Author: M.J. Compton
Publisher: Loose ID
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Caroline Maplethorpe spent a summer as plaything for a minor league baseball team…and oh, how Win Winston played.
Seven years later, she’s respectable, and he’s in the big leagues. Now that he’s found her again, he still wants her in a major way. But their second-chance relationship attracts too much publicity, and the third member of their long-ago ménage threatens to destroy the respectable life Caroline so carefully reconstructed after that crazy summer.
Review: Caroline Maplethorpe life is lived according to her father’s wishes. After her mother’s death seven years earlier, she’d gone a little crazy and escaped for a summer of fun. After returning and going to college, however, she’d trod the straight and narrow and adapted to the life that her father wanted her to live, dating one of the “Blandoids” her father picked for her and her sisters, working with her sister Victoria at the breast cancer foundation her father had formed in honor of her mom, and obeying the invisible strings of obligation that came with any gift or job or money he gave to any of his children. His love was conditional–they had to do what he wanted to receive his love AND his largess. Her sister Alexandra was in college, getting the degree her father wanted. Their family dynamic was skewed, to say the least.
Then, one night at the country club, someone from her “lost summer” showed up. Win Winston, the baseball player. His elbow injury had sidelined him from playing in the majors, so he was going to rehab and recover working in the farm leagues where they lived. Her dad didn’t know about her summer of fun–she’d lied to everyone. They thought she’d spent the summer as a counselor at a church camp. When Win didn’t play along with her explanation about how they knew each other, her father started becoming suspicious. With that, Caroline’s life started unraveling–or more to the point, the facade she’d created to keep her dad off her back did. Her dad was like a bulldog, and when he thought he’d caught one of them in a lie, he didn’t stop until he’d uncovered EVERYTHING.
Both Carrie and Win had been escaping something that summer seven years ago. Family secrets had opened ugly wounds, and both of them were trying not to feel the pain, indulging in behavior they never would have before. Unfortunately, feelings became involved on both parts, and time wasn’t kind to those feelings. Buried, kept hidden, they’ve festered for Caroline. She feels betrayed–but so does Win. In the bittersweet love affair’s ending, both were left feeling abandoned and betrayed. And both of them were right. Caroline had left a message that was never returned–but maybe there was a reason. Maybe he’d never gotten her message? And as for him finding her–the fact she’d never given him her real name could have been a problem. While she was waiting for a call from him, she always knew where he was. He was always searching for her, but he didn’t have all the information he needed. Problem? Hell, yeah.
How these two resolve their differences while fighting their still present attraction is like a baseball game, with each taking turns winning innings until Caroline’s dysfunctional family members decide to interfere. Victoria’s malicious pitch to the gut could send Win out of the game for good unless Caroline steps in.
And then there’s another surprise…
I enjoyed this story about these two damaged people, caught up in family dynamics beyond their control. The plot line was interesting and the writing was well-done. I felt a few hiccups in timing and thought there were some unnecessary detours, but otherwise it was a solid summer read. Thanks!