The woman he left behind and the son he never knew are tougher opponents than any he’s met on the field.
Pitcher Johnny “The Monk” Scottsdale has won awards, been named an All-star and has a perfect game to his credit. Known for his legendary control both on and off the field, his pristine public image makes him the ideal person to work with youth players in a preseason minicamp. Except the camp is run by the one woman he can’t forget…the woman who made him a “monk.”
Alice Harrison’s three strikes include an unexpected pregnancy, a marriage of convenience and young widowhood. She once traded her dreams so Johnny could have a chance at making it to the Majors. Johnny comes back into her life just as she’s ready to resign as foundation director and pursue her own dreams of finally earning her teaching credential. Her plans may go on hold, though, depending on the reaction when she confesses she may have kept a major league secret from Johnny and her son.
With the minutes ticking by until Johnny will leave for spring training, they’ll need to let go of the past and work together in order to win the game of love.
CONTENT WARNING: Some strong language, consummated love scenes
- Where did you get the idea for the novel?
I wanted to write about an athlete who wasn’t a player. It seems like jocks get a bad reputation, and I wanted someone my sons could model themselves after. And I love baseball, so it was a natural fit to model my heroes after real-life players. I also took the name for my hero from a nickname given to my husband when he was a kid. On a family road trip, his older cousin teases him, telling him he wasn’t really a Mathews, his real name was Johnny Scottsdale. This made my husband cry and the name stuck. I thought it was a good name for a hero, and a great way to honor my real life romantic hero.
- Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
My original title was Not Just A Game. I tried out The Ballplayer’s Perfect Mistake, before finally settling on Better Than Perfect. My hero, Johnny Scottsdale once pitched a perfect game, in real life only twenty three players have done that since 1880. He also lived a near perfect, almost monk like existence. The only thing missing was love.
- Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?
I love contemporary romance, I love sports, so when I saw the growth of sports romances, I knew I’d found the right niche for me. I’m especially passionate about baseball, I spend a lot of time watching or listening to the games. I also have kids who play sports and have seen how being a part of a team has shaped their character.
- Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Seeing my book available on Amazon was pretty exciting, and I’m just amazed at the reviews. People I don’t know have read it and found things they like about it. I’m especially touched when people connect to the little things, those special details that I love about my characters.
- What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I’m a pretty voracious reader. Or at least I used to be. I haven’t had as much time to read as I used to. I read a ton of Harlequin Super Romance, single title contemporary, and a few other genres if the author is someone I know personally. I’ve started reading Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aids, by fellow Lyrical author Deb Julienne. She’s also a fellow Sacramento Valley Rose member and we’ve been able to go through the debut author process together.
- What is your writing process?
I usually get an opening scene in my mind. Maybe a character, and I think about what he or she wants, what gets in their way, and how they come out in the end. Then I sit down and write. And rewrite, and go back and rewrite some more. I know some writers get the whole rough draft down without editing along the way, but I can’t help but I tend to go back and tinker as I go along, especially if I get stuck. I’ll reread what I have so far, and if something really stands out, I fix it. Or if I don’t know how to fix it, I’ll leave myself a note.
- At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
This is my first novel. I’ve never done a book signing. I guess I should practice my signature since I’ve got the handwriting of a fourth grade boy. Not that there is anything wrong with a fourth grade boy. I had two of them. One of them has nice penmanship. The other is too much like his mother.
- What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m an introvert. Unless I’m talking about things I’m passionate about. Books. Baseball. Education. Then you can’t shut me up.
- How do you react to a bad review?
I know I’m not supposed to read reviews, but I can’t help it. So far most of the ones that have been rated lower than I’d like have also mentioned something they like about the book, so it makes it easier to look at what they didn’t like and think about how I can do better with the next book. But if I get a really nasty or depressing review, I hope I’ll be able to remember that there were many others who really liked the book. Or I’ll let my husband cheer me up.
- How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I saved a bottle of champagne left over from my In-laws’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. The day I signed the contract, we opened it. My husband and sons toasted the occasion and I got to work on finishing the next book.
“Alice.” Just saying her name sent a line drive straight to his heart. Even fourteen years later.
“Congratulations on your new contract. I know you’re going to have a great year.” She sounded like any other fan, wishing him well. She just marched right up to his table to ask for an autograph. A freaking autograph? Like he meant nothing to her.
A slight breeze blew her hair around her face. She tried to smile as she tucked a loose strand behind her ear. Blond, straight, silky—and if he remembered correctly—oh-so-soft. She wore modestly cut jeans and a soft blue sweater that on anyone else would have looked plain and proper. He didn’t need to glance at her left hand to know she was off limits. Yet, she still moved him like no other woman ever could. Made him long for what he’d had. What he’d lost. What he’d tried for years to forget.
Johnny nodded, giving his most sincere smile, even though seeing Alice, and her kid, hit him like a 97-mile-an-hour fastball.
They started to walk away.
“Give my best to Mel.” As if he hadn’t already done that.
Alice turned around.
“Mel died. Eight years ago.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kristina Mathews doesn't remember a time when she didn't have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn't until 2010 that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing romance novels.
While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she's remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, Parent Club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.
Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.
Kristina will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC plus a digital copy of the book to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn host. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: