Title: The Change Up
Author: Elley Arden
Series: Arlington Aces #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: May 16th
Commercial real estate mogul Rachel Reed followed her workaholic father’s footsteps to success, so when he’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she vows to rise to the occasion. She’ll help her father get the Arlington Aces independent professional baseball team up and running, then sell the franchise off to recoup their investment. It’s a tall order, but Rachel knows one thing for sure: a few acres of trees aren’t going to stand in her way of building the facility they need.
Landscaper Sam Sutter is surprised to find his brother’s high school girlfriend lurking in the woods behind his secluded log house. This former minor leaguer’s even more upset to learn “his” trees are on her chopping block. There’s no way he’ll help her erect a painful reminder to his failed career in his backyard. But butting heads with the beautiful businesswoman proves to be a tricky task, and before long, he finds himself heading up the grounds keeping crew at her father’s stadium.
Working under Rachel’s watchful—smoldering—eyes might be Sam’s undoing. Can he cut into her plans without felling their chances at a home run in love?
Source: ARC from Crimson Romance via NetGalley
This romance between two people trying to prove themselves to their parents is surprisingly emotional at times, given how the heroine, Rachel, is accused of having no heart on more than one occasion. She’s a powerful woman, one who has worked hard her entire life to prove to her father that he didn’t need to have a son, because he’s got her. She’s smart, successful and driven, which doesn’t always make her the most sympathetic of characters, until you realise how much she cares beneath her hard front.
And she does care, which is why I felt so badly for her with the way her family sometimes treat her. Yes, she’s all about the business, but that’s the role they’ve put her in and when it comes to selling the team, it might have been nice if her sister had maybe tried to see Rachel’s side of things a little. Her father’s Alzheimer’s is a real shock to Rachel, since she’s idolised him for so long, and I really appreciated how the story dealt with this issue and how it affected all of the family.
Then there’s Sam, who is likewise heavily affected by how he tries to prove himself to his mother. Except his mother is dead and he had a lot of guilt and remorse about his failure to see her before she died. It’s a driving force in his life, and also provides some common ground between him and Rachel. As does baseball, which Sam has been avoiding for so long, but still loves, if only he will let himself acknowledge that.
I actually really liked both characters, but I have to admit after the slow build-up to their relationship, it might have been nice to have had more scenes of the two of them together. There is chemistry there, but the potential age difference issues and being his brother’s ex didn’t really raise their heads as much as I expected. While it’s true this book already has plenty of other emotional issues going on, I found their relationship to be a little too easy once it gets going and the conflict a touch overdone.
Still, on the whole, this is an enjoyable read with a nice sporting feel, lots of family issues and some likeable characters. The heroine is strong without being overbearing, the hero is likewise, they make a good team and there’s a nice bit of heat between them. It’s a good start to this series and I’d definitely like to find out what happens next.
The Change Up is out May 16th!
Visit Elley Arden for more details.