Falling for Centerfield (Belltown Six Pack)

Sophia Summers, Rebecca Connolly,
Heather B. Moore

Chasing after professional athletes is part of Harlow Ember’s job description as a university press liaison in Massachusetts. She’s mostly fine with that, until she crosses paths with MLB centerfielder for the California Sea Rays, Cole Hunter, her secret crush from college. They stumble into a relationship and manage to poke each other’s vulnerabilities along the way. The author uses the environment of professional baseball to examine the multiple sources of pressure athletes and sports journalists experience while trying to perform well in their jobs and also maintain their integrity. 

Threads combining strategic publicity stunts and social media engagement with effective philanthropy realistically portray the needs of underserved communities and foster children. Harlow’s involvement with planning an event in Seneca Falls underscores her comments about women’s rights and the 1848 convention held in Seneca Falls that launched the Women’s Suffrage movement in the U.S. These and other important sociopolitical references add engaging substance to an often lighthearted sports romance. 

“Falling for Centerfield” is strong in story pacing and establishing a sense of time and place. It’s the mismatched characterizations of the main couple that compete with the story’s strengths. Harlow and Cole repeatedly behave with childish and impulsive disregard for the consequences of their actions. They’ve been out of college long enough to have firmly established their professional careers, but they both act like insecure high schoolers. Harlow’s thoughts about Cole refer to prom, a letterman jacket, and being a lovesick teenager. There’s a disconnect between their ages and their maturity that makes their love story seem more like a teen romance. With that in mind, “Falling for Centerfield” is a cheerful read. 

Cardyn Brooks