Double Play by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Double Play is more, how do I put this, serious-ish than Kate Angell's Richmond Rogues books. Angell's books have a more light-hearted tone than Shalvis's books.
Double Play focuses on two of the more potentially negative aspects of baseball: the relationship between the players and the media, and the usage of performance-enhancing drugs. The heroine, Holly, is a reporter/blogger doing a feature on the hero's team. The hero, Pace, basically wants nothing to do with her. *gasp* Conflict!
Angell does a better job of incorporating baseball scenes, but Shalvis demonstrates that the media can be a double-edged sword for the media. I liked the fact that Holly made friends with the players, but she wasn't about to compromise her ideals. I would've liked a bit more emphasis on her isolation so that when she finally decides to set down roots, it had more impact.
Pace doesn't want to talk to Holly and feels the need to hide pieces of himself from her, but, by extension, he is also hiding them from the reader. As a result, we don't get to know him as well. Shalvis touches on his relationship with Tucker and Redd, but Pace's strongest and clearest relationship in the book is with Wade.
< spoiler >I wanted to see how Tucker and Redd were woven into the fabric of Pace's life to heighten the tension of the eventual revelation that Tucker and Redd were supplying the players with the drugs. Tucker was indirectly responsible for the black mark on Pace's record and I wanted the sense of betrayal to be dripping off the page. < /spoiler >
I'd classify Double Play as a bit better than Angell's books, just because it focuses on one couple and has more of a linear story. However, it's worth noting that, despite their common baseball theme, Angell and Shalvis are very different authors.