Friday, March 21, 2014

SUNNY: ARC REVIEW "Better Than Perfect" by Kristina Mathews

The woman he left behind and the son he never knew are tougher opponents than any he’s met on the field.

Pitcher Johnny “The Monk” Scottsdale has won awards, been named an All-star and has a perfect game to his credit. Known for his legendary control both on and off the field, his pristine public image makes him the ideal person to work with youth players in a preseason minicamp. Except the camp is run by the one woman he can’t forget…the woman who made him a “monk.”

Alice Harrison’s three strikes include an unexpected pregnancy, a marriage of convenience and young widowhood. She once traded her dreams so Johnny could have a chance at making it to the Majors. Johnny comes back into her life just as she’s ready to resign as foundation director and pursue her own dreams of finally earning her teaching credential. Her plans may go on hold, though, depending on the reaction when she confesses she may have kept a major league secret from Johnny and her son.

With the minutes ticking by until Johnny will leave for spring training, they’ll need to let go of the past and work together in order to win the game of love.


I'm a huge fan of romance featuring sports so I was exciting about this book.  I thought it had a lot of promise.  We have a stable, centered, super-star baseball pitcher and a strong-willed, self-sufficient single mom.  A second chance story, Johnny and Alice were college sweethearts.  But when he got his chance to go to the Majors, Alice didn't want to hold him back. They meet up years later when Johnny signs on with the hometown baseball team.  

Unfortunately, the conflict in the story is not enough to sustain the length of the book.  The writing tends to get repetitive.  For me, the main conflict between the two characters did not evolve.  If this were a color wheel, we get the same primary colors at each interaction with no shades or tints.  The same tension is repeated over and over again with almost the same context using almost the same words and phrases.  

There are two other strange writing choices.  First, it feels odd to include a third voice of a thirteen year old in the story. In the midst of being in the mind of a 30+ year old adult male and female, it switches to the point of view of a teenager.  It feels a bit jarring.  Perhaps this explains the other problem I have with the writing. There are times when the author slips into a Young Adult voice for her adult characters:  "Johnny had asked her to go with him to the Golden Gate Gala.  An real date. With a limo and everything."  I could be wrong, but that voice sounds curiously juvenile. 

Though a story with good potential, it falls far short of a home run.  

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