Fans of sports-themed romances rejoice as the third installment in the More Than a Game series has been released! Keep reading to get a glimpse of Making a Comeback by Kristina Mathews as well as learning about the music behind the crafting of this book and other goodies from the other sites hosting this tour. You'll also get my impressions of this book as well as having the chance to win a $15 bookstore GC just by filling out the form below!
When I was first asked to come up with a playlist for my new book, Making A Comeback, I initially thought I would have a hard time coming up with something. I tend to listen to old favorites, over and over and over again. Mainly because I can never remember my iTunes password to update my music.
However, I realized that music plays a pretty big part in the story. The book opens with Annabelle Jones rocking out in her convertible singing along to “Don’t Stop Believin’.” And yes, that song is on my iPod. I’d fear I’m showing my age, but the song is often played at sporting events when a team is behind. At AT&T Park, if the Giants are behind after the seventh inning stretch, they play “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Often, Steve Perry can be found leading the crowd in a sing-along. If they are ahead, they play “Lights.”
Nathan Cooper uses music to deal with the possibility that he may not play baseball again. He hides behind his guitar, but it also keeps him from shutting downs his emotions completely.
Annabelle’s daughters ask him to play “Let It Go.” If you know of any kids, especially girls under the age of twelve, you have heard the song from Disney’s Frozen. Cooper doesn’t know the song at first, playing “Let It Be” instead.
Annabelle had listened to Cooper playing his guitar on his porch at night, she found comfort in his music. One of the songs he played was Dave Matthews Band’s “Crush.” This is one of my favorite songs from Before These Crowded Streets, a 1998 album that I used to refer to as the “Magic Baby Calming CD,” since when my first born was a baby all I had to do was pop him in his swing and play the CD and bliss, he would stop fussing and usually fall asleep.
One of the songs I would have included, but I don’t think I did is Def Leppard’s “Photograph.” Cooper first fell head over heels in lust with Annabelle after seeing her photograph on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Most of these choices make it painfully obvious I’m over forty. Over forty and completely out of touch with the modern music era. At least my teenagers would agree with that.
The other music I listened to while writing this story is an album called Outside Lands by Tim Flannery and The Lunatic Fringe. Flannery was the third base coach for the San Francisco Giants until he retired after last year. He is also a musician and has spent the last several offseasons touring with his band to raise money to support Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was brutally beaten at Dodger Stadium and will face lifelong disabilities.
One last song I want to mention is the hotel stairwell performance of “Pancho and Lefty” by Tim Flannery and Giants pitcher Jake Peavy. Not only is it a moving acoustic performance, but it is more interesting because Flannery was one of Peavy’s early coaches. Plus it’s a nice glimpse into the off-the-field life of ballplayers. Ballplayers who have a love of the game and of music.
With a divorce in the works, Annabelle Jones heads out to Southern California, the land of sun and starting over. She wants to prove to herself and her young daughters that she still has what it takes to turn heads as a swimsuit model—that she doesn’t need a man to take care of her. Until an accident forces her to rely on the hunky, yet mysterious man next door…
Nathan Cooper is trying to revive his own career. Once a top left-handed relief pitcher, he tried to get over a hidden injury with the aid of banned substances. Not only was he caught and suspended, he was traded and missed out on winning the championship. Now he’s a free agent without a contract, and that means life is ready to play ball…
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
As a fan of sports-themed romances I was immediately drawn to the premise of this story that's part of the More Than a Game series but can definitely be read on its own. Though there's familiarity in the action it's the characters that sets this book apart from the crowded genre as each of the main characters is immensely likable and endearingly flawed. From start to finish Ms. Mathews has crafted a tale that's sweet yet sensual with no real angst but deep emotional growth that fully immerses readers in their journey to HEA.
At one time Annabelle Jones was the fantasy of every guy, her face gracing the pages of magazines and walls until she left the business to get married and have beautiful twin girls. Becoming divorced and moving across the country has her starting over until a car accident derails her plans. With no one to count on to help her recover she's forced into accepting the help of her sexy neighbor who she's been attracted to since he moved in. The more time they spend together the more they come to count on one another for the emotional support that's always been missing from their lives to make a future together. Though Annabelle was a model she didn't have superficial trappings, others may have placed value on her looks but she did not. She was a strong-willed woman who didn't live to ask for help who only wanted to be a positive role model for her daughters. Despite all the times she was knocked down she always got right back up, never wallowing in pity.
Nathan Cooper's entire life has been devoted to baseball until an injury and a poor choice leaves his career hanging in the balance. Guilt and shame are his only companion now as is disappointment in himself for the fans who once called him hero. Though he's recovered from his injury he's still paralyzed by all these feelings weighing on him with the only bright spot being his fantasy girl living next door. Though he doesn't feel worthy of her and doesn't want the truth about himself to come out to her, he can't help coming to her aid when she needs it most. Seeing himself through her eyes, and that of her daughters, gives him a feeling of worth beyond just baseball. Cooper's a delicious hero who knows he did wrong and truly wants to make amends. Though he's attracted to Anabelle he doesn't want to bring any negativity to her life as she's rebuilding hers, but when she needs his help he steps up to the plate in heroic fashion. He shows himself to be a loyal and loving man with more to offer than just his talent to play baseball and his charming interactions with Annabelle's daughters endeared him to me.
This was a sweet and sensual story with a lot of heart. The friends to lovers relationship progressed a bit slowly but Cooper and Annabelle's interactions
charmed me as it felt like two teens experiencing love for the first time. Though I prefer a bit more steam when it comes to the sexual interludes I still found these moments satisfying. Along with the wonderful main couple came the equally delightful Olivia and Sophie, Annabelle's twins. I don't normally like children in books but they were entertaining with antics that put a smile on my face. They also brought out an unexpected paternal side to Cooper that made me like him even more. From start to finish this was a satisfying read that gave me lots of warm fuzzies while reading it and I recommend it to all lovers of romance.
My rating for this is a B.
*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
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 she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing.
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 more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran 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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