A Swoon-Worthy Pitch (and Home Run)

5 out of 5 stars

As someone who has delighted in Jennifer Dugan’s exploration of young adult themes in “Some Girls Do” and the playful adult romantic comedy “Love at First Set,” I stepped up to Playing for Keeps with high expectations—and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This latest offering is a heartwarming tale of two young women, a baseball pitcher and a student umpire, whose paths cross in the most conflicting yet charming ways.

From the moment I pressed play, I was hooked. The narrative, expertly delivered by narrators Daisy Guevara and Bailey Carr, captured the perfect blend of youthful zeal and serious undertones. Both narrators have a knack for bringing Dugan’s characters to life, with a warmth that feels like you’re listening to old friends recount their lives. I particularly enjoyed the heartfelt portrayal of June and Ivy, whose dreams and ambitions resonate deeply with me both in women I personally know and the other glass ceiling shatterers out there.

The story itself is both light-hearted and profound, exploring themes of love, ambition, and personal growth. The banter between June and Ivy is filled with the kind of witty repartee that makes you laugh out loud, yet their struggles with family expectations and personal dreams add a layer of depth to their journey. The intersection of their careers in sports—a field where women continue to break barriers—is portrayed with honesty and admiration, reflecting Dugan’s commitment to telling stories that resonate with authenticity and empowerment.

Moreover, the romance that blossoms between June and Ivy is delightfully complex. It’s not just about the forbidden allure of a player-umpire relationship; it’s about how two people with seemingly incompatible roles on the baseball field can find harmony and understanding off it. The development of their relationship is paced perfectly, capturing the essence of a slow-burn romance that’s worth every minute of the wait.

Playing for Keeps is a home run in the world of YA sapphic romance. It balances the light-heartedness of young love with the weightier themes of personal identity and professional ambition. Jennifer Dugan continues to impress with her ability to weave captivating narratives that are as entertaining as they are meaningful.

In essence, this audiobook is a testament to the power of love and dreams. It serves as a reminder that sometimes, playing for keeps means more than just winning a game—it’s about understanding and embracing who we are and whom we love. Dugan has done it again, delivering a story that not only entertains but inspires. I’m already looking forward to her next pitch!

Book Description:

From the author of Some Girls Do comes another heartfelt YA sapphic romance—starring a baseball pitcher and a student umpire who are definitely not supposed to fall for one another.

“Sapphic sports romance perfection. Swoony and romantic, but unafraid to tackle grief, family expectations, and fighting for your dreams, this is a home run of a book.”—Rachael Lippincott, coauthor of the #1 New York Times Bestsellers Five Feet Apart and She Gets the Girl

June is the star pitcher of her elite club baseball team—with an ego to match—and she’s a shoo-in to be recruited at the college level, like her parents have always envisioned. That is, if she can play through an overuse injury that has recently gone from bad to worse.

Ivy isn’t just reffing to pay off her athletic fees or make some extra cash on the side. She wants to someday officiate at the professional level, even if her parents would rather she go to college instead.

The first time they cross paths, Ivy throws June out of a game for grandstanding. Still, they quickly grow from enemies to begrudging friends . . . and then something more. But the rules state that players and umpires are prohibited from dating.

As June’s shoulder worsens, and a rival discovers the girls’ secret and threatens to expose them, everything the two have worked so hard for is at risk. Now both must choose: follow their dreams . . . or follow their hearts?

Playing For Keeps by Jennifer Dugan
Narrator: Daisy Guevara, Bailey Carr
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
Published by Listening Library on April 30th 2024
Genres: YA, Coming of Age, Sports Romance, LesFic/Sapphic Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Buy from Audible
Also by this author: Some Girls Do, Love at First Set

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