The Sweet Spot
I picked this book off our review list when I saw it was about a pro-baseball player. Baseball is one of the few sporting events I actually understand and really enjoy, so I was looking forward to spending my summer not just watching the sport but reading about it. I hadn’t read Stephanie Evanovich before but I heard her books were light hearted and contained humor. Sporty and funny? Sounded like a perfect summer read to me. Of course things aren’t always what we expect. . .
Sometimes days just get off to a bad start. That’s Amanda Cole’s reasoning as she finds herself cleaning bird poo out of her hair while trying to deal with a man who is demanding reservations in her restaurant for a Really Big Star. And the computers seem to be offline. All this before she’s even sat at her desk! She complies and marks the date on the calendar, sure that whatever pompous jerk is insisting on the star treatment doesn’t deserve it half as much as he thinks he does.
She is dismayed to be proven wrong. Chase Walker is the current golden boy of Major League Baseball. Handsome, charitable and talented beyond belief he is the star player of the New York Kings and draws a crowd wherever he goes. Some would even find him magnetizing – “His charisma entered the room ten seconds before he did.” That charm is lost on Amanda. She quickly engages in some verbal sparring with Chase, calling his name an oxymoron and daring him to know that big word, a tactic which actually engages Chase’s interest. Assuring him it will pass she blows him off and goes on about her night. And her next night. And her next. Chase quickly becomes a regular, asking her out every evening after enjoying his meals. Realizing that he isn’t going to give up till she gives in, Amanda agrees to a night out. Then works herself into a worry wondering where he is going to take her.
That worry proves to be ill founded when he takes her to her own restaurant for dinner. Turns out that behind her back he spoke to her staff and got them to open up on a night they are closed for just the two of them. When she confronts one of the employees with the fact that it is her restaurant and they did not have approval from her to do this, she is told, “Amanda, you are hands-down the best boss I’ve ever had. You’re an amazing lady that I’m proud to work for. But sometimes you don’t know how to get out of your own way, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.” An evil person (such as myself) would fire him. An evil person (such as myself) would advise Mr. Baseball Star that while my job might not be as glamorous as his, I needed it and didn’t appreciate him undermining me to my staff or hanging out at my place of work like some stalker. Amanda is not an evil person and accepts the chastisement as her due and is charmed by Mr. Baseball Star’s kind gesture which kept her from being exposed to such evils as the paparazzi.
The story pretty much stays the same from there with Chase making decisions for Amanda’s own good and Amanda agreeing that he’s right, either right away or after a token resistence. We learn that Chase’s attraction to Amanda comes from her classy upbringing and the fact that she is always so poised and ladylike. Then we learn just how much that means to him when the following occurs:
And just like that, she triggered him. Her vulgarity was not only deplorable but completely unexpected and he instinctively reacted to it. With well-honed reflexes, Chase grabbed her upper arm and spun her halfway around. Seconds later, she felt the stinging slap of his free hand connecting smartly with the right side of her behind.
A few minutes later, after some ineffective self-defense on the part of Amanda, we hear this:
”Amanda, in ten seconds, I’m going to full-on spank you. If you really don’t already know why, we’ll discuss it later. You can fight me, accept it, or call the cops, when it’s over, but make no mistake, little girl, it’s about to happen.”
Now those who have already read Big Girl Panties by the same author are already aware that this couple is into spanking games. And those who read more than a few pages into this book are aware of it (at least as far as the hero goes) but this entire scene crossed my final line. There is a difference between a couple playing whatever mutually agreed upon games they want to play and someone disciplining their partner for having what they perceive to be a potty mouth. That difference is consent. Chase is aware of the idea of consent because he mentions later that:
You really didn’t seem the type or pick up the vibe. Girls with a taste for it usually tip their hands pretty quickly. I don’t even have to make like it’s my idea. They practically throw themselves over my lap when I even hint at it.
So he knows what girls are like when they enjoy it, he knew Amanda didn’t pick up the vibe but he felt it wasn’t even worth a conversation? He even admits it’s not always sexual but can sometimes be just about disciplining her for behaving in ways he doesn’t find appropriate!
So let me just sum up where we are at so far. We have a not so well written book, with a not so believable premise that includes a complete doormat of a heroine and a hero who gets off on punishing the woman in his life when she behaves badly. I’d tell you just how the two characters never wind up having a healthy relationship but I have already revealed enough and don’t want to give away the ending.
I don’t recommend this book. Its only saving grace seems to be that it doesn’t take itself seriously but given the price I think readers might feel differently. I’m just glad the author’s aunt is a much better writer. From now on when I see the name Evanovich on a book I will make darn sure it is preceded by the name Janet.