|I sometimes wonder why more romances donít have sports stars as heroes.† After all, they have many of the attributes that should work well: fame, fortune, and good physiques.† Yet, with the exception of SEPís marvelous Chicago Stars series, we donít find all that many romances set in the world of sport.† Perhaps there is the perception that women just arenít that interested in athletic competition.† Indeed, I have seen posts by some readers saying that they avoid sports-based books.† As a rabid fan (Go Steelers! Go Pens! Go Phillies! Ė nobody says ďGo PiratesĒ anymore, sigh) I was pleased to discover that Jill Shalvis has ignored conventional wisdom and set her latest novels in the world of baseball. However, the romance is pretty conventional, however unconventional the setting.
Wade OíRiley is the star catcher for the expansion Santa Barbara Heat with a reputation as a ladiesí man.† When an over-enthusiastic fan (think stalker) claims that she is having his baby, the ownership decides to do some damage control.† What Wade needs is the appearance of a relationship that lasts longer than one night.† So the teamís publicist, Samantha McNead is ordered to pretend to be his girlfriend for at least a month.† Sam is not happy with the assignment.† She and Wade have a history Ė one memorable encounter in an elevator in Atlanta.† But Sam is a team player Ė as well as the daughter of the teamís owner Ė so she agrees to go along.
Her first assignment is to accompany Wade to the wedding of his best friend, a Hollywood producer.† Thus, she finds herself sharing a hotel room with the man who, for one brief moment, got her to forget her inhibitions and enjoy herself.† This is not going to be easy.
Wade would be happy to take up where he and Sam left off all those months ago.† Sam just knows it would be a big mistake.† So there is a lot of mental lusting and more than a few hot sex scenes when Sam gives in to her instincts.† But she is convinced that Wade is only interested in the sex and, beneath the surface, Wade has lots of insecurity.†
Both have issues that complicate the relationship.† Wadeís mother abandoned him at birth and his father was a drifter and an alcoholic.† Baseball was his way out of obscurity, but he isnít sure heís good enough to aspire to the wealthy, Ivy-league educated Sam.† Samís mother died when she was very young and her domineering father left her with her own problems.
The circumstances that force Wade and Sam together allow the two to discover each otherís real natures.† Yet the question is whether they will be able to let go of the ghosts of the past and find happiness.
Shalvis uses the baseball background nicely.† The reader gets a good sense of the challenges of a long season, the camaraderie amongst the teammates, the pressures of performing at a high level, day after day.† The sports stuff isnít intrusive, but it adds interest to the story.
As I noted above, the romance aspects of Slow Heat are pretty conventional.† There is lots of sex, some nice character development, and more than a little humor.† A perfectly acceptable contemporary romance.