Early review: Sierra Dean’s PERFECT CATCH

Spring’s just around the corner, and you know what that means.

Baseball.

Men in tight pants…hot dogs and peanuts…men in tight pants…fresh white chalk lines and bright green grass…men in tight pants…

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Alice Darling’s lucky to be working as an umpire for the spring training games, and she knows it. She keeps her professional life and her private one separate with a simple rule: don’t date ball players. After a whirlwind relationship with a player ten years ago ended with her pregnant and the man in question refusing to publicly acknowledge he had a daughter, Alice has plenty of reasons to back up her rule. Then she meets San Francisco Felon’s catcher Alex Ross, and suddenly her rule isn’t so simple anymore.

For his part, Alex will do whatever Alice wants, as long as it means they’re together. Their relationship sputters along, but just when it’s starting to gain traction, evidence of the relationship they’re trying to keep private leaks into the blogosphere. Oops.

Alex is the big reason to read Sierra Dean’s Perfect Catch. I liked the grumbly, loveable, pudgy catcher in Pitch Perfect, and I loved him here. He’s sweet, cuddly, and yes, hot. He lost most of the pudge in the off season, and his uniform fits him quite nicely, thank you very much. More, he’ll do whatever it takes to make Alice happy – he’s not afraid of falling head over heels for someone, as long as it’s the right someone, and he’s old enough to know a good thing when he sees it. He treats her boundaries with respect, and waits patiently for her to push them herself, rather than doing it for her.

It is entirely possible that Alex Ross has earned a spot on my book boyfriend list.

Alice is a likeable woman. She’s got a lot on her plate, but she handles it with style to spare, and her reluctance to trust Alex’s overtures felt true – just as her acceptance of him did. She’s smart enough to see that not all ballplayers are like her ex, and once she stopped using that as her yardstick, she opened up to Alex.

I just wasn’t sure I bought the two of them together. While their characters felt full and fleshed out, their relationship didn’t. It was a little rushed, a little patchy, and while there was definite warmth and comfort, I didn’t feel a lot of heat.

The story itself felt a little rushed and patchy in places. It covers a span of a couple of months, and there are chunks of it where Alice and Alex are separated. Those chunks are where the connection between Alice and Alex falters, bringing the other parts of their lives into play, and the transitions weren’t as smooth as they could have been. But Dean works in the baseball jargon with ease, and she handles the seriousness of Alice’s situation – a female umpire working in a normally all-male profession – with the gravity it needs. There’s just something missing, and I can’t figure out what it is.

Like I said, though, Alex Ross is the big reason to read Perfect Catch. If you’re looking for a change from the overbearing alphahole hero…yeah. Alex is the perfect antidote.

Copy of  Perfect Catch provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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