The Perfectly Imperfect Match (Suttonville Sentinels #3)
by Kendra C. Highley
Publication Date: July 10, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
Pitcher Dylan Dennings has his future all mapped out: make the minors straight out of high school, work his way up the farm system, and get called up to the majors by the time he’s twenty-three. The Plan has been his sole focus for years, and if making his dreams come true means instituting a strict “no girls” policy, so be it.
Lucy Foster, needlepoint ninja, big sister to an aspiring pitcher, and chicken advocate, likes a little mayhem. So what if she gets lost taking her brother to baseball camp…at her own high school? The pitching coach, some hotshot high school player, obviously thinks she’s a hot mess. Too bad he’s cute, because he’s so not her type.
Problem is, they keep running into each other, and every interaction sparks hotter than the last. But with Dylan’s future on the line, he has to decide whether some rules are made to be broken…
Disclaimer: This book contains a crazy night of moonlit skinny-dipping, a combustible crush, and kisses swoony enough to unwind even the most Type A athlete.
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Lucy watched Dylan cut through the water with a precise breaststroke. Even his swimming was neat and tidy. She slumped against the bench as he pulled himself onboard and untied the boys’ boat. He stood there, dripping, while their friends cruised away.
“Um…” He swallowed hard and wiped water out of his eyes. “Look—”
“Don’t bother.” She slumped as far as she could without falling off the bench. “I know what you meant. Just because our friends set us up doesn’t mean we have to do anything about it.”
“Hey.” He sounded irritated now. “You don’t understand, and that’s why I’m here. I’m not dating because I’m focused entirely on baseball right now. I have a shot at the minors next spring after we graduate, and I’m putting all my energy into that. It’s not you.” He rubbed his face, shifting his balance like he was going to jump out of the boat any second. “You’re…you’re…well, you’re someone I would definitely chat up under different circumstances.”
Lucy slowly sat up straighter, noticing how his ears had turned red. The little devil on her shoulder, the one that made her impulsive, talked her into pulling her shoulders back and pushing her chest out ever so slightly. Just to see what he’d do. When his eyes drifted, then snapped back to her face, she smirked a little. “Chat me up, huh? Even though you think I’m a hot mess?”
“Did I ever say that?” He crossed his arms over his life vest. “Maybe I questioned your ability to drive places, but I never said you were a mess.” “Uh huh.” She relaxed against the seat, unable to believe it. “You seemed really annoyed that I stayed for camp today. I could almost see the thought bubble over your head, ‘this one’s brought his crazy sister.’”
“I didn’t…” He squeezed his eyes shut and ground his jaw. After a deep breath, he tried again. “I just thought you were a little overprotective. Otis is nine, not two.”
“And who are you to decide that?” Lucy sat up straighter, daring him to look her over. “But, if you want, I’ll stay away from your precious camp. You better take good care of my brother, though, or we’ll have more than words, Coach Dylan.”
She sighed, furious that she’d taken the bait and engaged with this jackass. “You don’t have to stand there like you’re about to jump in the lake if I twitch in your direction. I wouldn’t touch you if you paid me.”
Dylan’s eyes narrowed. As if he was calling her bluff, he unbuckled his life vest and dropped it to the floor. Oh, shirtless boy alert.
Yep, she was right…he was cute. And cut. His blond hair was tinged gold by the setting sun, but her gaze kept straying somewhere else…somewhere tan and muscular. As she watched, his forearms tensed, showing off a pair of arms that demanded her attention.
She met his eyes and found him smirking back at her. Right. “I appreciate the effort, but you’re not my type.”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re not exactly mine, either, Princess.”
She rose, standing with her feet wide apart to compensate for the rocking boat. “And what type is that? Bubble headed? Simpering? Compliant?”
He glared at her. “Disciplined. Smart. Driven.”
She laughed coldly. “I think that’s the wrong kind of girl for you. Too much like-knows-like. You need someone to shake you up, make you live for now instead of a year from now.”
“Oh, and you think you’re the person to do that?”
For some reason, both their voices had risen, but she couldn’t back down. Mom would tell her the passion was getting the better of her, and if only she took a second to breathe, she’d see it. Too late for that now. “I might be, if you removed the stick from your ass.”
He took a step toward her. “Yeah, and you need someone to untangle your hot-mess self.”
She took a big step toward him, pointing a finger at his chest. “I knew you thought I was a hot mess!”
He took another step, but she wasn’t afraid of him. No, she didn’t think she’d ever felt so alive, honestly. Her heart pounded in her chest, and her fingertips tingled. Like she’d been in a dim room, and someone had turned on a floodlight.
“Fine! I did think it, and I’ll say it, too,” Dylan snapped. “You’re a hot mess, Lucy Foster. What are you going to do about it?”
Her mouth dropped open, and her whole body flushed with heat. The next step she took brought her an inch away from him. Close enough to see he was shaking. Rage? Fear? All she knew was that she was shaking, too, but it was from neither of those things. “You know what I think? I think you’re a jackass!”
Then, before she could decide whether this was the worst idea she’d ever had, she swayed closer, so that her chest brushed his just barely, and went up on tiptoe, stopping short of kissing him…waiting to see what would happen.
They stared each other down, each of them breathing hard. Lucy’s gaze dropped to his lips then back to his eyes, daring him to make a move.
He growled, this frustrated, almost anguished sound, before closing the distance. He pulled her close, his wet torso sliding slick against hers. Then his mouth was on hers, and she forgot everything—about being angry, about being stuck in the middle of the lake with a guy who pushed her buttons, about Dad being gone. Nothing mattered but his warm breath against her cheek and his strong arms holding her tight despite the rocking boat beneath them. Good thing, because she was lightheaded, but didn’t want to come up for air.
They clung together, the kiss frantic and disorganized. Somewhere in the back of her brain, she recognized this guy hadn’t let himself go for a long, long time…and that he’d been hurt recently. All of it was there in the depth of this kiss. His chest was warm, heaving against hers, and his fingers traced the line of her bare spine, sending shivers across her back.
She didn’t even hear the other boat approach. No, she didn’t notice a thing until Serena called, “Sweet baby Jesus! I said apologize, not act out a movie star kiss in the middle of my boat!”
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Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.
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The Perfectly Imperfect Match is the third in Kendra C. Highley’s Suttonville Sentinels series. After reading Swinging at Love, I couldn’t wait to see if we would get Dylan’s story.
I love opposites that attract. And Dylan and Lucy are definitely opposites with an attraction that is hard to resist. From their initial encounter, we see that there’s an attraction but also the realization that they really are opposites. Add in a little brother that would rather his sister not date his coach and the odds just may not be in their favor.
I loved this perfectly imperfect match. Highley has a way with her matches. I’m looking forward to seeing what may be next in her Suttonville Sentinels.