Monday, May 16, 2016

review || THE CHANGE UP { release blast } by Elley Arden

Crimson Romance | May 16, 2016 | Contemporary Romance
Arlington Aces, book 1


Commercial real estate mogul Rachel Reed followed her workaholic father’s footsteps to success, so when he’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she vows to rise to the occasion. She’ll help her father get the Arlington Aces independent professional baseball team up and running, then sell the franchise off to recoup their investment. It’s a tall order, but Rachel knows one thing for sure: a few acres of trees aren’t going to stand in her way of building the facility they need.

Landscaper Sam Sutter is surprised to find his brother’s high school girlfriend lurking in the woods behind his secluded log house. This former minor leaguer’s even more upset to learn “his” trees are on her chopping block. There’s no way he’ll help her erect a painful reminder to his failed career in his backyard. But butting heads with the beautiful businesswoman proves to be a tricky task, and before long, he finds himself heading up the grounds keeping crew at her father’s stadium. 

Working under Rachel’s watchful—smoldering—eyes might be Sam’s undoing. Can he cut into her plans without felling their chances at a home run in love?

{ about author } .

Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.

Elley has been reading romance novels since she was a sixteen-year-old babysitter, sneaking Judith McNaught and Danielle Steele novels off the bookshelves of the women who employed her. To say she’d been sheltered up to that point is an understatement. No one had ever told her women could live bold, love freely, and have sex lives that were exciting and fulfilling. (They don’t teach these things in Catholic school!) Now that she knows, she’s happy to spread the word. The women she writes about may be fictional, but the success, respect, and love they find on the page is a universal right for women everywhere.

Elley writes books with charming characters, emotional stories, and sexy romance. Visit The Bookshelf for a detailed listing.

{ excerpt } .

He didn’t trust her, and that was even before she tilted her head and regarded him through narrowed eyes. “You of all people must be excited about my father bringing professional baseball to Arlington.”

Here we go. Sam shrugged. “I don’t really follow baseball these days.”

“That’s a shame. Sam used to play for the …” she looked from Wes back to Sam, “The Cubs, right?”

Sam nodded once and added, “Never made it out of the minors.” Why sugarcoat it? Chasing “the bigs” in a rusty bus, believing he was the next big thing, caused him to miss out on a lot of things. He was still trying to make up for some of that.

Again he thought of his mother, and this time the guilt was almost too much to swallow.

“What are you doing now?” Rachel asked, surprising him, not because he expected her to keep tabs on his career, but because she’d never been the kind to care much about other people—at least that had been his experience when she’d labeled him “whiny little Sammy” who was always trying to come between her and Luke.

“I’m working for my dad,” he said with little genuine interest in keeping this conversation going.

“Just like me.”

Except he wasn’t like her, and he couldn’t leave that assumption hanging between them. “We’re nothing alike, Rachel. For starters, I would never even think about cutting down these trees. That would be a really shitty thing to do.”

She shrugged. “What can I say, Sammy? Progress can be painful, but in the end, it’s the best thing for everyone.”

“Because the best thing for you is the best thing for everyone?” He scoffed. She hadn’t changed one bit in twenty years. “Try telling that to the birds.” Sam looked at the wide-eyed man taking this all in beside her, and nodded curtly. “Nice to meet you.”

But that was a lie. It would only be nice if the guy drove back to Pittsburgh without touching a single tree. If one trunk fell … Sam hated to even think about it. Thank God his nature-loving mother wasn’t alive to see this.

He wandered off with Babe beside him and the warbler overhead, craving the usual Sunday peace and quiet, but he kept hearing phantom chainsaws and wood chippers. How much parking did the Reeds need? Surely they wouldn’t cut down all of this. He reached out and let almond-shaped leaves tickle his palm. But what if they did? What if he had to say goodbye to Sunday walks and evening fireside chats with his dad? And what if he had to look out his kitchen window and see a baseball stadium every damn day. He stopped. Babe stopped, too.

That was not going to happen.

{ review } .

In this first book of the Arlington Aces series, we watch as the team starts it's initial year with a new owner. When Rachel's father bought the team a few years back, Rachel's opinion on the matter was... colorful. Now, after receiving rather devastating news (and then watching it unfold in front of her eyes), her father has assigned her to make the team pretty and ready to sell... Again.

Sam was a minor league baseball player who's been out of the game for some time. He's been living back home in the house near the new baseball field, just he and his dog, Babe. I rather liked Sam's simplistic way of living. He was an easy guy to read, an easy guy to follow, an easy guy to be a fan of.

Who I wasn't a fan of?


She was a forty-year-old woman who put work ahead of everything, and I do mean everything. She had materialistic views and was, in a word, "witchy" toward her parents. When she and her executive assistant (a very fun, chipper character, I would allow) drive up to her family's home, Rachel makes excuses for why the home looks so "blah" -- that it's so much more beautiful at Christmas time. The only time she'd visit her parents (she saw her father on the regular) was on Christmas, and if work called, work got her attention. Quite frankly, I didn't like her character.

On top of that, the first time Rachel and Sam re-meet, she treats him like a child.

Rachel and Sam's history wasn't so much together as it was Rachel and his brother. Rachel is four years Sam's senior, but regardless of their ages now or then, Rachel's talking down to him and like he was a child simply wasn't a great characteristic of hers. If they'd been ten years apart, ok, sure, maybe calling him "Little Sammy" and dismissing him like an annoying pup could fly, but they weren't, and it didn't.

On that front, it was difficult for me to read Rachel's mindset. Wanting to watch her open her world a bit, though, was the thing that kept me reading (for her, anyway). Sam's character, again, was a great one and I enjoyed watching him go through the motions of retired minor league baseball player, to allowing himself to consider the sport again.

Altogether, a really good book with an interesting plot line. Aside from some disconnect in the beginning (more than the disconnect with Rachel), I found the author's ability to write Mr. Reed and his battles to be done extremely well, and enjoyed how the story began to unfold.

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