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REVIEW: Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy

Dear Ms. McCarthy:

You are fast becoming one of my go to authors. This was a fun, sweet, and very sexy romance. I want more of these. Russ Evans has been trying to track down a fraudster, Trevor Dean, who is preying on women in online dating forums. He romances them, takes their money, and leaves them heartbroken and poor. Russ and his partner believe that Trevor is set to meet a new victim, one Laurel Wilkins. Except Laurel is different than the others which makes Russ wonder if she is not Trevor’s accomplice.

The setup is cute. Laurel and Russ are both waiting for her blind date to show up. When it seems like Laurel is about to get stood up, Russ goes inside the coffee shop to warm up and take a closer look at the vic/accomplice. Once inside, Laurel spots him and greets him like he’s her date. And apparently he is because Trevor masqueraded as Russ online.

“How the hell did she know his name, he wondered as he watched her walk. And how had she poured herself into those black pants? That was one beautiful backside. Which was probably the point. Maybe her job was to lure him, confuse him, distract him with sex.

It wasn’t going to work. Or at least not completely. He was only slightly distracted.”

Once Russ learns that Laurel is indeed a potential victim, albeit one that got stood up, he immediately starts to lecture her on safe dating practices. This leads Laurel to tell him baldly that she’s not interested in a relationship but just good sex. Laurel is deaf and she’s been in a cocoon of her own making for the last five years. She had set off to college, encouraged by her father, but when he died, she returned home, leaving a vibrant deaf community behind. She’s tired of living tentatively and would like to get out, meet people, and have some fun.

Russ is horrified. Laurel reminds him of cotton candy, sugary and delicate; a bunny in fact. He can’t see her out there amongst the ravening wolves. It’s funny to see Russ project his own desires on all men out there “She was so damn appealing, Russ wanted to take advantage of her himself.”

Russ is no gentleman. He’s into casual sex and no emotional ties. He’s trying to raise his rebellious brother after his parents died suddenly and, as he tells Laurel, he’s giving everything to his brother, Sean, and he has nothing left.

It was both easy to remember and hard to remember that Laurel had any disability which made Laurel pitch perfect to me. Granted I am not deaf so I might be talking out of my ass here. What I mean by that is Laurel reads like any other heroine only she has mannerisms affected by her disability. For example, she looks down as an avoidance technique so she can’t see what people are saying (she’s a lip reader).

Her deafness provides some funny moments at the expense of Russ. When Laurel tells Russ she can smell him, he smells himself but only smells soap. Another time, Laurel explains that she tried to call him, but he didn’t have TTY. “I’m sorry.” Jesus, what an ass he was. He’d given his phone number to a deaf woman. Clearly he hadn’t reached detective by his intelligence alone. “Why were you calling?”

The interaction between Russ and his partner was very funny, very male. (or at least what I presume males would sound like).

Russ stared at Jerry as his partner about fell into his lap trying to pull the latch on the passenger door, opening it. “What the hell is your problem? Get off of me.”
“Get out.” Jerry reached toward his thigh.

Knocking Jerry’s hand away, Russ shifted toward the door, a little unnerved. “Anders, touch me and I’ll be forced to hit you.”

Jerry snorted and unlocked Russ’s seat belt. “You can only wish I’d cop a feel off you. Now get out of the car before I shove your dumb ass in the snow.”

You want to tell me what’s going on?”

“You’re making me crazy, that’s what. Every day you make me drive by Blondie’s house three, four times while you stare out the window, drooling. Get out of the car, knock on the door, ask her out. Get yourself laid, before I smack the shit out of you.”

Laurel and Russ were totally adorable. I even liked that their first time wasn’t all hearts and roses (lack of communication). The story is quick paced, the dialogue funny and the sex scenes, make sure the ice tray is loaded up. The conflict is the problem. Russ was both overprotective of Laurel because of his nature and her disability. But we were also to believe that Laurel was simply too rich for him. The former conflict was better integrated into the story but neither was dealt with effectively in the end. At the close of the book, all hesitations regarding class differences or Laurel’s need for independence v. Russ’ need for her to be a safe little bunny disappeared with little resolution. It was disappointing, but not enough of a bother to deter me from reading this book again. B

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Cathy
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 06:53:31

    Thanks, Jane. I really enjoyed some other books by McCarthy, but haven’t checked out much of her backlist. For under $5 for the e-book, I’ll definitely be downloading this one.

  2. Leeann Burke
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 07:25:43

    I read this book ages ago and loved it. The new cover is much better this time around. Ms. McCarthy is on my auto buy list. I can’t wait for her next book.

    Cathy I’m sure you’ll truly enjoy it.

  3. Patty L.
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 07:35:18

    I read this book when it originally came out and loved it. I agree with Leeann the cover this time is much better. The first one had fish in a martini glass on the cover.

    Erin is an auto buy for me and has been since I met her at a booksigning in Maryland. She was a Nora Roberts annual spring signing. I picked up her book Smart Mouth because the title caught my attention. LOL My favorite contemporary title of hers is still Houston We Have A Problem. That book sold me for life as a Erin McCarthy fan. BTW she has a YA book that is great and my daughter loved it.

  4. sallahdog
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 07:41:27

    TTY is becoming less popular with the rise of text messaging, at least with younger deaf teens…. Went to a theme park recently with a group of deaf teens and found that even when they are close to you, they would prefer to text, rather than try to speak… It was ingenius really, since I didn’t know sign language and one of the girls wasn’t a good lip reader…

  5. Lou
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 07:54:52

    I loved the Fast Track books, but haven’t yet read any of her other work.

    Looks like I’m taking a visit to BOB to purchase Mouth to Mouth. :)

  6. Shannon Stacey
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 09:33:32

    I loved this book! Not quite as much as I loved Flat-Out Sexy and Hard and Fast, but pretty close.

    During the entire build-up to the first sex scene I was anticipating the hotness of his making her look at him so he could talk dirty to her and she didn’t let me down.

    Loved the secondary romance, as well. Almost as much as the primary.

    And the guys in the candy store cracked me up.

  7. Lori
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 09:56:37

    Oh. Must buy.

  8. CupK8
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 12:57:34

    This is going onto my list – a good one to have on the laptop, methinks. :) Thanks, Jane!

  9. Maili
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 14:06:20

    I got this book years ago. A Brava trade, I think, and it was a DNF.

    It wasn’t because of the quality of writing or such, but because I couldn’t accept it was yet another “oh, s/he can lip-read everything and so easily” stereotype/misconception.

    When I was reading M2M, I occasionally wondered, “She’s managed to understood that without a frame of reference? And from a stranger, to boot?” (It usually takes some time for a deaf lip-reader to learn a person’s style of speaking before they could lip-read with reasonably ease. Show me a deaf or HOH person who claims that she or he could lip-read anyone under any circumstances, I’ll show you a liar. :D)

    I can’t remember why I gave up early, though. I didn’t think M2M was a bad book. I think I just wasn’t patient enough to go for the ‘let’s pretend she could hear a bit’ scenario. I think I’ve learnt to be more patient and flexible now, so I’ll buy a copy.

  10. sallahdog
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 14:33:53

    I think after having been more exposed to the deaf culture books where the deaf character was able to lip read easily and never miss words would probably bother me too…

    I am working with a foster right now who has a cochliar ear implant (so she now has some hearing) and the ability to lip read and still there is miscommunication between us because I can’t sign…. she finds signing to be the easiest, but also the most understandable…

    If you think about it, we have a lot of slang in our spoken word, that doesn’t translate into sign language… she often has to ask for clarification…

    Not a comment on this book, more just some interesting stuff I never knew before this summer…

  11. Trish
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 14:35:38

    I read this book when it first came out several years ago and I really enjoyed it. “Cute” is the word I also found myself using to describe their relationship. I also loved the secondary romance – too funny.

    As to her never missing a word when lip reading, I seem to recall that all the time she thought he was calling her “honey” he was actually calling her “Bunny” and she didn’t figure it out until late in the book.

  12. Maili
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 15:10:09


    If you think about it, we have a lot of slang in our spoken word, that doesn't translate into sign language… she often has to ask for clarification…

    :D Not surprisingly because a sign language isn’t the “signing version” of the English (or whatnot) language. It’s a language in its own right, so there is quite a few signs that one cannot translate into English and vice versa. The only thing that a sign language and a spoken/written language have in common is the alphabet through fingerspelling.

    In other words, deaf people who are sign language users and speakers/writers are effectively bilingual.

    You’ve made a very good point about TTY (or minicoms/text phones in the UK) and mobile/cell phones. Deaf people are usually among the first to take advantage of technological innovations; anything that could allow them to be as independent as possible.

    When pagers went on sale during early 1980s, quite a few deaf people bought them. Mobile phones during mid-1980s? It was a huge hit. There was one I knew who sacrificed his annual family holiday to purchase four brick phones for himself and his deaf family. Nowadays, I don’t know a deaf person who doesn’t own a mobile phone and it’s been like this since early 1990s.

    Not surprisingly as, for many, it’s their lifeline. Instant messenging programs, Skype (the most popular form of a video phone), smart phones with email function, mini computers, etc. — almost all of them have those as well.

    Sorry for going off-topic.

  13. rebyj
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 19:47:24

    This book is on my list too. But I had to mention the cover. It looks like he’s about to spit on her to me. Or I just have way too many traumatic memories of a childhood with 3 brothers LOL

  14. Miki S
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 21:37:26

    This was my first Erin McCarthy…but because of it, it definitely was not my last!

  15. Diana
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 22:57:45

    I read this book when it first came out and loved it. I’m a big fan of Erin McCarthy’s books. My favorite is Heiress for Hire.

  16. che
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 23:33:54

    I read this a few years back as well and loved it. As a deaf person myself, I thought the author did a pretty good job of integrating deaf culture and other deafisms into the story. She gets kudos for mentioning Gallaudet University at all. The finger-writing on the hero’s back was a nice touch. However, she did make a little boo-boo. There was a time or two when the heroine wanted to call the hero at work, but couldn’t because his workplace didn’t have TDDs (or TTYs). I immediately thought “Relay Service!”

    Count me in as among those annoyed that every deaf heroine has super excellent lipreading/speech skills. Just once I would like to see a heroine who was only so-so at both. Think of all the misunderstandings that could ensue, and the hilarity from same.

  17. abby
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 04:59:27

    I love Erin McCarthy and i thought this was a really cute book , but i like the old cover with the goldfish better.

  18. Karen Scott
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 05:31:54

    A romance about a deaf girl? I’m sold! Off to Book Depository!

  19. Karen Scott
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 05:35:31

    Geez, I already have this book, I even read it, but for some reason, can’t recall the actual story. Oops.

  20. Edie
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 06:34:03

    ROFLMFAO at Karen – I did something very similar when I first read this review.. I think if the original cover had been up I would have clicked quicker.. lol

  21. tracyleann
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 09:28:03

    I read this book when it first came out and loved it. I'm a big fan of Erin McCarthy's books. My favorite is Heiress for Hire.

    Huh. Just goes to show we’re all different. Erin McCarthy was my go-to contemporary author for the longest time. I loved Houston We Have a Problem, liked Smart Mouth and Mouth to Mouth only a tiny bit less, and really enjoyed some of her other books and stories (You Don’t Know Jack, the early Vegas Vampires books). But I picked up Heiress for Hire, couldn’t get into it at all, and haven’t touched her books since. Maybe I need to give her latest two a chance…

    (And I preferred the original cover, too)

  22. Cathy
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 09:47:54

    Finished this book last night, and enjoyed it. “Cute” is a great way to describe it. I agree with the review that the issues between Russ and Laurel were resolved a bit too quickly at the end, especially the issue of Russ being so overprotective.

    I’m not deaf, and don’t know anyone who is, so I found the parts about choosing between being a speaking deaf person or a signing deaf person (do I have that right?) and the education involved interesting, as well as the fact that ASL has its own grammer – I had always thought it was just signed English. I found those parts of the story informative, without getting info-dumpy, which was nice.

  23. Heidi
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 21:25:04

    I love this book. I read it several years ago after I somehow found Erin. I then glommed onto her backlist and read all of her stuff, anthologies and all. I think “Smart Mouth” is my favorite, as well as the anthology story about the agent’s sister from that book. I really wish she could write more about the New York friends (4 friends) –“The Pregnancy Test” and “If You Know Jack” which are great. Unfortunately, she can’t finish the other 2 friends on the list yet because of issues with the pub. ACK! That’s one of Erin’s great qualities–she links her books!!! I also agree with someone else–I love “Houston, We Have A Problem”

  24. Moth
    Aug 02, 2009 @ 16:06:21

    I picked this up from my local library. I thought it was very good reading junk food. I share a lot of the other commenters frustration that she was SO good at lip-reading.

    One thing I really had an issue with was the scene where Russ pulls her out of the nightclub. Ok, he sees a guy drugging her drink and he’s a cop and he just lets the guy go?! With no other follow-up or anything? I mean, if a guy slips something into a girl’s drink once he’ll try it again on some other girl later and Russ is content to just knock the guy down and let him walk away? That just really bugged me. I finally had to tell myself that Russ was just having an overactive imagination because I couldn’t live with him as a hero if he let a potential date-rapist just walk away.

    Other than that one scene, though, I thought this was a pretty good, nice little read. I’ve got “Houston” on order at the library now. Can’t wait.

    ETA: And in the great cover debate I really like the new one much better. The fish in martini glass is just kind of a WTF?

  25. NAC 2009 – Erin McCarthy
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 12:33:24

    […] read Erin McCarthy’s Mouth to Mouth on the recommendation of Jane from Dear Author via a few twitter postings she made. I’m pretty sure I’ve read and enjoyed some of […]

  26. Stephine Loveless
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 12:25:42

    I love this book when i read it i cant seem to put it down. thank you for writing this amazing story.

  27. Mil
    May 26, 2011 @ 08:32:00

    I enjoyed reading this book as well as the other Erin Mccarthy books! :) Some of my friends found the book too sensual, but I think it’s what makes Erin unique from other authors. Erin makes you feel the passion and the love felt by the characters for each other, it’s touching. Can’t wait for her next book! :)

  28. Romances and Deaf Characters - Dear Author
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 04:01:03

    […] See Jane’s review of the 2009 reissued edition here to find out why it won a B grade off her. […]

  29. Reading List for Jane, Ending October 4, 2011 - Dear Author
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 10:28:42

    […] Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy. This was a reread after the post by Maili regarding deaf characters. I really like the story and I thought that McCarthy did a good job of showing some of the challenges of a deaf person. There are a lot of things that McCarthy got wrong as pointed out by Maili. I didn’t recognize those so they didn’t affect the reading experience for me but I can see how it would be a challenge for someone who was hearing-impaired to be fully satisfied with the rendering.  Full review here. […]

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