Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/07/15/review-the-winning-season-by-alison-packard/
When I read Packard’s debut novel last year, I was hooked. I adored it. When I saw this baseball book, I didn’t even read the blurb before requesting it (I am a sport romance junkie)!! The fact that this book tied back into Love in the Afternoon made it even better.
Kelly has her dream job working publicity for the Blaze baseball team. Only her biggest nightmare has been traded onto her team, and she finds herself having to work day in and day out with the one man who drives her absolutely crazy. But in between insults, Kelly gets to know Matt and finds out that there is something more to the man than just a total screw-up.
Matt went through one of the most traumatic things someone could suffer, and he let his career and life spiral out of control because of it. But when he gets traded to the Blaze, he realizes he needs to get his shit together. Being thrown into the path of Kelly time and again opens his eyes to so many things, and Matt realizes that the woman he once hurled insults at, is one he doesn’t want to live without.
I absolutely adored this book, it was so fun and sexy and everything I love about romance. The romance was great, with Kelly and Matt starting the book as enemies who absolutely hated each other, but had such an intense sexual attraction between them. I loved watching them burn up for one another, all while trying to like each other, and eventually fall in love.
I adored Kelly, especially once we got to learn more about her past struggles. Growing up the polar opposite of her sister led to some horrific experiences in high school and college, and I thought Packard did an amazing job showcasing the destructive ways that self image can impact young women. Some issues can be really hard to read about, and eating disorders are ones that can go either horribly wrong, or have a strong impact. I thought Packard did an incredible job, and the story benefited from that subplot beautifully.
Poor Matt was kinda a dick and yet as his story unfolded, I wanted to cry for the guy. He had to deal with some pretty crazy changes in his life in a short period of time, so the fact that he went off his rocker was understandable. I loved the way he had to struggle to rebuild his reputation and life, especially as he leaned on Kelly to do so. He was a genuinely great guy, and I adored reading him. I hope we get to see more of him and Kelly both in future books.
My one gripe with this book is that it seemed to end rather abruptly. Matt and Kelly finally were able to resolve their big fight, and the book seemed to end right at that point. I would have like to see a little bit more after, since there were still a few things I would have liked to see be wrapped up. I hate when books leave me hanging like that, because I feel like I’m missing something important in the story still, so I’m going to be anxiously waiting for the next book in Packard’s series.
Via Twitter, Packard told me the next hero and heroine will be JT and Angie, two secondary characters from this book I adored. I hope that the baseball theme continues in her books, because I thought it was a wonderful balance of sports and fame and romance.
All in all I loved this sophomore book from Packard. She has quickly made her way to my auto-buy list for contemporary romance authors. I loved both Matt and Kelly as well as all the other characters we got to meet in this book. I’m anxious to see what Packard has in store for me next!
I give The Winning Season an A-