Review: Calling It by Jen Doyle (Calling It #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Carina Press in exchange for an honest review.

I read two series starters from two different authors that both had their male main character as professional baseball players and they were both fantastic reads. While my prior read had a pitcher, in first-time author Jen Doyle's Calling It, we've got ourselves an all-star and possible future hall of famer in catcher Nathan Hawkins, who prefers to go by Nate and has been nicknamed Hawk by his friends and teammates. His professional and personal lives are gossip fodder at the moment and the last thing he needs is to stick around Chicago to listen, read, and watch whatever crap is currently being speculated about him. His return to his hometown of Inspiration, Iowa has him rekindling friendships he turned his back on two years prior, touching base with his immediate and extended family, and simply getting away from unwanted attention and scrutiny. Then he finds himself entranced by bespectacled, bat-wielding, refreshingly real librarian Lucinda Donelli, who has absolutely no clue who Nate Hawkins is...or does she?

At thirty-three, Nate has had a career that other baseball players would envy. Unfortunately, he's currently in the limelight for reasons other than his playing ability. With an ex-fiancée he caught with one of his ex-best friends and his role as leader of an expansion team looking to build a future around him in questions because of negative publicity, he just wants some peace and quiet. But back home in Inspiration, Nate not only is faced with the friends he cut ties with, choosing his now ex over them, but is fascinated by the thirty-year-old woman now living in the apartment one of his sisters is supposed to be living in. Dorie, who doesn't like being called Lucinda or Luce, doesn't seem to know who he is and he likes that just fine. She isn't enraptured by his celebrity status or what he can do for and give to her. Only, Dorie actually does know who he is and she's had a thing for Nate since she was all of thirteen. She's fantasized him for more than half her life, and with him showing more than a passing interest in her, Dorie is dazed and confused.

This first in a still unnamed series was a joy to read, with two characters who have a simmering attraction to one another since the very beginning--an attraction that's difficult to explain but one that's been threatening to boil over from the get-go. Dorie's decision to have a set time frame for whatever is going to happen between the two of them could be Nate's chance to show her how serious he is about his feelings for her and that she isn't some temporary thing as far as he's concerned. However, that deadline of hers could very well end up killing any chance of them being more permanent, especially since she seems to be riddled with insecurities and doubts and is having difficulty separating fantasy Nate with real Nate. Even if real Nate is way better than her fantasy version, she's so caught up in her idealized image of him that it doesn't register why he would want to be with someone like her when he's got an ex who wants him back. The thing she doesn't fathom is that she happens to be Nate's fantasy, one he'd like to spend forever with.

Nate was a breath of fresh air. He may have been this highly paid, extremely successful professional ball player, but he was also sweet, funny, and quite understated compared to the majority of characters that share the same occupation and turn out to have an ego complex. He knows who he wants and that's Dorie, so there were certainly moments that I wanted to give her a talking to so that she would open her eyes and see that the man right there in front of her was more than her dream guy--he was real. I liked their love story because it was quirky and fun but also heartfelt. The rest of the cast of characters were also attention grabbers, and while I know the second book in the series, Called Up, will feature Nate's sister, Fitz, and one of his best friends, Max Deacon, I'm hoping the rest of the guys--Wash Fairfeld, Jason Pike, and Cal Turner--who were part of The Dream will also get their stories told as this promising series progresses. For a debut author, Jen Doyle has left one hell of a good impression on me. I'm giving Calling It 4.5 stars. ♥

Date Read: 17 April 2016

Learn more about Jen Doyle.

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