FicCentral received a free copy of this book from St Martin's Press (via NetGalley).
Series: New York Saints #1
Publisher: St Martin's Press on August 26, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
Life just threw her a curve ball.
As the team-owner’s daughter, Maggie Jameson grew up in the New York Saints’ stadium—glove, cap, hot dogs, and all. Baseball’s in her blood, and she’s always dreamed of the day when she would lead the Saints to victory herself. That was before her dad had to sell the team to Alex Winters. The fast-talking, fiercely attractive businessman has a baseball pedigree that’s distinctly minor league. Maggie wants to hate him but his skills of seduction, however, are off the charts.
Will love be a home run?
Alex could never have imagined how much this team means to Maggie. He needs her to help show the players that they’re still a family…even if he and Maggie are at the verge of exchanging blows. But her fiery determination and gorgeous looks prove irresistible to Alex. And much as he wants to relegate their relationship to the playing field—and get the Saints back in the game—Alex just can’t help himself: What he wants to win most is Maggie’s heart…
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Major League Baseball is in Maggie’s blood, from her childhood requests to hold her birthday parties on the diamond to her college pursuit of the degree that would allow her to take the helm with her dad and run the team he owns. But all that’s swept out from under her when the team is offered up for sale, and to make matters worse, the new owners are determined to use her popularity with the city and the fans to win the public’s approval. Like she’d willingly side with the devil who’s buying away her birthright. Like it matters that he’s the hottest man she’s ever laid eyes on…
Honestly? The cover is what made me take a second look, though I can’t say I would have guessed it was a sports romance. But among all the other smiling, laughing, brooding, kissing couples on covers, this one just stood out. And it’s not exactly a bad view, either, is it?
The Devil in Denim has all the big standards for a contemporary romance. First, there’s Alex, the incredibly hot, very rich businessman who oozes confidence and goes after what he wants. Then there’s Maggie, the beautiful former tomboy who lives and breathes baseball while holding an impressive business degree. And then there’s the initial conflict, the fact that Alex just bought the team Maggie should have been running and eventually inherited. They’re both smart, stubborn, and insanely attracted to each other, not to mention completely at odds, so it’s only a matter of time…
But I was initially a little torn when it came to my feelings for the characters. Maggie was pretty awesome, a sports fanatic who didn’t eschew all things feminine, a woman who could bat better than most men, and the good girl that the fans dubbed “Saint Maggie.” But for all her strength, she seemed so easily manipulated by Alex, first in pasting on a smile for the press conference, then in attending the team party, and then under the mistletoe. And that’s kind of where I decided that Alex was a jackass. I couldn’t blame him for trying to finagle a kiss under the mistletoe, but when Maggie repeatedly resisted and he just was so irritatingly insistent, I really wanted her to whip out the rape whistle, mace him, and file a police report. I imagine the intent was for Alex to be persuasive and Maggie to simply be overwhelmed by his looks and charm and bucket of perfection, but instead it read like a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen. Oh, and after all that? Maggie actually thought to herself at one point that Alex was a man who understands that no means no. Ummmm…huh? She’d met him, right? And she wasn’t on drugs? ‘Cause I don’t get it. And then, despite all she professed to the contrary, he talked her into “taking it slow.” Which apparently meant getting completely naked. At that point, I honestly thought about finding something else to read.
Fortunately, though, things picked up nicely from there. Once Alex was finished being all irritatingly pushy, and Maggie decided it was worth a shot, their easy banter got me interested again. And it wasn’t that silly, one-liner stuff I usually find. You know how in most books, the characters who bring on the funny simply spout out a witty comeback, something perfectly placed but not necessarily reminiscent of how conversations play out in real life? Not so here. Maggie and Alex had real conversations and back-and-forth dialogue that just got funnier as it went, the kind that you can imagine happening with two people who are truly enjoying each other’s company. It was a nice change, certainly, but it was also written better and more realistically than I usually find in romances. Of course, it also didn’t hurt that Alex simply turned out to be a really good guy, albeit a bit too sure of himself, and when they turned up the heat… hot damn!
There was a second conflict, too, the one that made them question their relationship and put them at odds (as one should always expect in romance novels), and it really surprised me. I expected the main issue to be simply that Maggie’s heart and mind (and body) were at war, and yes, that happened at first. But then there was something else cleverly tossed in, something that could have played to cliches but was instead written in a way that was much more interesting. Not only was I not expecting it, but it meshed seamlessly into the story and really had me wondering just how things were going to turn out.
All in all, even with my initial frustration with the characters, I really enjoyed the The Devil in Denim. It’s not an angsty read, and it has all the hallmarks of a typical contemporary romance, so it will certainly appeal to a lot of romance novel aficionados. But it also had that extra quality in writing style and plot development that sets it a bit apart and was strong enough to pull me back in when I was having my doubts, and I think that says something great about the talent behind it. And now? I can’t wait to see what Angel in Armani is going to deliver. Any chance it’s December yet?