Monday, June 17, 2024

Isn't It Romantic?

The Art of Catching Feelings
 by Alicia Thompson
Published by Berkley on June 18, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A professional baseball player and his heckler prove that true love is worth going to bat for.

Daphne Brink doesn’t follow baseball, but watching “America’s Snoozefest” certainly beats sitting at home in the days after she signs her divorce papers. After one too many ballpark beers, she heckles Carolina Battery player Chris Kepler, who quickly proves there might actually be a little crying in baseball. Horrified, Daphne reaches out to Chris on social media to apologize . . . but forgets to identify herself as his heckler in her message.

Chris doesn’t usually respond to random fans on social media, but he’s grieving and fragile after an emotionally turbulent few months. When a DM from “Duckie” catches his eye, he impulsively messages back. Duckie is sweet, funny, and seems to understand him in a way no one else does.

Daphne isn’t sure how much longer she can keep lying to Chris, especially as she starts working with the team in real life and their feelings for each other deepen. When he finds out the truth, will it be three strikes, she’s out?

Imagine this - you heckle a major league baseball player and move him to tears. Then, you develop an anonymous friendship via DMs, and finally, you have to work with him in real life without revealing your online alter ego. Yep, Daphne definitely was spinning a web here, and she could only hope to untangle it when she catches feelings for Chris.

It's not a secret that I adore Thompson's books and this was another great one. From the rather amusing meet-cute to the meaningful discussions they shared, I loved how Chris and Daphne interacted and how their bond grew. Yes, poor Chris was left in the dark that Duckie and Daphne were the same person, and I know so many people hate deception and miscommunication, but Thompson made it work. She was able to help me understand why Daphne made these choices, and though I grew frustrated at times, I was able to forgive Daphne as I rooted for this union.

Both Daphne and Chris had some demons to slay. Daphne was finally free of a rather toxic relationship. She was a bit gun shy given that she had bought into the fantasy and not the reality of her past relationship. This made her doubt herself and her feelings for Chris.

Chris was still reeling from his bother's death by suicide. He was brought up burying his emotions and it was taking a toll on him and his game. It was very touching the way he opened up to Duckie and eventually, Daphne. And they were there for each other and provided support as each worked through their issues.

Funny, sweet, sexy - this book had it all. I loved the romance, the drama, and the baseball, and was impressed with how Thompson blended it all together. Overall, this was another home run from Thompson.

Right Where We Left Us
 by Jen Devon
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 18, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Temperance Jean Madigan and Duncan Brady have never gotten it right. After one radiant, secret summer together when they were eighteen, they’ve been on-again off-again ever since. Now, despite red-hot chemistry and TJ’s closeness with Duncan’s family, they’re virtually strangers, only capable of adversarial banter, awkward small talk―and the occasional messy hookup.

When a wedding at the Brady’s vineyard lands TJ there for the summer, their mutual avoidance strategies prove impossible. The last thing TJ wants is to be under those angsty, heated glances Duncan thinks he hides. And for Duncan, having fiery TJ constantly close is the ultimate distraction that he absolutely can’t afford. When forced proximity begins to chip away at their armor, buried tensions resurface, old wounds urge confrontation, and once-in-a-lifetime love demands one last chance to finally get it right.

Temperance and Duncan's lives have been intertwined for more than half their existence. Though their love had never waned, they continued to dance around each other following their breakup over a decade ago. Could the timing be right to resuscitate their big love and pick up right where they left off?

Bend Towards the Sun was such a phenomenal experience for me that I did not hesitate to add this book to the TBR. In fact, I pretty much just looked at the cover, saw Jen Devon wrote it, and called the book one of my most anticipated reads for 2024. Little did I know that this was actually a companion to Bend Towards the Sun. I mean, I was so excited I did a happy dance.

It was such a thrill to be back at the vineyard with the Brady family and their adjacent people. I got to see the progress they made, spend quality time with the family, and most importantly, attend a wedding. I always cry at weddings, so needless to say, there were tears, but there was also a beautiful second chance romance contained within these pages.

Duncan and Temperance had fallen hard for each other in their teens. Devon took us back to those pivotal summers where we got to see them meet, fall in love, and break each others hearts. They may not have been a couple, but due to their siblings being married, they were still in each others orbits. It made me so happy that they were able to rekindle their love. Both had grown so much, and now, I just wanted them to grow together.

The one thing I adore about Devon's books is the family focus. The Bradys were a very special bunch and the love flows freely between them. They were also a bunch of meddlers in this book who were doing everything they could to get Temperance and Duncan together, and I was one hundred percent in support of their meddling. 

It was exciting to catch up with old friends while getting to know some of them on a deeper level. I suspect there will be a return to the vineyard given the way Mal and Frankie were incorporated into the story. Obviously, I am excited at the prospect and cannot wait to spend more time with the Bradys.


Favorite baseball stadium food?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Do you think it's best to read Bend Towards the Sun before picking up Right Where We Left Us? Or is that not needed?

    1. I think reading Bend Towards the Sun first makes the story better. It eases you into the family and I think you would enjoy events that happen even more with the background. It was a great book, so I would push it anyhow

  2. I've been highly anticipating both of these books so I'm really happy to see you enjoyed them so much. I think I'm more excited for Devon's book because all the teases for this couple in the first book and I can't wait to learn more about their history. Great reviews, Sam!

    1. These authors always delight me. I am surprised Devon's book wasn't marketed as a companion because it totally is. If you loved being with the Brady's before, you will adore them even more here.

  3. You definitely have me sold on The Art of Catching Feelings!