Tuesday, July 14, 2015

review || MAKING A COMEBACK { blog tour } by Kristina Mathews


Lyrical Press | July 7, 2015 | Contemporary Romance
More than a Game, book 3


With a divorce in the works, Annabelle Jones heads out to Southern California, the land of sun and starting over. She wants to prove to herself and her young daughters that she still has what it takes to turn heads as a swimsuit model—that she doesn’t need a man to take care of her. Until an accident forces her to rely on the hunky, yet mysterious man next door…

Nathan Cooper is trying to revive his own career. Once a top left-handed relief pitcher, he tried to get over a hidden injury with the aid of banned substances. Not only was he caught and suspended, he was traded and missed out on winning the championship. Now he’s a free agent without a contract, and that means life is ready to play ball…

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{ about kristina mathews } .

Kristina Mathews doesn't remember a time when she didn't have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn't until she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing.

While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she's remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, parent club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.

Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.

{ excerpt } .

Today was a good day. A glorious day. Sitting at the stoplight in the Southern California sunshine, Annabelle Jones did a drum solo on the steering wheel of her convertible Mercedes. She didn’t care if people stared at her singing along to “Don’t Stop Believing.” She hadn’t stopped believing, and look at her now, fresh off her first modeling job since filing for divorce. So it wasn’t the cover of Sports Illustrated, still, it was a job. Something she could be proud of. Her daughters could be proud of her.

It wasn’t about the money. The income she earned from this modeling job was more about pride. Having something to offer the world, even if it was just her face.

Annabelle wanted to show her daughters that a woman didn’t need a man to take care of her. She could stand on her own two feet, and return to the career she’d given up when she married Clayton Barry. She might not fly off to exotic locations or work with the world’s most famous photographers, but she was working.

She lifted her face to the sun, soaking in its warmth. It was as if the fog of the last few years had finally lifted. Nothing but blue skies ahead for her and her six-year-old twin daughters.

Today’s shoot was just the beginning. Her agent had two more jobs lined up for her before the end of the month. He’d also scheduled her to attend the televised celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. She hadn’t been able to make the photo shoot last fall in New York for the magazine, but he thought making an appearance on the live show would give her plenty of exposure.

Hopefully, she’d be able to juggle it all. Part of what appealed to her about today’s job was that it was close enough that she’d be able to shoot for a few hours and still get home in time to meet her daughters when they got off the school bus.

Annabelle glanced at the clock. If the light didn’t change soon, she wasn’t going to make it to the bus stop in time.

The song ended and Annabelle turned down the volume. She’d started listening to Journey during the Goliaths’ World Series run. So the song was five years older than she was, the message still rang true. It was about hope. Starting over. Believing.

The traffic light turned green, and she pulled into the intersection. A flash of yellow appeared out of the corner of her eye. She turned in time to see an SUV blow through the stoplight. Before she could react, the vehicle struck her Mercedes just behind the driver’s side door.

Her head slammed into the side window. Glass shattered and she looked down at the blood on her blouse. A thousand black pixels danced before her eyes.

And then nothing.

{ review } .

I do love my stories where men end up in the company of little children...

Cooper has made mistakes -- and an injury that doesn't heal properly and in time sends this baseball player to doing the one thing he swore he'd never do. After taking the illegal supplements, though, he was part of a random drug search and his career tanked.

Now, he's nursing his pride and refusing to find options. He wants to play ball and the only offer coming his way is attached to a salary he feels he deserves more than.

A few months ago, a new neighbor moved in -- Annabelle Jones, former swimsuit model. When she had her first cover, Cooper enlarged it (such a guy) and used it as motivation. Never did he imagine he'd get the chance to know her.

Granted, he likes to keep fantasy and reality separate so he never actually goes to meet the woman.

One afternoon after a run, the local school bus is sitting without kids coming off. When he gets there, though, out pops Annabelle's twin daughters, Sophie and Olivia, stating that he's an adult and their neighbor, so they'd be fine. Not quite sure what to do, Cooper accepts the girls and takes them home --

...and his world as he knew it would be forever changed.

Shortly after, he learns that the reason Annabelle wasn't at the stop to pick up her girls was that she was in an accident. Being the only adult that Annabelle knows, aside from her agent and the friends who live miles away, Cooper ends up being the one volunteered to help her and be sure her concussion isn't more serious than the doctors think.

Cooper stays 'Cooper' to the girls because the last thing he wants is for Annabelle to put two-and-two together (or four-and-four, or six-and-six): her almost-ex-husband, her best friend, her best friend's husband... all hold some part in his baseball career failing.

So he's Cooper, and not Nathan Cooper, ex-baseball star.

He is well aware that he had the world at his feet and one mistake cost him everything. But the more time he spends with Annabelle and the girls, the more he wants things to be right. One of his biggest fears is someday having a family and having to avoid the stares and negative comments about the choices he's made -- something that I felt showcased his humility. When such an event happens, Cooper does the better man thing and walks away -- and my respect for him grew.

I loved this story -- I loved the honesty that only children show; I loved the domestic side that Cooper shows, a side that I'm sure he didn't even realize he had; I loved that his first time to throw a ball was with Annabelle's daughters. This was a sweet story -- a story that didn't get as deep as I wanted it to, but still sweet nonetheless. This is a story that I would love for the author to come back to -- granted, perhaps we'll get to see more of this relationship with future books in the series.

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  1. Thank you for hosting MAKING A COMEBACK

  2. Thank you for hosting me and sharing Making A Comeback with your readers.