Is it too much to expect a short story anthology called "Hot Ticket" to actually have some sports in it?
I bought this because I love sports -- all sports. I'm not picky. And I was excited to finally get some more romance stories that featured hot athletes, and the sports they play. Like Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Chicago Stars series, or Rachel Gibson's Seattle Chinooks series, or even Deirdre Martin's "Body Check" (her first, best, and only decent hockey novel).
But in "Hot Ticket" the sports these guys play don't just take a backseat to the plot, they aren't even in it. The heroes in this anthology could be carpet salesmen, for all their supposed athletic careers figure into the story.
In Martin's "Same Rink, Next Year," the entire story takes place in a snowed-in hotel. Not a single hockey game, practice, or reference in sight. All the hero has that makes him an athlete is a great body, and jerks for teammates (who pop up every so often). Why he and his concierge get together, and stay together, is still a mystery to me. I don't have that much loyalty for Santa Claus, and I see him once a year too.
London's "Lucky Charm" was so annoying, I couldn't finish it. And for me, that rarely happens. But this heroine made me want to punch her by chapter two. Although the hero -- a baseball player who was supposedly good, but one she trashed anyway -- liked her brand of psycho foreplay, because he stuck around. I was really annoyed by this story, because London talked baseball in the beginning, rattling off stats and info that lead me to think she is a real fan of the game, and I was looking forward to what her story would develop into. Alas, I was not a fan of her two main characters, and actually couldn't read past chapter 7. It was either ditch the story, or start screaming at the pages and the most annoying heroine/hero combo ever.
Blair's "You Can't Steal First" was also a disappointment. I'd read "My Favorite Witch," which was decent, and had a great, sexy ex-hockey star hero. He got out on the ice in that book, even though an injury sidelined his career. In "You Can't Steal First," basebally player Juan Santiago never leaves the train he's taking to spring training. If I hadn't remembered him from "Witch" I doubt I would have remembered what sport he supposedly played. He could have been a train conductor, for all his career had to do with the story.
That problem continues in Buckley's "Can't Catch This," where the hero's only connection to professional sports is that his cousin is an arena football QB. This guy is just a cowboy/business man. Oh, sorry, he's a rich venture capitalist. In a sports romance anthology. No, I'm not kidding. This was the best idea Buckley could come up with? So the hero/heroine meet at a game -- big deal. Again, they could have met on Santiago's train, for all that had to do with the plot.
I am puzzled by the positive reviews this anthology has gotten. But I guess if you don't really care about sports, like short stories with plots that are implausible and characters that make you want to slap them, then you should get this book. Better yet, take mine, I will give it to you. If you want to read good romances with sexy athletes who are still connected to their sports, read Rachel Gibson or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.