the bad boy bargain, so i was thrilled to hear that there would be a second book set in this same world. we got to catch up with kyle and faith, who are still going strong but we get to know some pretty amazing new characters in tristan and alyssa.
i hope there is a third, a fourth, a fifth--honestly, however many stories highley has set for the suttonville sentinels i promise to read them. swinging at love brings tristan murrell, center fielder and clean-up batter for the sentinels, into focus. the sentinels have reached the state championships and just when tristan needs to hit every baseball thrown his way, he's hit a slump instead.
alyssa kaplan has all sorts of problems. she's training for a ballet camp that she's not sure she can afford to go to given that her father's business is on the verge of closing. her father owns the swing away batting cages, but a new sports complex has opened and is decimating their business while the state inspector has demanded they invest in upgrading their facilities in order to remain open. the swing away is alyssa's home away from home, even if she gave up on her softball career for ballet it doesn't mean that she doesn't love the game.
so when tristan shows up at the swing away to try to work out his batting problems he doesn't expect to encounter anyone from high school. in fact, he was counting on not encountering anyone from high school. except alyssa can see that there is something wrong with his swing, and her softball experience and years of watching others swing make her the perfect person to diagnose his problem. it's not his balance. it's not his mechanics. tristan can't stop thinking. he needs to get out of his head and let his body do its thing. so alyssa kisses him. partly to get his mind off everything going wrong from him in that moment. but also because he's cute and funny and she couldn't resist surprising him.
it's a good kiss. when he tries to swing again, he connects with the ball. at first, he thinks it's a fluke, but when he finds himself spending more time at the swing away in order to be closer to her and finding that his batting is working, he knows that being around alyssa is the key to sorting out his problems. alyssa loves being with him too. he takes her mind off her family problems, never minimizing them or dismissing them, just by listening and being supportive.
i think one of my favorite things about tristan and alyssa's relationship is that there is never any doubt that they are absolutely crazy about each other. they connect so beautifully in ways that are just so sweet and swoonworthy. it was such a delight to read. that isn't to say that the course of their love runs smooth, they realize too late that their best friends have fallen for them in a sort of crush mix-up, which would be fine except the state baseball playoffs and ballet camp auditions are coming up and they don't want to spook their friends. they try to keep their relationship on the down-low, but neither of them enjoys sneaking around and they hate lying to their friends. it all blows up anyway and for a while, they try to stay apart but that makes no one feel better. there's a misunderstanding caused by one of tristan's teammates that hits the heart of alyssa's insecurities, but tristan is eventually able to smooth it over.
throughout the all those tough moments, you see how much happier, stronger, better together, than they are apart. and it's just a delight to read. i felt happier, stronger, better after reading. there's something so uplifting about young adult romance--i think it's that there is so much room for possibility.
**swinging at love publishes on march 13, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.