Review: Bench Player (Julianna Keyes)

Bench Player
Series: Charleston Thrashers, #2
Author: Julianna Keyes
Publication Date: March 30, 2020
Publisher: Julianna Keyes
Genre: Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

ALLISON

As Public Relations Manager for the Charleston Thrashers, I’m responsible for protecting the team’s reputation. But after our right fielder gets sent to prison and we lose the World Series, my own reputation takes a huge hit. There’s only one way I can save my job: by revamping Connor Whitman’s tarnished ex-con image. Keeping my eye on the ball isn’t a problem until I discover what’s underneath his unkempt exterior—a man who’s unexpectedly vulnerable and distractingly sexy. Now, my professionalism is sailing far into foul territory.

CONNOR

I’ve served my time, and now I’m determined to reclaim my spot in the Thrashers’ outfield. Unfortunately, the new General Manager doesn’t want an aging ex-con on the roster, so I have no choice but to go along with Allison’s annoying scheme. Her bossiness drives me crazy—but so do her legs and her hair and her all-too-rare smiles. I can’t afford to fall for anyone when my focus needs to be on baseball, but love is a game I’ve never played before, and for the first time ever, I’m out of my league.


After reading Team Player, I was excited to hear there was going to be a second book in the Charleston Thrashers series. Bench Player was a great sports romance read. It had an almost enemies vibe going on at first, which then turned into a sort of forbidden lovers thing. Both of those tropes were done well and made the romance all the more fun.

I loved Allison. She was tough as nails, but also had a softer side. I loved her relationship with her grandfather. It was adorable! It might have almost been sweeter than her relationship with Connor…

Connor was a character I haven’t read before  in a sports romance. Sure, I’ve read about players who need some sort of image overhaul, but I don’t think I’ve ever read the ex-con angle before. I loved how it changed him. He was standoffish at first and had every reason to be. I loved seeing his character growth over the course of the story, and how his relationship with Allison changed how he saw a few things.

Allison + Connor = Fire! I loved their banter and chemistry. They seemed too opposite to make sense at first, but then that was what made them make sense together. I loved the ups and down they went through to get to their finish line.

The only thing I didn’t like in this book was something close to the end. It made me sad. I just wish the story hadn’t gone there. I felt like it maybe it didn’t need to.

Other than that one thing, I loved this book. I’m really hoping this series continues as there are a couple more players I would love to see get their own story.

21 thoughts on “Review: Bench Player (Julianna Keyes)”

    1. I would recommend her book Undecided. I think you would like that one. And this series, too. I think it would be your thing.
      Thanks!

  1. I have been wanting to read something from Keyes for years. I know I have several of her books on my TBR. I can honestly say I have not seen an ex-con sports hero either. Interesting premise.

  2. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Keyes. It can be a real bummer when some kink is thrown in at the end that can change the way you feel about a book. Glad you still enjoyed this!

    1. I actually really liked it overall, though. I would recommend it. I also think you would like her Undecided.

  3. Ooh, this sounds good! I don’t think I’ve read an ex-con romance before but my memory is pretty awful lol so maybe I have 😂 But I haven’t heard of this series before and my interest is piqued. Can this be read as a standalone?

    1. The first book is on sale for like $.99 right now, I think. I do think this could probably be read as a standalone, though.

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