As a fan of Ms. West's New York Kings series I'm thrilled to introduce you to this new series starter that depicts the ups and downs and the personal struggles of those players finding their place in the Minor Leagues while hoping to join the big show one day. Keep reading to get a tempting glimpse of Single by Collette West, along with my impressions of this sweet and charming tale, and then add it to your bookshelf. In honor of this first installment in the Stockton Beavers series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!
Underdog Luke "Single" Singleton is yearning to make a comeback. After getting hit in the neck with a pitch—an injury that nearly cost him his life—he has one last chance to play for his hometown team, the Stockton Beavers. But his mom has Alzheimer's, and he's all she has to depend on. How can he pursue his career, much less someone special?
Personal care aide Roberta Bennett is done dating baseball players. Having had her share of heartbreak, she heads to Stockton hoping for a fresh start. But after she finds Luke’s mom outside, lost, and alone, she can’t refuse when he hires her on the spot. Unbeknownst to Luke, Roberta is all too familiar with the violent tendencies of the pitcher who hit him.
Now that they’re living under the same roof, the last thing either of them is looking for is a relationship. But it’s not long before they find themselves drawn to each other. And right when Luke is thinking about finally making a change to his single status, a secret from Roberta's past emerges with the power to tear them apart.
And just like that, that old aching wound throbs anew within my heart. Dad died of a heart attack last spring. Losing him as unexpectedly as we did changed our lives forever, but Mom, for the most part, doesn't even remember that terrible day—her Alzheimer's granting her a reprieve. But I remember. I remember enough for the both of us. When Mom was first diagnosed, Dad swore he’d never put her in some nursing facility—and now that he’s gone, I intend to do everything in my power to honor his promise to her. This is her home. This is where she feels comfortable. And this is where she's going to stay. It’s what Dad would’ve wanted.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
After falling in love with the men of Ms. West's New York Kings series, I was excited for the chance to get to know about the men and lives of a small town team far away from the glitz and glamour of the Big Leagues. Again Ms. West doesn't disappoint as she's crafted a story long on emotions as two bruised souls try to recover from their painful pasts at the hands of one man. Throw in a sweet romance and a deft and careful handling of the weighty issues of domestic abuse, and the all-encompassing ravages of those afflicted with Alzheimer's, and you end up with a memorable and thought provoking read.
Luke Singleton is still recovering from a horrific injury at the hands of a jealous and violent ball player, still working through the fear of being hit again and not making it to the Big Leagues in honor of his father. That's not the only thing weighing on his mind though as he's also dealing with his mother's Alzheimer's disease getting worse. Luke's a sweet person, caring and loyal, who's desperate to do right by his mother and care for her at home. It's getting harder to do that though and it's starting to put his career in jeopardy. With no one else to turn to he calls on the woman he's long been enamored with to help him keep his secret. Roberta still fascinates him but their entwined pasts keep her from giving in to the feelings he inspires in her. He's not one to give up on anyone though and becomes her friend while subtly working his way to being more. Luke's a wonderful character, not my typical book boyfriend as his sweet side far outweighs any Alpha pushiness. He's a loving son, not ashamed to sing to his mother to make her smile, and cares for her in a way that lets her keep her dignity despite her disease taking her away from him bit by bit. He's humble too, supportive of his teammates as seen in playful banter on and off the field. His romance with Roberta is sensual but not scorching but that in no way makes it any less satisfying. On so many levels Luke is the quintessential hero, from his aw-shucks attitude to his unwavering support of others to those sentimental moments of love he's not afraid to display, and is a fine addition to the heavy hitters Ms. West is so good at creating.
Roberta's a character that we've met before in the world of the New York Kings and the impressions she left me with weren't positive. She appeared cold and calculating, a shrew who made others miserable. I never thought she'd become a person you'd cheer for but it speaks volumes as to Ms. West's talent that she was able to redeem someone so irredeemable. We get to know the real Roberta here and she ends up being a survivor, a caring person with demons of her own at the hands of an abusive and stalking ex-husband. Her former life left her damaged, unwilling to believe in love, but the time she spends with the kindhearted Luke tempts her greatly. Roberta's a caretaker in this story, and a very good one, as she cares for Luke's mom just as lovingly as he does and it endeared her to me. I enjoyed this softer, less self-assured side, as it made her more relatable. Her issues with her ex were heartbreaking and the connection it has to Luke might've broken apart any other couple but it's a credit to Luke's ability to forgive that he wholeheartedly stays by Roberta's side, never forcing her to confide in him until she's ready.
This was a sweet story that dealt with some heavy issues in a respectful yet powerful way. Small town living, with all its colorful denizens, was on display here too to charm me and further immerse me in the lives of the ball players trying to make it to New York. I enjoyed the witty and playful banter between the players, the unwavering support when one of their own is threatened, which has me excited for more stories as I found myself drawn to Danny and Rob. The scenes on the field were vividly depicted and had me cheering along with the fans who start to feel like family as we get to see a few of them up close and personal. I normally like my romances to be on the steamier side but the sweeter and gentler interludes here were a reflection of Luke's personality and character and felt just as satisfying. Roberta's redemption was unexpected but perfectly played out to make it believable and the HEA she has with Luke is richly rewarding because of it. All in all this is a delightful start to a new series and shows once again why I consider Ms. West the best when it comes to romances set in the world of baseball!
My rating for this is an A-
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball’s biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette‘s impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.
Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as manygames as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she’s not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers.
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