The Heart of the Game
The Tavonesi Series, #6
by Pamela Aares
Released: March 13, 2015
From USA Today bestselling author Pamela Aares comes THE HEART OF THE GAME, the sixth book in the Tavonesi family series featuring passion, mystery, and well-won love!
When Cody Bond, the Giants’ hot new catcher, agrees to ride in a benefit polo match to help heiress Zoe Tavonesi, he falls hard for the Italian beauty. Cody’s determined not to screw up his career with relationships, especially when Zoe and the loving, tight-knit, aristocratic Tavonesis remind him of everything his dysfunctional American family isn’t. But while he may be a master of control on the baseball field, Cody’s iron will can’t shield him from the desire Zoe awakens. Zoe wants nothing to do with her family’s new home and vineyard in the California wine country. Every day spent in exile from the world she loves in Rome feels like an eternity. Her heart’s set on returning to Italy and opening the art gallery her late mother always wanted. But the passion Cody fires has her second-guessing her plan and her dreams. Just as they open to love, Zoe’s family is caught up in a dangerous web of Mafia crime. To protect her, Cody must swallow his pride and turn to an ex-CIA operative for help—his estranged father—even as he suspects that Zoe’s family is involved in foul play. But will Zoe’s stubborn determination, Cody’s inability to trust, and the criminals threatening the Tavonesi family kill any chance for the world-altering love they’ve discovered?
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I’ve been fortunate enough to have the privilege of helping to promote all the books in this series and have loved every book. So, of course I couldn’t wait to read this one. I loved the characters and the fact that you get glimpses of couples from the previous books. I also enjoyed the multiple layers to the story and how they are all woven together so seamlessly.
Cody and Zoe are instantly drawn to each other. However, they both are fighting it for different reasons. Cody has issues with his family and it has made him feel unworthy of getting one of his own (or any kind of success for that matter). He’s also driven to be the best catcher in the MLB and doesn’t want any distractions. Zoe is determined to go back to her Rome so she doesn’t want to get attached to anyone in California. She’s also dealing with the loss of her mother as well as weird behavior from her father. Of course their strong attraction to each other can’t be ignored and so begins the battle. The fire between these two is intense and I loved watching their story unfold.
The story line was awesome. There’s Zoe’s family trying to adjust to the loss of their mother and being in a new country, her father’s secrets and erratic behavior, and her determination to get back to Rome as soon as possible. Then you have Cody’s family issues, his own internal demons, and his drive to have no distractions while he fights for his goal to be MLB’s #1 catcher. And let’s not forget the romance blooming between Cody and Zoe as well as the sinister Vico who is up to nothing good. All of these different lines are woven together to make one hell of a book that is hard to put down. 5 out of 5 palm trees!
Just about every aspect of Zoe tugged at him. And if he were to be honest, the Tavonesi clan and their close relationships had called up a disturbing longing he’d never known—a wish that he had a tight, loving family that had each other’s backs.
His sister’s plea that he give reconciliation a chance had hounded him. He’d let his anger drive him for so long that love of any sort seemed like a mostly forgotten dream. He’d become accustomed to his self-imposed exile. If it hadn’t been for Zoe stirring him in deep places he thought he’d successfully abandoned, he might’ve gone on for years comfortably forgetting the richness of the love he’d known before things had gone so very wrong. Maybe Kat was right. Maybe it was time to mend some of his own fences.
When he got home, he texted his brother and told him he’d ride in the rodeo. Talking about his rodeo days with Zoe had rekindled his love for the broncs. Hell, being around her had rekindled so much more than that.
He typed out a text to Zoe and told her he’d be out of town for a while. He also invited her to join him at Ryan and Cara’s place the next week. The afternoon was originally supposed to be just the guys doing hard-core batting practice, but Jackie, Alex’s wife, had decided to join them, as had Scotty’s wife, Chloe. The occasion was a perfect opportunity to hang with Zoe. His teammates’ wives could relate to Zoe—especially Cara and Jackie. Cara was an heiress who came from the high life and yet had settled down in Albion Bay with Ryan. Cody didn’t want to cop to the fact that Cara not considering Ryan’s working-class roots an impediment to their relationship had probably played a role in Cody’s invitation to Zoe.
He stared at the text on the screen and then clicked off his phone. He was scheming. Plotting. And what the hell was he doing thinking about impediments to long-term relationships? He hadn’t even had a short-term girlfriend in the past three years. Life in the minors had pretty much eaten up his focus and his time. He’d settled for brief hook-ups that never got in the way of his game.
His desire to steal a few more moments alone with Zoe had him clicking on his phone. He sent the text. He stared at the screen and told himself that no matter what came of the afternoon, the practice in Ryan’s batting cage would improve his game.
But for the first time in a long time, baseball wasn’t the primary force driving his actions.
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