Monday, March 13, 2017

Swinging at Love by Kendra C. Highley

Outfielder Tristan Murrell has a problem. As the number two slugger for the Suttonville Sentinels, his team is counting on him to make their very first run at the state championship. But he has a secret—his swing has totally deserted him. As in, he can’t hit anything. He needs to fix the issue, and fast, but how?

Ballerina Alyssa Kaplan has a problem, too. The shiny new sports complex in town has left her family’s batting cage business on the verge of going under. Nailing her audition for a prestigious dance company is everything, but there’s no way she’s letting her some shiny big-box company destroy her family’s livelihood.

Tristan needs a miracle. So does Alyssa. And maybe, just maybe, Tristan’s secret weapon might be the girl of his dreams...

Disclaimer: This book contains hot, shirtless baseball players, kisses that bring a ballerina to her knees, and a lot of baseball smack-talk.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The adult in me is rating 4 stars. However, I do believe actual young adults will find this book impossible to put down, with all the addictive, page-turning elements (tropes) on the pages.

Welcome back to Suttonville, where last we readers enjoyed Kyle and Faith's relationship grow. In this installment in the series, their friends get a chance at budding romance.

Alyssa, or Chickadee ('Dee) as her father calls her, is a hard-working, driven, and dedicated girl. She's a good student, a ballet dancer, and an ex-softball player. She works at her father's ailing/failing business round-the-clock. Swing Away, which has batting cages for big and small ballplayers. She's a supportive friend, to the point she usually allows them to walk all over her, which I did find a contradiction to her personality.

Tristan is a ballplayer with a problem. He's so stressed out from the upcoming championship, with the need to not let his team down, his swing is way off. He's lost his mojo. Instead of going to the new mega complex to bat, the one all the town and his teammates visit, he heads to Swing Away in private.

This is the setup for Alyssa and Tristan to meet. She helps him 'slow down' his game, relax, and unexpectedly find love.

What I enjoyed most about this novel, other than Alyssa and Tristan, is how the family members are all realistic and present in the lives of their children. More often than not in young adult novels, we see the children raising themselves, or raising their parents, as the conflict. Not this time around, and I applaud the author for the realism.

One of the morals of the story is stress, stress both young adults and adults alike can identify with. Alyssa is stressed about getting into dance camp, and Swing Away failing. Tristan is stressed about being so perfect, he's messing up. The kids are stressing about their friends. The parents have very real fears/stressors about losing a business that is tied to their home as well. It was realistic, with a good moral, showing how working through all the stress, dealing with it, is far better than hiding from it while you wait for it to pass.

Another moral is for teens, but I do believe adults should have a listen. Crushes, we've all been there. You may have never even spoken to your crush, but you feel a sense of ownership to him/her, and you place your stamp on the them, and if your friends try to date your crush, they are a bad friend. We see it as loyalty/disloyal. But we don't see the crush as a human being with a say in it. A relationship is between two people, and you're not entitled to the crush, just because you want them. What do you like, other than vapid things, if you've never even spoken to this person? There's a good chance you won't get along, and a greater chance your friend will. It's wrong to be controlling of both your friend and a stranger, as if you have a say in their dating life. I liked how the author focused on this, as Tristan and Alyssa's best friends both called dibs, not even knowing their crush's name, causing pain for all around.

This is where I go into what I didn't quite enjoy, where it didn't quite work, as it ties to above. The pacing is fantastic, a real page-turner. It's quick and easy to fall into the story, with likable, realistic characters. It's on the verge of insta-love, but in a cute, warm your heart way. But it felt concluded early on, then drawn out with a conflict I felt wasn't a conflict at all. Miscommunication is a pet-peeve of mine, in imagination-land and in real life. But at least it wasn't between Alyssa and Tristan (once it was – a tiny blip I knew was coming).

The miscommunication was between the best friends, calling dibs on crushes when they'd never spoken to them and didn't know their names. This caused our lovebirds to stay a secret, instead of manning up about it. It wasn't really a conflict, and it highlighted how bizarre/wrong it is to place a stamp of ownership on another human being just because you like how they look and their social standing. Bit of a mean girls situation played out, but I'm glad it was shown in a light young adults would learn from.

I was unsure how Alyssa's BFF had a complete 180 so quickly, it was out of character. But Dylan was in his character. So while I can appreciate what was on the pages, the story of Tristan and Alyssa felt complete by the 20% mark in the book, when it's usually a journey between the couple.

Swinging at Love was cute, heartwarming, a bit over-the-top at the ending, yet realistic the rest of the time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it in a heartbeat. I look forward to more in this series, and more by this author. Kendra C. Highley is becoming one of my favorite YA authors.

Young adult age-range: 13+. Kissing. Mild Swearing. PG with 17-year-old narrators.

Also Available in the Suttonville Sentinels Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our The Bad Boy Bargain post.

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.

Connect with Kendra

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Swinging at Love (Suttonville Sentinels #2) by Kendra C. Highley to read and review.

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