note – in lipstick – on the bathroom mirror and sneaks out of his room. Since he was due to leave that day, she figures she’ll never have to see him again. But after one night with Becka, Mace has decided to stick around a little longer.
Thus begins a series of wagers and one-upmanship that drives Becka and Mace’s relationship. Finally, Mace has had enough of the game and proposes the two of them admit their attraction, and make the most of their time together before he leaves to go home to Florida. Mace still feels like a failure and that the league just handed him a courtesy job for old times’ sake. He doesn’t believe he can really make a difference to the team, even though Becka insists he’s a terrific coach and the boys really need him.
Even though their relationship began firmly and simply with lust, as Mace and Becka get to know each other, love begins to creep in underneath it all. They are each insanely strong people and are truly a match for each other. Mace may think he runs the show, but Becka rises to every occasion, meeting him head-on, setting rules of her own. When the real test of their relationship comes, I was a tad disappointed that Becka didn’t immediately take Mace’s side and defend him rather than question him, but every story has to have a Dark Moment, and fortunately, Becka moves past it pretty fast.
I’m always impressed when an author does her homework; Ms. Hardy sure knows her stuff when it comes to sports. As a baseball fan myself (Go, Mariners!), I was on the lookout for errors, but she never took a swing and a miss, thereby adding credibility to the world in which Becka and Mace operated. The central theme of the story is the romance between Becka and Mace, yet the peripheral characters and action all have their places and serve to move the story forward. Scoring strikes a good balance between sex, humor, and those things that drive people to do whatever it is they do. Becka and Mace are one hot couple, and they couple often, hotly.
AAR is always pleased to discover talented new authors. This is only Ms. Hardy’s second book and it sure was a hit with me, so the trend here is looking very good. If you’re up for a sexy read with the emphasis squarely on the romance between two strong, smart people, then I recommend you give Kristin Hardy a try.