World Series of Romance Tripleheader: Hard Ball series by Abigail Barnette

Before we get started, let’s take a closer look at the covers, shall we?

Long Relief: Hardball, Book 1 by Abigail Barnette

Double Header: Hardball, Book 2 by Abigail Barnette

Just ignore the aluminum bat.

Triple Play: Hardball, Book 3 by Abigail Barnette

Drooling? Who, me? Shut up, I am a SERIOUS baseball fan, dammit.

  • Series: Hard Ball
  • Author:  Abigail Barnette (aka Jennifer Armintrout)
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Erotica, GLBTQ
  • Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, 2012
  • Source: ARe ($3.99 ebooks)
  • Trope(s): Athletes, Lust in the Workplace, Beta Heroes, Coming Out, Menage/Polyamory, MC/IR/AA
  • Quick blurb:  Interconnected novellas featuring the fictional Grand Rapids Bengals.
  • Quick review: Each story has its pros and cons, but likeable characters having good sexy times are always worth a read.
  • Grade(s): B- average (B+, C, B-)


Book 1: Long Relief

“She’s coming over,” Javier said, nudging Chris subtly with his elbow. “Put on your kiss-ass face.”

Even better, Chris would put on his “I-know-you-saw-me-naked” face.

Long Relief: Hardball, Book 1 by Abigail Barnette

The set-up:

When she inherits her father’s pro baseball team, successful tech entrepreneur Maggie Harper finds herself pursued by aging relief pitcher Chris Thomas, the object of her intense teenage crush.

The hits:

Smart, funny and vulnerable heroine; tough but noble beta hero; good romance-building; great on-the-field and in-the-clubhouse scenes; and hot sex.

The misses:

Hmm, I think only the rather abrupt ending – but Maggie and Chris’s story continues as a secondary thread in the following books.

The final score: B+


Book 2: Double Header

He picked up his bat and reminded himself that the butterflies in his stomach were uncharacteristic at-bat nerves, not anything to do with Zach. And men didn’t get butterflies, anyway. They got…bats. Or something else bad ass.

Double Header: Hardball, Book 2 by Abigail BarnetteThe set-up:

A trade to the Grand Rapids Bengals puts shortstop Zach Martin back on the field with Javier Vargas — the catcher who broke his heart a year earlier.

The hits:

Two — count ’em, TWO! — beta heroes; more great ballplayer interaction; and some swoon-worthy non-sex romance.

The misses:

Repetitive backstory; over-the-top unseen villain; and a lot of angst about “open” relationships that kept dragging down the relationship-rebuilding.

The final score: C


Book 3: Triple Play

Triple Play: Hardball, Book 3 by Abigail BarnetteThere were two naked ball players passed out in her living room.

WHY does that never happen to ME? *~*self-pity sigh*~*

The set-up:

Sports reporter Eva Colchado gets more than she bargained for when she loses a bet with two Bengals teammates — especially when the biggest story of her career comes at the worst possible time.

The hits:

Smart, funny heroine; two — count ’em, TWO — beta heroes; a fully believable work-related conflict; and some incredibly hot menage scenes.

The misses:

I can never suspend my disbelief enough to fully buy into a polyamory HEA, especially when two of the participants are hands-off each other.

Final score: B-

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