Review: Play on by Michelle Smith

Series: Lewis Creek #1
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 258 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2015
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything.

Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek—he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I picked this book up because I was really sick and I wanted something cute to read. I am really happy to say Michelle Smith delivered! A baseball romance with a Southern hook? Sign me up!

This romance was as sweet as cherry pie. Austin is a God in his small town of Lewis Creek because he has a golden arm. He brings his baseball team to the state championships every year and that's a big deal. Elevated on a pedestal, his town worships their baseball team because that's the small-town vibe. Him and two of his best friends, Jay (catcher) and Brett (third base), are entering their finals season before they head off to different colleges and, boy, will it be a crazy one.

Austin is not immune to coach's rules despite being the town superstar, which means he is at risk of getting kicked off the starting roster if he doesn't find a chemistry tutor to help him get his grades up and maintain a 3.0 GPA. This made me really love the coach because he was the father figure that Austin was lacking in his life after his father committed suicide two years earlier. Back on track...it just so happens that the new girl from Maryland with big, doe-like green eyes that is now working in Austin's flower shop plans on attending USC in the Fall for chemistry. Convenient, huh?

This romance was SO DARN CUTE. It blossomed slowly at Marisa's request by starting off as friends, then more then friends, then hesitant boyfriend/girlfriend before the big "I love you" occurred. There was lots of cute banter, Southern jokes, gentlemanly actions on Austin's part, and teasing on Marisa's part. These two just mesh so well and you start rooting for them immediately within the first ten pages when he almost knocks her over at a barbecue joint. I also have to say that their slow-moving romance endeared them to me even more because it is hinted that Austin has had sex in the past, but there's no rush to do so in this relationship since this book only spans a couple of months.

Despite the sweet romance, this book also deals with some tough subjects like depression. I have to say I enjoyed how it handled it because it showed how depression is not something that can be fixed. Austin mistakenly thought it was something that could be fixed because it wasn't obvious in his father and because Marisa would be so happy one minute and so, so sad the next. But through the novel he learned that depression is a thief that sneaks up on you, that it's not easy to handle but can be handled properly when surrounded by the right people, and he learned to love someone with something that scares him so immensely and made him hate his father for a little while. He learned to understand and that's a big deal.

I also liked the lgbtq relationship found in this book. It's the South, so it does touch upon how their views on such things may be different down there than up North, but Austin was very accepting from the get-go and most people did come around after a while. If you care about a friend/classmate/family member/neighbor, you care about them despite who they love. While not everyone came around to this sentiment, it was a nice one nonetheless and an interesting thing to explore as a subplot.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It brought on the cheese and kept me smiling, even had me crying happy tears at the end. Sometimes the cheese was a little too much or the plot picked up a little too fast here or there, but I am not complaining. This book put a huge smile on my face and that's all I wanted. I look forward to reading book two, GAME ON, which is Eric's story. We're gonna get a bit of a Southern bad-boy with that one! Sign me up!

 4 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.

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