Baseball reporter Cat McDaniels is desperately trying to get her career back on track after exposing her previous employers, the Las Vegas Chips, in a huge sports scandal. Now, nobody will hire her for their team, but when a position becomes available with the Buffalo Soldiers she tries to get back on the field. Although it means traveling across the country and away from her boyfriend, Cat doesn’t have any other choice.
The Soldiers’ General Manager, baseball legend Roger Aiken is willing to give Cat a chance, but he has one *small* condition. She must first accompany his spoiled daughter Paige to Santo Domingo where Paige will be an assistant to their Latin American team’s scout. Cat will be the team’s reporter. If all goes well, Cat gets the job as the major league’s team reporter.
Cat quickly learns that being Paige’s babysitter is no easy task and a full time job in itself. Paige becomes involved with a sleazy talent agent, Chance Hayward, who Cat doesn’t trust for a minute. One evening the women are walking the beach with Chance and discover the dead body of a young baseball prospect. A strange woman screams at Chance, blaming him for the death. Cat’s reporter instincts take over and she does some investigating on her own.
With the help of an old friend and coach, Junior DeLeon, Cat tries to find out the truth behind the death and, at the same time, protect Paige. It’s a race against time when a young prospect goes missing and Paige’s life is on the line. Cat is fearful for the young woman’s life, as well as her own.
This is the second book of the Cat McDaniel Mysteries (also known as The Foul Ball Series). I love baseball and couldn’t pass up this book. Jen Estes did a great job creating the baseball scene and I felt as if I were really in Santo Domingo. It’s a quick read with great characters. The storyline is fast-paced and keeps readers trying to figure things out with Cat. I didn’t read the first book, but I was still able to enjoy this one. I do think I would have enjoyed it even more had I read the first one (which I plan to do).
FTC Disclosure: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours provided me with a copy of this book to review. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
As they walked out of the restaurant, Cat caught the eye of a busy Cristian and waved goodbye. She tapped Chance on the shoulder. “That reminds me, we want to talk to you about your client.”
“Oh, that’ll cost you and Paige.”
Cat gave him a wary look. “Cost us what?”
“A walk on the beach.” He extended both arms. “One for each of you.”
Paige eagerly locked her right arm with his, but Cat pressed his left arm down to his side. She kicked off her sandals and let them dangle from her fingers before begrudgingly following the duo onto the damp sand.
A few fisherman could be seen on the jetty a hundred yards away, but otherwise they had the beach to themselves. Her steps broke the moist clumps and the powdery sand spilled out over her toes. The sand massaged her soles as they moved closer to the breaking waves. Living in downstate Illinois most of her life, Cat didn’t take the relaxing sound of the oceanic thunder for granted. The soft wind whipped her skirt around her thighs. As they approached the shoreline, the restaurant odors of garlic and grease were replaced with a salty tinge of sea air. The half moon smiled down upon them. It was a perfect moment, until Chance spoke.
“Not bad, huh?”
He said it as though he was taking credit for the beautiful evening. Cat sneered in his direction but it was too dark for the message to be received.
Paige looked around the vacant beach. “There’s nobody here. Is it always like this at night?”
“Almost. We’re just about at the end of our rainy season so the beaches will be busier. But on weeknights, most of the action is in town.”
Their stroll was nearing the rocks that bordered the end of the beach and led out to the jetty. Cat pointed up at the fisherman. “What are they trying to catch?”
Chance shrugged. “Hell if I know. I only eat it; I don’t hunt it.”
Paige watched them thoughtfully. “My dad loves fishing. Says it’s the only true way to get away from the field.”
“Let’s sit for a minute.” He placed his jacket on the sand.
Cat shook her head. “I’m good with standing. I was hoping we could talk about Cristian.”
Chance sat on the sand with his knees in front of him. “We will.” He patted the jacket. “Paige?”
Paige tucked her dress beneath her thighs as she sat on it, facing the ocean.
He scooted closer to her. “What do you think?”
Paige’s eyes didn’t leave the water. “Of the ocean, dinner, or you?”
He chuckled. “All of the above.”
Cat held in a groan as she waited for his predictable moves, expecting the yawn and reach any minute now.
He didn’t yawn, but sure enough, his tan arm slivered around Paige’s bare shoulders.
“Hmm …” Paige tapped her chin thoughtfully. “The ocean is beautiful. Dinner was delicious. And you, well you kind of pale in comparison. Perhaps you should’ve grouped yourself with the fisherman and that weird pile of seaweed over there.”
With his phony chuckles, Chance was beginning to sound like the laugh track from an eighties sitcom. Cat tapped her foot on the sand, but neither of them seemed to notice.
Paige tossed him a playful smile, but then was distracted by the aforementioned pile of seaweed near the jetty. She cocked her head. “What is that?”
In tandem, Cat and Chance turned around. “What?”
Paige stood up, dusted her dress off and pointed. “Over there, in the rocks.”
Chance squinted. “Probably just some litter.”
Cat shook her head. “That doesn’t look like litter.” She took off toward it.
Chance bounced to his feet and caught up to her. The waves smacked the rocks with loud slaps. Cat took slow, deliberate steps, as though trying to sneak up on the mound of seaweed. Another foamy wave crashed onto the shore, this time taking the pile of seaweed back into the ocean with it. Before she could take another step, Chance reached his arm out to stop her. “Cat, don’t go any closer.”
Cat gasped, choking on the breath wedged in her throat. It was too late.
She’d seen the body.
Born and raised in Illinois, Jen Estes started her writing career as a baseball blogger in 2007 and expanded to freelance sports writing in 2009. She is an active member of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Springfield Poets & Writers and the National Writers Union (NWU). Curveball is the second in a series featuring sassy sports writer Cat McDaniel. When Jen isn’t writing, she enjoys running, yoga, traveling and watching baseball with her husband and cat.
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