Title: Slow Heat
Author: Jill Shalvis
Published: February 2010 (Berkley)
Format: Physical Book
Summary: After a woman claims she's pregnant with Wade O'Riley's love child, Major League Baseball's most celebrated catcher and ladies' man is slapped on the wrist by management and ordered to improve his image. His enforcer is the team's publicist, the tough and sexy Samantha McNead. When Wade needs a date for a celebrity wedding, Sam steps up to the plate as his "girlfriend". But given her secret crush on him and that one awkward night a year ago in a stalled elevator with too much Scotch, the whole thing is an exercise in sexual tension. Wade is thrilled when the pretense turns into an unexpected night of hot passion. But the next day Sam is back to her cool self. As a catcher, Wade's used to giving the signals, not struggling to read them. Now, to win the love of his "pretend" girlfriend, he needs a home run--even if it involves stealing a few bases...
My Review: I am and always will be a football girl at heart. I find watching baseball games on television boring, but I do love the fun and atmosphere of actually attending a game. In Slow Heat, Shalvis was able to capture that magic and hold it through the entire book. I was enthralled by the world of professional baseball, the team, and everything that happened behind the scenes. Everything that's never really shown in real life to those of us not involved in it.
I loved this book! The chemistry between Wade and Sam was absolutely SPECTACULAR. It was practically tangible. Yet, there was so much more than just chemistry there. There was a romance that was beautiful enough to melt your heart. Wade and Sam had one night of steamy, slightly drunken history, and that was it. When it came to interaction, they were still anything but close.
❝But it was lust. Nothing more. Because Wade didn’t do more. And she didn’t do less.❞
This quote just took my breath away. It was, essentially, the reason they couldn't be together, in Sam's mind, for the majority of the book. He was a playboy, and she wanted commitment. Therefore, she didn't even see the point in trying. The way it was stated, so stark and straightforward, almost made me cry. A brilliantly composed quote, truly. Watching the two of them interact and get to know each other for real, even through false pretenses, was so touching. I was rooting for them the entire time, and when the eventual HEA came about, I heaved a sigh of deep, contented bliss.
Oh, and Shalvis began each of the chapters with quotes again. I love how she does that! I don't even want to know how much time goes into that process. I know how difficult it can be to select the perfect quote for things. I used to use quotes for the titles of the entries in my old personal blog, and I was pretty picky about it a lot of the time. You can tell that she carefully selects them. The quotes have to be relevant to the main topic - baseball, in this case - and they have to somehow allude to the events in the upcoming chapter. BUT they can't be SO spoilery as to give anything away. Finding the quote with that perfect balance for each chapter has got to take a killer amount of work, but as a quote enthusiast, I appreciate it so much. I think it adds a lot to the book.
One negative: There were quite a few comma splices in the book, apparently. I don't remember this, so it didn't make a particularly lasting impression. But it was in my notes, so I figured I would at least mention it.
I also have in my notes that this book has a great example of the fact that realism in love scenes doesn't need to be a mood killer. In fact, this really applies to all Shalvis books. I've read articles where people harp on romance novels for romanticizing sex by not being realistic about it (STDs, condoms, whatnot). While I have read books where this is the case (mostly historicals and less recent contemporaries), this does not apply to Shalvis one bit. She's always upfront about these things, like many contemporary authors, and she manages to not tear you out of the book!world with the awkwardness. It's a delicate balance, I think, and Shalvis accomplishes the balance of realism and romanticism wonderfully.
One interesting fact about Slow Heat was that it was one of those rare books where I had a clear visual in my head for both main characters. Not even just one, but both! Specifically, Wade (Wilson Bethel) from Hart of Dixie and Sam (Poppy Montgomery) from Without a Trace (which I haven't seen in years). Random, I know, but there you have it.
Overall, Slow Heat was a delightful read! If you love sports romances, I would absolutely recommend it to you. If you don't know if you like sports romances, I would recommend it to you, too! I could totally see handing this book to someone to show them the awesomeness that is good sports romance.
❝Unfortunately for her more womanly parts, all she’d tackled lately was the job.❞
❝Wade smiled. It was his professional smile, the one that could melt a woman’s panties at fifty paces and make men wish that they had half his athletic prowess, and it was a charmer. She knew its potency, braced herself for it, and still felt her panties melt.❞
❝I need a steak. Or a plate of burgers. Hell, I don’t care what it is as long as it’s red meat and no longer mooing. ❞
❝French fries and sunsets were God’s gift, he decided.❞
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