Better Than Perfect
by Kristina Mathews
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
“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.”
Let's Learn a Little about Kristina Mathews:
What is your writing environment?
It’s oh, so glamorous. My main writing space is a leather chair and ottoman my husband got me for our tenth wedding anniversary. But my other “offices” are the front seat of my SUV while waiting for practice to let out, the deck of our family’s cabin near Mt. Shasta, and anywhere I can bring my laptop.
Who is your perfect hero and why?
My husband of over twenty years. He took a chance on a nineteen-year-old girl who was a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll, and a whole lot of sports fanatic. He’s been my best friend and biggest supporter. When he brought me to meet his family for Thanksgiving dinner, he more than impressed me when he and his brothers immediately got up from the table after dinner and started doing the dishes.
What authors have caught your interest lately and why?
It’s so hard for me to pick. There are so many good authors I’ve read and met in real life. My favorite classics author is Wilkie Collins. He wrote The Moonstone and The Woman In White and about thirty books in the 1860’s. He was a friend of Charles Dickens and lived an interesting lifestyle that was very much against the norm. I love Stephen King, but I haven’t read some of his newer works. Too busy writing, mostly. I do follow his advice, though and read daily. I read so much I sometimes forget who I read.
Contemporary authors I enjoy are Brenda Novak, Liz Talley, Jeannie Watt, Tawny Webber, Virna DePaul, Susan Mallery, Shirley Jump, Bella Andre, Allison Brennan, Gemma Brocato, CD Brennan, Rogenna Brewer… Did I mention I read a lot?
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I started writing a historical romance when I was first married. It was set in the gold rush era and I don’t think I got halfway through it before realizing there would be an awful lot of research I’d need to do to make it authentic. And this was when the Internet was still an idea only computer geeks really were excited about.
My first completed manuscript was an inspirational, secret baby, spy-thriller with a lot of flashbacks. There was so much wrong with that book, but it did show me that I could write a story from beginning to end. But in researching the writing industry I discovered contemporary romance. Stories about real men and women who live in modern times, (with modern conveniences like deodorant and birth control).
When I first started writing seriously, athlete heroes were still considered a risky venture. But I think Kevin Costner was once told no one would go see a baseball movie with ghosts. They say to write what you know. I feel like I should write what I love. I love baseball and I know a lot about the game even if I haven’t played since 1979. Plus, it seems to be a growing sub-genre and I’m really excited about that as both a reader and a writer.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
Someday I hope to drive all 3, 073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD.
I hope to go to Spring Training, Cooperstown, and possibly participate in a fantasy baseball camp. Or at least be a ball dudette at a San Francisco Giants game.
I think it would be awesome to do a book tour/ballpark tour. I’ve only been to AT&T Park, Candlestick and the Oakland Coliseum. I’d love to visit Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and pretty much all of the Major League ballparks, and if I could interact with readers who love baseball, even better.
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
I’m a huge sports fan, but I got tired of the scandal surrounding athletes. Having kids who play sports, I see so many positives that being part of team can bring. I wanted to write about a baseball player who wasn’t a player off the field. I also wanted to pay tribute to the real “Johnny Scottsdale.” When my husband was a kid, his older cousin teased him saying he wasn’t really a Mathews, his real name was Johnny Scottsdale. It made him cry during the whole road trip and being the youngest cousin, he was still called that name. I guess now I’ll have to ask for royalties whenever his cousin uses the name.
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
It’s hard to pick a favorite. Really, really hard. It would be like trying to pick a favorite book. I guess I’d have to say the scene where they meet again for the first time.
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
Book 2, Worth The Trade will be out in July. Team owner Hunter Collins and her new left fielder, Marco Santiago would give anything to get the Goliaths to the World Series, including their hearts.
I’m working on Books 3 and 4, hoping to have them ready for release in 2015.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I read a lot. I love baseball and the San Francisco Giants. The 49ers are my favorite football team. I enjoy shuttling my two sons around to their various activities. My oldest is an athlete, playing football, skiing, golf… whatever is available to him. He played baseball until this year. Both boys are also involved in music and theater. We also enjoy travelling. We took our oldest on his first road trip when he was 90 days old. The farthest we’ve driven was from California to Mt. Rushmore and back in ten days. I took my first online writing course in a tent at Zion National Park.
What would you consider a perfect date?
My husband and I try to spend our anniversary by catching a ballgame and spending the night in San Francisco. We usually end up at Lefty O’Doul’s and listen to a little piano music, share a couple of Anchor Steams, and maybe “just one more,” until the bartender got annoyed with us.
What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
My first paying job was as an extra in the movie Bound For Glory. I was five. I remember trying on costumes, eating cafeteria style at the fairgrounds, and sitting on a bus for long periods of time. I did make twenty dollars, as reported on my Social Security statement.
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.
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Kristina will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC plus a digital copy of the book to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning! Follow the tour HERE