Hi Joanne and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Perfect Catch!
Hello! I’m so excited to be here sharing my upcoming release that introduces readers to a family full of baseball players!
To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:
The Perfect Catch is the first book in my Texas Playmakers series, and it’s set in the fun new fictional world of Last Stand, Texas, a shown that I helped to dream up along with a bunch of other authors. Eve Gaddy launched the Last Stand books in April, and there have since been titles by Katherine Garbera and Justine Davis set in the same small town. There will be new Last Stand books each week for months to come. But my story– The Perfect Catch– is about a family full of baseball player heroes, each at different stages of their professional careers. Cal Ramsey gets injured and ends up having to spend tome time back in his hometown. He stumbles on the heroine very unexpectedly and Josie *really* doesn’t need to be around someone in the spotlight… she’s got some secrets to keep!
Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:
I really liked the opening of the book when the hero is faced with the worst news of his professional life-
…After arriving at the stadium, he’d been told to report to the general manager’s office. And every second since then had felt like an out of body experience. He hadn’t been sent down to the minors, which considering his slow start and tweaked hamstring would have been understandable.
He’d been released. Designated for assignment and put on waivers for any one of twenty-nine other teams to claim. In the weeks to come, he could be picked up by any other team for next to nothing. As of today, he was the special of the week- the player put on the major league clearance rack, so to speak. Though uncertain if another team would pick him up, he was certain that at best his future would be as a journeyman utility guy.
But right now, with his batting average the worst it had been in his entire career, there was a chance he’d be out of baseball for good.
Calvin Ramsey, son of a storied baseball family with a pitching legend for a father, first of his name to lock down a seven-figure signing bonus, had just been given the boot.
What inspired this book?
- My husband was a sports editor for many years, and I lived and breathed sports during that time. I love writing sports heroes!
- A trip to Fredericksburg, Texas with some of the other Last Stand authors really helped me see the town and make it feel real.
- Having grown up on a farm, I know a bit about the rewards and frustrations of raising your own crops.
How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?
I’ve listened to a lot of new and not-so-new pro baseball players in interviews, mining their personal experiences and professional pathways to help inform my hero, Cal. The heroine, Josie, was a little harder to know because she’s intensely private and guarded. Her time in Last Stand is a real departure for her, and I really liked seeing the way she grew stronger after stepping out of the shadow of an overbearing parent. Having worked for her mother for all of her adult life, she didn’t know anything else, but in Last Stand, she really becomes her own woman.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I always like the first meet. Getting the hero and heroine together for the first time feels like we’re off to the races and things start really rolling in a story. I like the sexual tension sparking off them right away.
What was the most difficult scene to write?
The black moment–in every book– is probably the most challenging for me as a writer. I ache with my characters, and I never enjoy torturing them to bring around their HEA! So the days I’m writing that scene are always angst-filled for me right along with the characters.
… Josie looked at Cal across the breakfast table, wanted to ask more, but she also didn’t want to push for too many details when she still kept a lock on her own past.
“I’m sorry that I brought up the future of the farm on a day of good news for you.” She set aside her fork and reached across the table to squeeze his forearm. “You must be looking forward to a fresh start.”
“If it all comes together.” His green eyes met hers and she felt the simmer of their connection tingle through her. “And either way, I’m hoping I don’t hear for a little while longer so we can enjoy these two weeks together.”
Awareness heated her skin. Clearly he looked forward to that time as much as she did. It caught her off guard to know that this successful, smart, gorgeous man felt that way about her.
“I’d like that, too,” she admitted, wondering how she’d get her chores done each day with the lure of this man nearby. Even now she was wondering how fast they could finish breakfast so they could tear each other’s clothes off again.
“The funny part about my agent’s call was that he felt the need to warn me to be on good behavior until we hear from a new team.” Cal’s eyes lit with humor while Josie’s belly knotted with worry. “As if I could get into any trouble touring the orchards and painting Everett’s house. Obviously, my agent has never been to Last Stand.”
Her appetite vanished at the thought of her past rearing its ugly head at a time that could hurt Cal’s return to baseball.
“He should know you better than that.” Anxiety made it hard for her to stay in her seat at the table. Suddenly, she couldn’t help but hope Cal’s call came sooner rather than later, even if it meant robbing her of time with the worthiest man she’d ever met.
“He does. But I’m sure he’s seen a lot of contracts vanish for the sake of a single poor decision.” Cal stood to retrieve the coffee pot and top off their drinks.
He must not have noticed her nervousness when he dropped a kiss on her head as he filled her cup. She wanted to lean into him, to close her eyes and take comfort in his strong presence, but the sense of guilt over keeping her past a secret was eating away at her.
She debated sharing the truth right then. To just put it out there and see if he thought it was a cause for concern, since forewarned was forearmed. Even if it meant losing him for good. She had to be honest.
“Cal–.” She traced the pattern on the handle of her spoon, figuring the only way to tell him was to just start talking.
His cell phone vibrated, interrupting her.
Her gaze flew to his, and she noticed the way he winked at her. Like they shared a happy secret. Like he might be receiving good news.
Except, when he flipped over his phone and checked the message, she could tell by his expression that it was anything but. His face went blank.
She hugged her arms around herself, praying the news didn’t have anything to do with her. Knowing it damn well did.
“Cal?” Her voice was a thin rasp. “Is everything okay?”
He slid his phone across the table to her, screen side up. “See for yourself.”
The coldness in his words was a clear warning.
Her gaze went to a photo from the game last night, her turning into Cal’s arm as he scowled at whoever was taking their photograph. But the damning part was the caption beneath the image.
Released from his contract, former Rebels player Calvin Ramsey steps out with a Florida woman currently under police investigation.
Her stomach sank to her toes.
Cal’s voice sounded like a stranger’s when he spoke again, “I think you owe me an explanation before you pack your things.”
Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?
This story is a mix of tried-and-true Joanne Rock with a twist of different. It definitely incorporates some of the humor and warm-heartedness of the books I wrote for Superromance. The family saga feel will be familiar to my Desire readers.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
A smile and a warm heart! I always hope that readers close my books with a happy sigh. Sometimes I think romance helps us to be more patient with our personal relationships in real life too, reminding us of the hard paths those around us might be taking without us knowing about it. I believe romance makes readers more empathetic.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I just finished the sequel to The Perfect Catch, called Game On, and it releases in August. Nate’s story will continue following the Ramsey brothers as he reconnects with the hometown girl he left behind to chase his dreams.
My upcoming releases include:
RANCHER IN HER BED, Harlequin Desire 6/19
GAME ON, Texas Playmakers 8/19
MESA FALLS: THE REBEL, Harlequin Desire 11/19
MESA FALLS: THE RIVAL, Harlequin Desire 12/19
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Joanne is giving away two prizes! A digital download of Second Chance Cowboy to one reader (open INTL) and a prize pack of three of her signed Texas-set stories plus book swag to one reader (open US).
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Hero Cal Ramsey is torn between his baseball career and the pull of the family farm that needs someone to oversee it. If you weren’t in your current career, what other job might you have done?
Excerpt from The Perfect Catch:
Long past midnight, Cal slid his key into the backdoor of the old country farmhouse where he’d been raised. A house now occupied solely by his mother since she’d divorced his dad and vacated the over-the-top mansion Clint Ramsey had built after retiring from baseball. Like his siblings, Cal felt far more at home here, next door to his grandfather’s farm, on the property where Ramseys had lived since Last Stand became a town.
He’d driven straight to Last Stand from the airport in Houston once he’d made his mind up to come home after spending the last two weeks in Mexico. Only one of them sober.
Since he’d never been a drinker as a professional athlete, he’d felt entitled to all the tequila he could handle to toast the end of his career. He’d cleared waivers and remained unclaimed three weeks after he’d been designated for assignment. Barring a miracle, he was out of baseball for good. Now, stepping silently onto the braid rug inside the kitchen, he was just about to help himself to whatever leftovers were in his mother’s refrigerator when the barking started.
Deep throated woofs mingled with high-pitched yaps. Nails scrambled on hardwood as the race was on to see who was at the door. Cal cursed himself for not remembering that his mother kept a pack of dogs around at all times. So much for not waking her.
Would any of the mutts remember him from the last time he’d visited her here? Two years ago, he guessed.
Probably not when he hadn’t recalled them either.
The pack descended the stairs and skidded around the corner, a little tornado of white fluff leading the way. Two excited lab mixes galloped behind it. Relieved his mom hadn’t taken in any super protective guard breeds, he relaxed a fraction.
“Take it easy, guys,” Cal cautioned them, extending a hand for the bigger dogs to sniff while the little one alternated growling and jumping. “Put a sock in it and I’ll share whatever I find in the fridge.”
The labs sat attentively the moment he reached for the handle of the stainless steel refrigerator, their tails wagging in almost perfect synch. The fluff ball darted between his feet as if it wanted first peek at what was inside.
Perplexed at the almost completely bare shelves, Cal tugged open all the empty drawers and heard a floorboard creek overhead, not surprised the racket had woken his mom.
He stared at the quart of strawberries and bundle of asparagus, both clearly picked from her garden. He couldn’t recall a time in his life when he’d shown up at his mom’s house without a homemade pie or bread lurking somewhere. A leftover soup or pasta dish. A container of cookies in the freezer.
“Damn.” He scratched the littlest of the dogs on top of her furry head while the animal stood with her paws in the base of the barren wasteland masquerading as a fridge. “Either Mom’s been abducted by aliens or she’s selling this refrigerator.”
Tipping the door closed, he heard an ominous metallic click behind him, followed by a hoarse feminine voice.
“Turn around slowly,” a woman who was not his mom rasped. “And show me some identification or I’ll call the cops.”
Cal peered behind him while the dogs defected to the newcomer’s side.
Because there, standing behind him with an ancient .22 caliber rifle pointed at his chest and wearing his mother’s bathrobe, was a woman he’d never seen in his life. Dark hair stuck out from her head at all angles. She looked young and possibly hot, but his brain drew boundaries at anything wearing his mother’s robe.
Also, his grandfather’s hunting rifle deterred normal male thoughts.
“Who the hell are you?” he demanded, lifting his hands over his head since that felt like a more natural response to a gun in his face than digging for his ID.
Besides, the woman shook like a leaf as if she was the terrified one even though she was holding the weapon. He figured he’d better not make any startling moves or he’d end up with a hole in him. Possibly worse.
“I might ask you the same thing!” Bright blue eyes wide, she lifted her head from the scope to glare at him.
He suspected—whoever she was—she had no earthly clue how to use the .22 if she’d been employing the scope while he stood roughly eight feet away from her.
“I’m Calvin Ramsey,” he shouted louder than he would have liked, but he was exasperated, starving, unemployed and being held at gunpoint in his childhood home. “Where’s my mother?”
The dogs all barked in response, for all the good that did him.
“You’re the oldest son.” The woman seemed to have some sense of recognition then.
She tipped aside the stock, thank you God.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
He didn’t think coming home would mean falling in love
Outfielder Calvin Ramsey returns to his Texas farm home after being released from his team, an unexpected surprise sure to tarnish the family baseball legacy. But when he finds a sexy stranger acting as the temporary caretaker for his childhood home, all thoughts of baseball disappear.
She won’t fall for another player
After losing her savings to a swindler ex-boyfriend, Josie Vance moves to Last Stand to start fresh where no one knows her unhappy past or the con that bankrupted her. But her peaceful healing time evaporates when the homeowner’s son arrives and throws himself into life on the farm—and charming Josie. She can’t risk an affair that draws attention to her or her past. Especially not when the public’s fascination with the baseball-playing Ramsey clan is at an all-time high. Can she keep her secrets, her low profile, and her heart too?
Meet the Author:
Joanne Rock is a USA Today bestselling author and four-time RITA finalist. She’s written over eighty books in a wide range of romance subgenres, most recently focusing on sexy contemporaries and small-town family sagas. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly–love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to her intensive study with friend and fellow author Catherine Mann. When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel to gather new ideas.
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