The Game Changer was pretty good, too.
But, The Sweetest Game made me remember why I fell in love with Jack and Cassie in the first place.
4 out of 5 baseball stars for J. Sterling’s THE SWEETEST GAME.
This is the third (and final) installment in Jack & Cassie's story!
“It’s one hell of a sledgehammer to the chest when your baseball career comes to an end. It’s like you finally realize that baseball never loved you back. All the sleepless nights, the hours spent at the gym trying to stay fit, the conditioning, the training, the mental preparation, the holiday’s missed, the birthday’s passed, the memories you didn’t get to make with your family…all for what? It’s not like baseball lost any sleep over you. She didn’t stay awake for nights on end trying to figure out how to make you a better player. She didn’t care. Baseball’s a business. A sport. A game. And as much as my entire life has been wrapped up in it, it’s time to let it go.”
- Jack Carter
In The Sweetest Game, we finally see Jack trying to reconcile the two loves of his life: Cassie and Baseball. He seemed to think that he couldn’t live without either of the two. Of course, after all the shit they’ve been through in the first two books, Jack knew how much Cassie means to him and how he won’t ever survive life without his kitten. It was really beautiful to be reminded of the depth of Jack’s feelings for Cassie. J. Sterling successfully paints a picture of that beautiful kind of love. The kind that each and every romantic in the world would wish to have. The kind that, although imperfect, remains beautiful all the same.
As much as I fell in love with Jack and Cassie all over again, I can’t help but be pissed of at Jack!!!! I can’t believe how he keeps (almost) screwing everything up with Cassie. After everything they’ve been through, I would think that he has learnt his lesson. But, I guess not. I felt bad for Cassie and the pain (although not as intense or as crushing as in the first book but still painful, I guess) that Jack keeps inflicting on her.
When Jack breaks his hand and his baseball career suddenly becomes threatened, he turns into a Grade-A asshole. I swear I wanted to wring his neck for acting that way. I mean, if you've been following the series then you know that Jack’s life has always revolved around baseball. What I couldn’t grasp is how not being able to play made him ignore and treat Cassie like shit.
Eventually and as usual, Jack realizes his mistakes and grovels for Cassie’s forgiveness. It’s like a vicious cycle they cannot escape. Cassie forgives him, of course, and everybody is happy again.
What I loved about it is that we see now how far Jack and Cassie has come from their college years. There may have been a few “X months later” or “X years later” but it was very evident how mature and how adult they've grown to become. I loved Jack’s swag and everything but I think marriage mellowed him out. And that’s not a bad thing. After he reconciles with Cassie again, we get to see a softer side to Jack. It was really sweet how he dotes on Cassie.
Cassie has also come a long way from the somewhat insecure girl with trust issues she once was. I admired Cassie for her dedication to Jack. She gave up almost everything to support Jack’s dreams without any qualms for her own career. I think her love for Jack and for their starting family became the tread that held both her and Jack together. If not for Cassie’s unwavering resolve to stay with Jack come hell or high water, I don’t think we would’ve gotten the happy ending we have always wanted.
Some highlights in the book that I found particularly enjoyable to read were Melissa and Dean’s story and Chance Carter. When I started this review, I had no intention of revealing any spoilers however, please let me just say that I absolutely LOVE Jack as a dad.
Jack still had his hang ups about their parents leaving him and his brother behind. I knew this would be an issue when he and Cassie finally become parents themselves. I was not disappointed. It was evident how torn Jack was about the whole thing. Although he had no intentions of leaving Cassie and their child behind, baseball still got in the way. I was impressed with how J. Sterling handled this particular dilemma. She was able to show Jack vulnerability and at the same time, she proves how strong he is and how unfaltering is his love for Cassie and his new family. I think I fell in love with Jack Fuckin Carter all over again. This time around, I fell in love not with the BOY we meet in The Perfect Game but with the MAN he has become.
Jack and Cassie’s whole journey was one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride and I’m very happy that they found their happiness in the end. Although I’d be shelving this series once and for all, I’m thankful I got to live in their world and share their love one last time.
Kudos to J. Sterling for giving us this beautiful series. And thank you. So much.