by Stef Ann Holm, historical (2000)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-01942-2

I can count on Stef Ann Holm for great comedy that have me laughing out loud. I can also count on Ms Holm to make her male characters so mule-headed that they give me a headache. Tom from Harmony gave me a headache when he acts like an insensitive jerk, I refuse to read Hooked because of the back blurb promising a Big Misunderstanding fallout that can put Chernobyl to shame, and Alex Cordova of Honey gives me a headache too. But when he does pull up his socks, the headache's worth it. Laughter, grand fun, and love amidst the baseball matches of early 20th century Montana - what else can one ask for?

Probably less self-pity songs from our hero and some nice I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar tunes from the heroine, but hey, that's just me. Picky, picky, picky.

Camille Kennison is the most beautiful woman in Harmony and she's also the pickiest. She's holding out for passion, the breathless heartpounding sort. She's also trying to prove herself to her father and the Gardening Club ladies that she's more than a pretty face. Hence when her father, manager of probably the worst baseball team turned pro this side of the world, vents his exasperation at his inability to charm Alex Cardova, former baseball hero, into the team, Camille decides she's the woman to reel Alex in like a man.

Alex has a Bad Experience in baseball, so Bad that he hangs up his jockstrap for an odd-jobber's bloomers, but he needs money to place his loony buddy Captain into the best asylum money can buy. When Camille comes in waving a generous amount of money, he has to swallow his pride and accept the job.

Trouble is, Camille's father has offered to make whoever that can reel Alex in the new manager of Harmony Keystones, home of the worst, short-sighted baseball players whose timing are way-off and they wear holey underwear too.

Camille now has to deal with players in and off the team who don't actually cozy up to the idea of having a woman amidst their ranks. Plus she has to tackle the big bear that is Alex. Is out heroine up for the job?

No. Poor Camille. She is feitsy and spunky, but when situation demands that she stands up for herself, alas, she can't. She clams up, and it is Alex or some other guy who has to stand up for her. Maybe it's me, but I don't find these sort of Human Ivy behavior romantic. Hey, I think Stand By Your Man is a great song, but the words hogwash. Camille needs a backbone, in my estimation, but that's okay - she doesn't make the story unpleasant.

It is Alex who almost have me throwing the book into the floor and me dancing a cha-cha can-can dance on it. So he needs money and has to break a promise not to play baseball again. Fine. But once you're in the team, Alex, your can't be bothered attitude is irresponsible, especially for a player who is supposed to be in a team. Alex plays badly, doesn't bother to shape up, and makes me really irritated with him. It is one thing to play that same old boring Self Pity Blues tune long into the night, but honey, he is paid to play baseball - he better damn well play.

The secondary characters fare better and they are the ones that save the show. Captain and Camille's friend Hildegarde have a moving romance, and I do adore the feud between Camille's father and a shopkeeper rival. Camille, despite her inability to stand up for herself, is really a fun heroine. Laughter abounds in Honey, assuring that I have a great time in Harmony.

Too bad that Alex has to be so fond of his misery for so long. Not at all heroic!

Rating: 82

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