Living in Santa Isabella, home of the five-time College World Series champs, The Quakes, Evie has grown up loving baseball. Her dad has been the head coach for as long as she can remember and her happiest memories were on the baseball diamond. But baseball broke her heart, in more ways than one, and she'll do anything to avoid it.
Now Evie is in college and she can't avoid baseball anymore. Working for her dad brings her face-to-face with Austin Young, the new shortstop who has transferred in from Texas. Austin throws her off her game with his dedication to baseball and his irresistible Southern charm. The chemistry between them is undeniable and Evie finds herself falling for the baseball player
But Evie has her own secrets that are holding her back and they just might cause baseball to break her heart all over again.
Sara is a young adult and new adult fiction writer. She has worked as smoothie artist, Disneyland cast member, restaurant supervisor, photographer, nanny, pizza delivery driver, and barista but writing is what she loves most. She has an obsession with reading, baseball, cupcakes, tattoos, running and peach green iced teas. She runs her own nerd girl/book review blog, What A Nerd Girl Says. She lives in Southern California with her boyfriend and her two cats, Kaz and Kai.
Her debut novel, The Awakened, was released in December of 2015, and was her first successful NaNoWriMo novel. The sequel, The Sanctuary, was published January 2017. Both books were relaunched in June 2020. Her debut new adult romance, Benched, will be released in September of 2020.
She is currently working on a young adult fantasy called Legacy and the untitled sequel to Benched.
I loved Benched! The story was so much fun with the Santa Isabella background filled with baseball. The characters are well developed and I found myself flying through the chapters to see where the story was going to go. I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy to see where Evie, Austin, Drew, Sydney , Lucy and the Quakes go. If you enjoy a fun story with baseball, love and fun pick this book!
The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was the passion both Evie and Austin had for baseball. I think in some sports romances that the romance is front and center and the sport is just an afterthought. I feel like Benched had the perfect balance of romance and baseball. Speaking of romance, I adored Austin and Evie together! I could feel their chemistry from the first meeting and I liked how their relationship progressed. The only minor issue I had with this aspect of the story was that there was a situation that I think went on a tad too long. There was also several grammar errors throughout the book but nothing too bad. Other than that I enjoyed all other aspects of the book. The storyline was good, the romance was great, and I can’t wait to see Evie’s best friends, Sydney and Drew, find their happily ever after!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
I never cared so much about baseball in my life. The main character Evie has a passion for it... well, she did, up until three years ago when she had her heart broken and swore off everything baseball, which is hard to do when your dad is the university’s baseball coach of a small all-things-baseball town. The thing is, she also suffered in silence to spare her twin sister from the same heartbreak. Along the way her two best friends find out and encourage Evie to move on in all sorts of fun ways, but it’s hard to move on when baseball and a certain baseball boy is so entangled into her family. This boy is awful in all the wrong ways. He is a narcissist. He is controlling, and manipulating and doesn’t even deserve his name in this post. I just want to Ju Do roll him over my shoulder and kick him in his baseballs while he is down. Insert Austin, the sexy cowboy who joins the team as a junior, and brings with him all sorts of fun ways for Evie to get in trouble that will help her move on. I like the cowboy. He has the true southern gentleman mama’s boy charm mixed with that rugged knocking boots sex appeal. What I love most about this book, is how real and relatable this heartbreak is. How dangerously real the manipulative behavior is. This book shows you how easy it is for young girls to fall into emotionally abusive relationships, and how hard it is for them to get out of them.
Favorite descriptive quote: “Salt from the sea breeze is present with every new breath, and sometimes I think it looks like something out of a Hollywood movie,”
I can taste the salt in the air with that quote. I can feel the breeze run through my hair. I miss living in California and my favorite small town beach city. This brings it back.
Favorite shout out quote: “We won the college world series twice in a row, but we lost last year, against Vanderbilt and Dad is still super pissed about it.”
VANDYYYYYY!!!!!! I live down the street from Vanderbilt now. Reading this was like my old life and my new life colliding!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
A fun, fresh, fast-paced romance to compliment my favorite time of the year. Benched is highly recommended to fans of YA.
Benched has a huge crossover appeal and kind of blurs that vague line between YA and NA, and the romance certainly falls on the side of the later.
I’m a baseball fan, but you don’t need to know anything about the sport to enjoy the story. The MC character, Evie, describes the action on the field in an accessible way as she navigates through freshman year at a smaller Cal State campus and all the challenges that go with it. Baseball serves as a symbol of Evie’s past heartbreak and how we sometimes cut the things we love from our lives in an effort to heal and move on, or as a way to stop regretting a dream we left behind, but ignoring something that makes us happy due to negative association will only cause more pain in the long run.
It’s particularly challenging when Evie’s dad is the headcoach of her college team, the Quakes (amazing name btw), she lives in a “baseball town” (I totally relate to this), and she works as the team assistant and is thinking of being a sports writer (more on this below). There’s just no escape, and it’s smothering.
At first Evie tries to ignore baseball as much as she can in her position, but she gets star-struck by Austin, the shortstop for the Quakes, who is a great mirror to Jesse, the cause of the drama and heartbreak, the boyfriend of Evie’s sister, and the type of guy who thrives off conflict. Many of us have experienced toxic attraction and difficulties moving on from someone we care for that turns out to be an emotional vampire, whether intentional or not. In this case it feels intentional and manipulative, which makes the contrast of Austin’s Kentucky charms even more appealing.
Evie’s involvement with the Quakes and determination to succeed in a man’s world is also highlighted. In many ways, the Quake’s struggle is her struggle. I won’t go into heavy spoilers, but it’s clear early on that sports journalism is more of her dad’s wish for her. Like so many of us, Evie wants to follow her dreams and shape her destiny, not sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by.
Author Sara Elizabeth Santana does a great job weaving Evie's internal conflict and the romance together and using the baseball scenes to build character moments. While Evie THINKS she wants to swear off baseball forever, she really just wants to be an active part of the game again and experience the magic of the sport without being sucked into Jesse’s drama or her Dad’s attempt to reign in her natural talent and passion, and Evie struggling to reconcile these two opposing ideas is at the heart of Benched.
For full transparency: I received a free eARC of this book from the author via Booksprout.
If you're looking for that perfect summer romance, Benched is it. There are a number of deeper issues given great consideration and reflection in this book - self-confidence, the burden of family obligations, all the expectations and pressures accompanying any college freshman finding their new place in the the testing ground of academia (and, in Evie's case, also on the ballfield) - but they don't become so weighty that the plot is dragged down. Because interspersed in those harder topics are all the fun, cute moments you want from a sports romance. The antics and dynamics of a team, the sometimes delirious struggle of balancing work and classes and playing on a highly competitive sports team that leads to moments of pressure release at parties and boardwalks and family get-togethers...and yes, even sometimes a steamy scene or two that will keep you turning pages far into the wee hours of the night. This is a book with real depth...and real fun. It is a book that is for an NA audience...but also reminds those of us slightly older than NA readers, of our own follies, exhilarations, and joys of first love...and how we can sometimes, if we are brave enough, find ourselves BECAUSE we didn't end up with what we thought we wanted, but what we needed.
(Psst...I am also not into sports at all, so if you aren't either, don't let that deter you. Sara, the Patron Saint of YA and well-immersed in fandom culture, walks you into the shallow end, capturing instead the love of the game, and the excitement and energy of baseball in a way that is both familiar and refreshing.)
I absolutely loved this book! I couldn’t put it down! From the very beginning I was hooked with the author’s writing style! There is so much detail about the individual characters and their experiences/situations! I could literally picture this book taking place in my mind as I was reading it! The main character Evie is a strong, independent young adult who is trying to prove herself in a male dominated world! She is trying to overcome her past even though she is met with reminders everyday. And then comes Austin, an immediate distraction, but so much more! I loved the ratio of romance and baseball in this book. I will definitely be recommending this to all my book buddies! And I can’t wait to read the next book, Struck Out!
An enjoyable and engaging story that had some memorable moments in it. It hit home to me personally so I was engaged from the beginning. Great characters, great dialogue, great emotions and truly wonderful story.
Loved it! I've always enjoyed hot romance novels and this one is certainly 🔥! Watch out for Chapter 11 - you may want to turn your A/C up! The characters are engaging and I enjoyed the baseball storyline, it being my favorite sport! I find myself looking forward to the next installment, I want to get to know Sydney, she definitely sparks my curiosity. Good, tight storyline. I've read this author's earlier novels and there is a delightful improvement in descriptive scenes. Great book!
I absolutely adored this book! Evie is such an interesting person and is surrounded by amazing and supportive people. Austin is so ridiculously perfect, as soon as he appears he is so easy to love. I don't often read contemporary romance but I definitely think I can get into Sports Romance if they are anywhere near as good as this is!
Buy this book, read it! It's seriously so good! I blew through the last half of it in an afternoon.
Rating 4.5 stars. I'm not a big baseball fan, but I really enjoyed this story and actually learned a few things about the sport. Austin and Evie had great chemistry together, both on and off the field. I also really wanted to bash Jesse...what a manipulative jerk! Evie's history with Jesse affected her love for baseball and that was something she had to work through in the book. I look forward to the second book in this trilogy.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I super enjoyed it and read it within like two days. I couldn’t put it down.
I am a big romance reader and love reading romance stories. Though I have never read a sports romance before. I was always afraid that I would need to know how the sports work, which I only know the basic info about them. That’s one of the things I loved about this book. As I read it I was told enough about the sport in the book to understand it without getting lost.
I loved the characters in this book. I loved Evie, Austin, Drew, Sydney and enjoying the side characters. I really enjoyed Evie’s character and watching her interact with the characters. I wanted her to get the happy ending she deserved. I wanted her dream, her wants, to be achieved. I was swept away by Austin. I fell for him as soon as he got on the page.
The relationship between Evie and Austin was done perfectly. I wanted to keep going to see where their relationship would go, what kind of relationship they would have and just how they fit together. I loved reading them building each other up and helping each other.
Something I want to mention, this is a new adult romance. There are sex scenes, which are well written and perfectly placed in the book. It doesn’t feel like those scenes come out of know where.
The book was a really fast read. The writing was well done.
I highly recommend reading this book. If you enjoy romance-especially sport romances-and new adult books, then read this book. It’s really good and romance lovers should read it.
Happy reading! --------------------------------------------------------------------------- I loved this book so much. The characters were well done. The romance was perfect. I finished this book within two days. I just couldn't put it down. If you enjoy a great romance with some steamy scenes and baseball, then I highly recommend pre-ordering this book or getting it when I comes out. *full review to come close to release date* Recieved an ARC from booksprout and gave an honest review.
Ummm... What can I say?!?! Benched.... Hmmm. 🤔 In two words, loved it! I enjoyed the setting and the characters. The story flowed smoothly, but, of course, these characters had their ups and downs... What do one expect from these college students in a college town with baseball as the "center of their universe." Haha! Anyways, I enjoyed how much of "family" was brought into the story. I can imagine various readers would be able to relate to any of these characters. That's what makes it so good! The realism that Sara brought on to these pages.
Moreover, I enjoyed the baseball aspect in the story as well. I am in no way a die-hard baseball fan, but Sara dives into the sport with a lot of love and appreciation for the sport. For those non-baseball people out there (I am one of them), Benched does give the reader(s) a glimpse of the sport and the people that love it. Believe me, baseball does not overshadow the story at all.
I am trying and thinking really hard to not say too much... that would lead to spoilers... Haha! And, I don't like ruining it for others. Anyways, if you are looking for a light-hearted and fun romance, then get Benched. Sara has written a well-balanced story of baseball, romance, family, and college life in her debut New Adult novel.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion. Really enjoyed this book it had some ups and downs, I wanted to strangle Evie occasionally but this book is what I needed to take my mind off of real life for a few hours because once I got started I couldn't stop.
*DISCLAIMER I received a free copy of an ARC via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review*
A grand slam of a book! Fantastic mix of romance, drama, baseball, and friendships! It had me screaming, crying, fanning myself, and cheering as the words of Evie Cordova swept me in to the world of Santa Isabella and Quakes baseball. The way the story and drama unraveled left me wanting more and turning the page for more. I finished the book and wanted more, more about the Quakes, the players, and Evie's friends and family.
WOW! Way to go, Sara! The story of Evie and Austin is captivating from the moment they are introduced and it was nearly impossible to put down. Benched dives into the complicated relationship that Evie has with baseball and its players. Her struggle with continuing to love something that has been a source of so much pain in the past is quite relatable, and Evie, Austin, and Jesse are all so very real in their own ways. I loved Benched and cannot wait to see what's in store for everybody!
Benched is finally here, and you are not going to want to miss this addictive baseball romance. This steamy book pulled me in, and I couldn't put it down until the very last page! The only thing Evie Cordova wants to do more than ignore baseball completely is to be out there on the field playing the game with her college team, the Quakes—who are essentially royalty in her small college town. But she's sworn off playing, and involving herself with the likes of baseball players who are sure to break her heart. But when she meets Austin Young, a sexy shortstop transfer with a knee-weakening accent and even more powerful kisses, she begins to wonder if she should swear off all baseball players, or just the one who hurt her in the first place. This is definitely an NA book, not YA, with some very racy scenes, so don't go out and buy it for your little sister who loves baseball lol
Once again Sara wrote a really good book. It's a easy and smooth reading. That's what I like about her writing. It flows smoothly and makes it easy to read. The story slowly builds and then it gets to a point that you can't put the book down. I usually don't read adult romance but Benched was really good. Great story, great characters. The way she describes everything makes you like you're there in Santa Isabella. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND BENCHED
I reeeeeally enjoyed the baseball aspect of this book - brought back fun memories. The dedication to dad made me laugh and then blush like crazy reading some of those caliente scenes lol The read was easy and allowed me to fly through, always wanting to know just what the hell Evie's gotten herself into next.
You know that book that you really want to like but just can’t? Or maybe the one that has so much suspense that even if you don’t like it, you want to read it? That was this book for me. It just didn’t intrigue me. I wanted to like it because of all the things that were happening but it just felt too dramatic. One more thing, I’m a teen and I know for a fact that this book went a little overload. There were a couple of mature scenes and language. Not saying that I haven’t seen it before but it seemed as it was more of an adult novel. Back to the dramatic thing. They are in college! There was a bit too much happening at once making it so that I just couldn’t enjoy certain aspects of it. If you go to buy this book, read a couple more reviews.
I wrote this voluntary review in exchange for an ARC copy.