Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Tour for Worth the Trade By Kristina Mathews (Review & GIVEAWAY)

As a fan of sports-themed romances I was immediately drawn to this book and am excited to introduce you to Worth the Trade by Kristina Matthews.  Keep reading to get my impressions of this book and learn even more about it by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour.  You'll also learn from Ms. Matthews on why she thinks romance books featuring athletes have become so popular.  Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $10 Amazon GC too!

When I first started pursuing a writing career, I was told that athlete heroes were a no-no. Readers wanted Cowboys, Navy S.E.A.L.s, Dukes, or Sheiks. And if he was also a Vampire, even better. I was also told write what you know or even write what you want to know.
I know sports. I’m a woman and a sports fan, and judging by the long lines at the ballpark ladies’ room, I’m not the only one. Sports fans, especially women are passionate, knowledgeable, and loyal. These are the same qualities found in romance readers. Why not combine the two?
My first sports romance grew out of my growing frustration with sex scandals among athletes. Having two sons who played sports, I figured if I wanted them to have a better role model, I’d make one up. Johnny “The Monk” Scottsdale was born. I wrote his story even knowing it might not sell to traditional publishers. I needed to write it anyway. I worked on it for a year and when it was finally finished, editors were becoming open to romances featuring athlete heroes. That made me really happy because Johnny has teammates who have their own stories to tell. And as the growing number of sports romances available show, readers want more of those stories.
I’ve always been attracted to men who are passionate about something other than me. It shows they are able to commit to something bigger than themselves. Dedication to a sport is one way to show that ability to work hard for a common goal, be it a championship season or a relationship.
An athlete is usually in great shape physically. He is strong, capable, and comfortable in his own skin. All traits that make him very sexy. His body is a tool and he knows how to work with it, both on and, especially off the field.
 I think sports romances are popular because they do have built in conflict, usually related to the sport itself. You can go through the full gamut of emotions—from the thrill of victory, to the agony of defeat—but at the end of the day, it is just a game. When your team wins, you feel pretty good. You talk about it with your friends and neighbors. “Hey did you see that play last night? What an amazing catch.” And when they lose, well, you have others to commiserate with.
With a real sports team, there isn’t going to be a happy ending every year. I’m starting to realize just how special 2010 and 2012 were for the San Francisco Giants and their fans. And unlike in romance novels, there might not be a happy ending this year, even though it is an even year.
In romance, even if they don’t win the game, they will win at love. And that is the most important thing.

A ballplayer and a team owner would give anything for a championship—even their hearts…
After inheriting majority ownership of the San Francisco Goliaths baseball team, Hunter Collins wants to prove to herself—and the rest of the league—that she’s got what it takes to build a champion. Her first move is to trade for a hot left-fielder. He’s got it all, speed, power, and a desire to win. Not to mention undeniable charm.
Marco Santiago is tired of being the new player in town. After four teams in six years, he’s facing free agency at the end of the season. He wants nothing more than a long-term contract and a World Series win. Hitting on his new owner probably isn’t the best way to get it, but love may be the most powerful challenger either of them has ever faced...


“I’m only interested in winning the division and making a strong run in the postseason.” She turned her head to look out the window as if to show she was unaffected by the chemistry between them.
“Aren’t you a rotten liar?” He chuckled softly. Oh yeah, he was definitely getting to her. “Don’t join in the poker game at the next owners’ retreat. You’ll be wiped out.”
She whipped her head around so fast the car shook. “I happen to be a very good poker player. I can hold my own against anyone. Anytime.”
Interesting. Her strong reaction told him two things. She was insecure about her place among her fellow owners. And yes, she was interested in him on more than a professional level.
“That explains your wardrobe.” He leaned back, not ready to leave her just yet. “You dress like you do to fit in with the old boys’ club. But you can’t hide the fact that you are all woman.”
“And you can’t hide the fact that you don’t want to be here.” She dared look him straight in the eye, but couldn’t hold his gaze.
“I’m starting to come around.” He gave her one last smile.


Fans of sports-themed romances will find this a quick and easy read albeit a bit cookie cutter.  With issues we've seen before though it's the likable main characters that keep the story engaging as the hero and heroine are both strong-willed and trying to be the best they can be with the odds stacked against them.

Hunter grew up with a childhood that was quirky and might have left some heroines scarred.  She used it to her advantage though and slowly made her way to managing a baseball team.  Being a woman in a man's world she's had to be better than other men which has her being a walking encyclopedia of baseball.  I admired her using her knowledge to put snotty reporters and others in their place and the use of baseball in general was nicely incorporated into the storyline.  Hunter was very down-to-earth though she hobnobbed with the elite which was refreshing as she wanted to be known for who she was not who she was with.  She tends to be a tomboy but being around her newly-signed star player Marco has her thinking very girly and naughty thoughts that she fights every step of the way as she doesn't want to jeopardize her career.  Her connection to Marco is full of sexual tension but not much time is spent advancing their romance beyond this basic foundation which would've made the story sizzle.

Marco had a difficult childhood with baggage that still lingers.  He wants to be the best but I felt he was often just going through the motions until the end when he truly stepped up to the plate.  I enjoyed Marco with his slightly naughty ways but was hoping for a deeper connection between him and Hunter.  The barrier of boss and employee always seemed to be in the way to a certain extent.  That's not to say that Marco wasn't romantic though as he made Hunter feel like a woman, he was able to look past her role as boss to claim her in some very sensual scenes.

Not having read the first book in the More Than a Game series I was worried that my enjoyment of this would be diminished but this story stands nicely on its own.  With likable characters and sports scenes that are seamlessly woven into the story this was an engaging read with some smile-inducing moments.  Though the romance wasn't as deep as I'd hoped it was still a satisfying HEA that has me wanting to return to this world as there's plenty of players who caught my eye with stories left to tell.

My rating for this is a B.

*I bought this book using my own money for review purposes.

Kristina Mathews doesn't remember a time when she didn't have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn't until 2010 that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing romance novels.
While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she's remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, Parent Club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.
Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of twenty years, two sons and a black lab. Aveteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.



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