Books to the Sky

expert expectations

Posted on: September 8, 2009

I recently read Double Play by Jill Shalvis, which is a baseball romance.

I picked it up because I love baseball. The plot wasn’t even relevant when I first saw the title; I saw “baseball” and “romance” and clicked “buy.” It turned out to be a sweet little romance, on the fluffy side, but good for a long train ride, which is where I read it. The hero is Pace Martin, the superstar pitcher of the fictional Santa Barbara Heat. He’s, like, the Johan Santana or Joba Chamberlin of this season, with less injuries or more starts, depending on who you follow. Basically, he’s got the winningest record in the league, but he’s also got a shoulder injury that could end his career. The heroine, Holly, is a reporter sent to follow the Heat around and suss out secrets. She stumbles onto a steroids plot, which I had some mixed feelings about, but I’ll talk about that more below.

The problem here is that the book wasn’t really reflective of baseball as I think of it. Baseball fans are always quoting statistics at each other, for instance. And there wasn’t a whole lot of baseball lingo here, either. Not to mention that this team is basically all white, which struck me as not realistic.

But as I yearned for the writer to talk more about Pace’s ERA, it occurred to me that I am not the target audience for this book, that, in fact, a lot of the women who read this book probably have a limited (if any) knowledge of baseball. So all the stuff the fans get excited about—the stats, the numbers, the batting order, the game minutiae—would probably only render the narrative confusing for the non-baseball-fan reader.

And then there’s this steroids plot. It’s a predictable way to go in a baseball story, although (spoiler) our hero is, of course, not doping, but he tests positive because he takes a stimulant by accident. Ugh.

Maybe the lesson here is not to read romances about topics I know a lot about; I’ll inevitably be disappointed. Does this mean I should go read some of those NASCAR romances? I know nothing about NASCAR.

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Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
--Arnold Lobel

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
--Groucho Marx

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