Title: Home Run
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Series: Boys of Summer #2
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Cooper Bailey finally has a shot at being a major league ballplayer, but it will take all his focus and energy during spring training to make it happen. Complicating things is his instantaneous connection with Ainsley Burke. He can’t get enough of her, and before he knows it, they’re spending every night together. But as happy as he is off the field, his focus on it is suffering, and he isn’t willing to risk his lifelong dream over a girl.
But without Ainsley, Cooper’s miserable, and his game is still off. No matter what he tries, he can’t get her out of his head, and he’s starting to realize that maybe he doesn’t want to. Baseball is just a game, but Ainsley might be the real thing. Now he just has to convince her of that.
Heidi McLaughlin returns readers to the world of the Boston Renegades with Cooper and Ainsley’s story in Home Run. With the Renegades in Florida for Spring Training when they meet, Cooper and Ainsley’s journey begins with a feeling of impermanence that heightened everything. Their chemistry sizzled louder and their emotions ran hotter making Home Run one heck of a scorching read. I loved the push and pull between the main characters and the resultant flirtatious banter that kept me grinning. Despite their hesitance to start something, Cooper and Ainsley shared an obvious deeper connection that got me hooked and I adored watching these two unravel one another so completely over the course of the story.
“I have a feeling Ainsley Burke is going to be my doom. That is if I don’t destroy myself first.”
Ainsley was the kind of heroine who is impossible not to love. She was loyal, hardworking and incredibly self-sacrificing. Her relationship with her mother and the devotion she showed towards her care made my heart ache. In fact, it was this secondary storyline that probably stole the show for me as I found myself completely wrapped up in the emotional impact of her mother’s illness and the moments they were able to steal with one another. Even when Ainsley was being annoyingly indecisive about her feelings towards Cooper, I couldn’t help but feel for her and understand the struggle she faced. Heidi McLaughlin did a great job cultivating Ainsley’s insecurities and fears, allowing the reader to connect with her internal battle and fully appreciate the emotional position Ainsley’s mother put her in.
“Cooper chose me, and it feels really nice to be chased.”
Cooper, on the other hand, was harder to connect with for me. I never got a real read on his character and, between his diligent pursuit of Ainsley and his sometimes selfish attitude towards his role with the Renegades, I found myself at a loss as to how I was supposed to feel about him. While I most certainly liked Cooper by the end of the novel, his personality wasn’t terribly distinctive and I never felt like I knew what kind of man he really was. I think Cooper’s character would have benefited from further exploration of his past, his time in the minor leagues and his relationship with his father in order to give him the kind of depth I needed to really understand where he was coming from and allow myself to completely fall for him. To be fair, Cooper definitely had his swoon-worthy moments and I enjoyed exploring this character, especially at the end of the novel when he really started to come into his own.
“You’re a goner. He showed you the goods, and now you’re a cleat-chaser.”
This book had a few issues that kept me from losing myself completely in the story. There were a lot of huge moments that were quickly glossed over and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit cheated – the jumps in time and focus on less substantial events keeping me somewhat emotionally disconnected from the overall storyline. I also wanted more resolution in regards to the situation with Cooper’s father instead of the looming threat and slightly uncertain feeling we were left with. That’s not to say that this book was entirely enjoyable. Home Run had a decidedly different vibe than the first book in the series; however, Heidi McLaughlin manages to recreate that same feeling of camaraderie that made Third Base so special. I loved seeing more of Ethan and Daisy, as well as getting to know Ainsley’s best friend Stella and Cooper’s teammate Travis. The secondary characters brought tons of humor and heart to the story, giving Ainsley and Cooper’s journey some much needed laughter and levity. Home Run is a fun, sweet read and sports romance fans will enjoy getting to know Heidi McLaughlin’s newest Baseball player BBF!
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Don’t miss the rest of the Boys of Summer series:
Third Base (Boys of Summer #1)
Grand Slam (Boys of Summer #3)