Dear Ms. Britton,
I’d heard that Harlequin has a NASCAR themed series but had not ever tried any of them. To be honest, despite living in the heart of NASCAR country, the area where the original drivers had souped up their cars to evade the ATF agents and run their moonshine, I don’t follow the sport. When faced with watching a race, I’d rather scrub my baseboards with a toothbrush. Be that as it may, the sport is closely followed by gazillions, the drivers are fiercely followed and the faithful happily trek out each weekend to cheer them on.
I state the above about my interest in NASCAR to tell potential readers that I’m not going to be able to tell them whether or not you do a good job portraying the racing aspects of the sport or not. It all sounds good when you describe haulers, spotters, race stalls, hot passes and such but since I don’t know jack about it in the first place, you could be selling a load of bull. Or not. So, on to the rest of the book.
Vickie Bradford, lawyer from an uber rich family and wanna be sports agent, doesn’t come off well in the first chapter. In fact, I almost put the book down because of her. She starts out as a cringing, weak, whiny wuss who almost apologizes for doing her job. Namely to keep her agency’s star NASCAR driver Brandon Burke from violating the terms of his contract with the company who sponsors his race team. If Vickie wants to make it as a sports agent, she needs to get some backbone pronto.
Luckily, she manages to find what keeps her back straight fairly soon and begins to try to haul in the recalcitrant Brandon. While Vickie didn’t initially impress me much, Brandon immediately pissed me off. There are charming bad boys and there are assholes. Despite his troubled past with his abusive, money stealing father, Brandon was edging towards asshole until we learn his deep dark secret. I did have sympathy for him but still never quite understood what brought out the moron in him over and over. It was good for him that Vickie got so good at smoothing over his less than socially acceptable behavior. And that the owners of the company that sponsored him had done such an extensive background and psychological profile on him. Nice that Vickie could be told in a nutshell what his Issues are.
And are there a ton of Issues in this book. Yet almost none of them are deeply delved into at any time. Vickie is the typical nerd heroine with glasses who’s never had a long term romance, who has self esteem issues and believes no man is really attracted to her for more than her brains to help him pass an exam. But she’s still got a hot body underneath those lawyer suits. She’s also bullied by her rich parents and desperate to make it on her own. She exclaims again and again that she wants to be a success as an agent and that she loves the job but whenever she feels pressured, her immediate decision is to quit. She stands up to her controlling family one time for a period of a few weeks then, suddenly!, her father is all love and sunshine and ready to let her be. Yeah, major hardship on her – what with having a job, money and a place to live while she’s defying him – to finally do that.
Then there’s Brandon’s Issues. He’s been treated like dirt by his father, who managed Brandon’s millions right into his own bank accounts, his whole life. But one telling off at a race and amazingly Brandon is finally free of him. Vickie finds out his other secret and agrees to help him there. You do show us some of the coping mechanisms Brandon used over the years but as far as finally fixing the problem, we see precious little of that.
The mental lusting between Vickie and Brandon takes up pages but there isn’t much of a payoff. Is this because of NASCAR censorship? The conversations between the men are also very G rated. In general discussions this is fine but in the pit stalls? No swearing at all? It’s impossible to believe. I was reading our ARC so maybe some of the minor issues I noticed, such as Mr. Knight talking to his fiancee at one point then suddenly being married for a few years later in the book got cleared up. When she was in school, why would Vickie have needed to help one of the University’s star athletes pass contract law? Why would an undergrad be taking contract law?
I know Vickie hasn’t had many lovers but to be her age and refer to her relationship with Brandon as boyfriend and girlfriend smacks of high school. Then they have one fight and she goes all “why won’t you marry me?” “OMG he doesn’t want kids,” “our relationship is OVER” drama queen on his ass. They’ve only been dating/seeing each other/lovers for a few weeks fercryin’outloud.
“On the Move” is a fast read. It’s a straight contemporary. It deals with NASCAR. There are a lot of reasons why readers might be induced to pick it up and give it a try. I just wish the issues had been dealt with in a less superficial manner. When I finished it, I felt like I’d just eaten fast food. It was quick to get but ultimately less than satisfying and will be soon forgotten. C