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REVIEW: Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy

Dear Ms. McCarthy:

For the most part I’ve enjoyed this NASCAR inspired series quite a bit even though I’m not a stock-car racing fan and despite some of your more challenging heroines. However in “Slow Ride”, I was not able to overcome what I felt was shoddy behavior by the heroine to a somewhat flat hero character.  It was like a reverse HP. Asshole heroine and doormat hero. Maybe I should have reveled in the role reversal but mostly I just disappointed because I’ve liked this series.

Tuesday Jones is well-known blogger of the stock car racing series. Her father was a famous sports journalists and she was very close to him. The book opens with Tuesday struggling to cope with her father’s recent death. He had been diagnosed with cancer only three months before and he has always seemed been invincible to her.  That he couldn’t beat the cancer, that it took him so swiftly was a shock to her.

She ends up crying in the arms of Daniel ‘Diesel’ Lange who was her father’s favorite driver and a man whose suffered loss himself as points out the graves of his mother, younger brother, and cousin.

She copes, in part, by use of the bottle. I’m not opposed to alcoholic heroines and that wasn’t my primary problem with Tuesday.  I had problems with the depiction of Tuesday as an alcoholic.  I felt like I was supposed to see her teetering on the edge of addiction, but the story never fully committed to Tuesday as an addict.  Instead I felt like I was supposed to see her as someone who used alcohol to numb her pain but I wasn’t to ascribe any bad behaviors as a result of the alcoholism. Granted Tuesday had a lot of negative things going on her life with the loss of her father, her mother seeming to date again, all of her friends getting married.  Surely if anyone had a reason to drink, it was Tuesday.

I didn’t know if I was supposed to see her anctics while drunk as cute or funny or pathetic. I was on the pathetic side, but she never received any negative repercussions for her actions until the very end.  For instance in one of the early scenes, she’s drunk when Diesel picks her up for a date.  Diesel is unhappy about this and Tuesday says some cutting things so Diesel leaves.  He then feels bad, returns and apologizes for not being reasonable. Rinse and repeat.  This pattern of behavior repeated itself throughout the book up to and including the end.  Tuesday does have a major misstep happened late in the book but it was so close to the denouement that I felt the reader never had time to fully absorb the heroine’s redemption.

Diesel was a retired stock-car racer who had suffered a tremendous accident and injured his knee to the point that he could no longer race competitively. He was portrayed as a very easy-going guy who took everything in stride even the fact that a woman like Tuesday had the liquor herself up in order to sleep with him. He comforts her, a total stranger, at her dad’s funeral. He allows her to spit cake in his hand a few weeks later at her best friend’s wedding. He limps because of his accident but he’s not embarrassed or affected by it. He drives Tuesday home when she is too drunk to stand up.  He brings her coffee the next morning (it is true that he wants to get in her pants).  He apologizes after telling her she is too drunk. After Tuesday is angered by his suggestion that she really did not need to stop at the bar before they went home triggers another apology.  I understand that Diesel’s coolness was something he ascribed to, that he suppressed his feelings to a great extent in order to maintain his even aspect but like the alcoholism issue, I felt it was underplayed too much.  In fact, by underplaying his character, the change that was thrust upon Diesel by Tuesday seemed almost cruel rather than helpful.

Why Diesel was with Tuesday?  She wasn’t kind to him and I can’t believe that a sexy, wealthy, former celebrity would really have a hard time picking up chicks if he was so hard up for sex (and he was kind of presented that way).  What was extra disappointing was that Diesel was a nice guy and I hated the implication that nice guys are doormats who can’t get laid.   Tuesday and Diesel made sense as a couple as Tuesday was a verbal person, more outgoing, more social than Diesel but was that enough for him to put up with her? I guess so.

The best parts of this book were the fun dialogue.  I wanted to like Tuesday and when she wasn’t being mean to Diesel, I enjoyed reading about her.  I feel like your voice is very modern and Tuesday and Diesel talk like their age rather than 50 somethings. They text each other, worry about when to call, when not to call.  The dating game is a big part of the book and I always appreciate that.  I appreciated that Tuesday was a confident sexual woman. Her sexuality was not an issue of the story as it seems to be in so many contemporaries.  The bedroom play was as fun as it was sexy.  But I was ultimately frustrated by how the characters were portrayed.  C

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

17 Comments

  1. Babs
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 04:18:01

    Hmmmm…I liked this one better than you did! I really liked Diesel as a character and didn’t think of him as a doormat. Tuesday was an interesting character to me because of the alcohol issue. Overall I liked this title better than the last Fast Track novel…

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  2. Danielle D
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 05:34:51

    I have these books in my TBR pile I think I have to move them to the top.

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  3. cleo
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 08:48:31

    Thanks for the review – I didn’t realize this was out already. I’m still kind of mad about the last Fast Track book, so I’m not sure if I’m going to read this one.

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  4. kim
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 09:17:59

    This is another author that I’ve heard good things about, but I’ve never read. Perhaps this isn’t the book to start with.

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  5. Jane
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 09:48:49

    @kim: I’ve liked a lot of her stock car racing books in the past, even the last one which many people did not like. I also re-read Mouth to Mouth which features a deaf heroine and a cop. It’s a very cute, sexy read.

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  6. Kim
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 11:03:17

    @Jane Thanks for the recommendations.

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  7. JJ
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 12:14:28

    Maybe I should have reveled in the role reversal but mostly I just disappointed because I’ve liked this series.

    This make me want to read the book. I have a very high tolerance for bitchy characters. I don’t even see them as bitchy until I read reviews about how unsympathetic they are.

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  8. jeayci
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 16:23:17

    I think I may have to skip this one. I loved the first one, but have liked each of the following books a bit less than the one before it. I really disliked the heroine in the last book and this one sounds like she might be even worse. :(

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  9. Chelsea B.
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 17:36:41

    I’ve loved this author’s older books, but haven’t read her in quite some time. This series seems to be hit or miss with a lot of bloggers. At some point, I’m going to give it a try :-)

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  10. Janet W
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 11:56:07

    I searched and searched my flawed memory banks for a female alcoholic character done realistically: this comment is from the AMZ description of Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr, “Loyal readers of Carr’s Virgin River series will enjoy catching up with their favorite characters and will be intrigued by the returns of the mysterious Dan Brady and Cheryl, the former town drunk.” Your review makes me curious about how the author used an illness as — hope I’m phrasing this correctly — as a character flaw. Intriguing.

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  11. DianeN
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 10:44:45

    I gave up on this series after the second title because as a former NASCAR wife myself I know too much about the sport to find her portrayal of the characters and their lifestyle believable. I liked her writing very much, but the subject matter just didn’t work for me. I know that the author did some research before tackling NASCAR, but going to races and talking to people just isn’t the same as living in the world. Jane, I’ve read your comments about the portrayal of lawyers in Romancelandia so I know you understand what I mean!

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  12. Jane
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 10:45:56

    @DianeN: I completely understand!

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  13. Praxidike
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 17:45:18

    Okay, I read this even though it got a C review. I should have known better. This heroine came off as completely unlikeable to me, even though she supposedly cleaned up her act in the end. I did actually like the hero, but my liking for him was simply not enough to make me like the book itself. In fact, there was a point where I considered not finishing it (it was right before the heroine betrayed the hero in a really awful way, and I could tell where the book was going and didn’t like it) but ultimately slogged through to the end.

    Moreover, the writing just wasn’t good. I found it interesting that Jane complimented the author on sounding modern. To me, her characters all sounded wooden and, frankly, like the author was trying too hard to make the characters sound “cool” or “with it.” Yes, they’re agonizing about whether to call, but that’s about the only “modern” thing in this book. Finally, there were a LOT of errors in this book. One I can recall off the top of my head is where the author clearly intended to use the word “excellent”, but instead used “excellence.” It definitely suffered from a lack of copy editing (and maybe editing in general).

    I’d also like to comment on the fact that the book was, to me, very sexist and fell into those typical tropes. The author clearly TRIED to stay away from that because she made the hero dominant “only” in the bedroom. But the characters’ internal monologues belied that attempt because basically everything Tuesday thought had to do with Diesel’s masculinity, and Diesel had similar thoughts. I believe there’s one scene in the book where one man calls another one a “pussy” and tells him to “man up.” Give me an effing break, people. When are we going to finally stop using these kinds of terms, which are not only sexist but also imply that there is some kind of ideal “man” who has, as they say, successfully “manned up.” Based on that alone, I would have given this book a C.

    I don’t know if I’ll buy any more books in this series. It really isn’t doing it for me, and my dislike for the book made the sex scenes fairly boring and predictable. I give this one a C- or D.

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  14. Jane
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 19:13:58

    @Praxidike I don’t know about the errors as I read the ARC. I assume, maybe naively, that the errors are corrected. In regard to the contemporary or modern voice of the story, yes, I do think it was but then again, I’m not in my 20s so perhaps younger people sound different? Their method of communication, texting, frex, seemed modern. The way in which they conducted their courtship, their interaction with their friends, all seemed to skew under 40 which is modern for me. I suppose it’s subjective.

    But I did not view it as sexist at all. In fact, I felt that the lack of agnst on Tuesday’s refreshing embrace of her own sexuality as non sexist and I’m not sure how Tuesday’s thoughts about Diesel’s sexuality makes it sexist. I’m confused by that. The gendering of insults is probably sexist but overall, Tuesday was her own woman albeit one with a drinking problem but that wasn’t a result of some sexist overtone. At least it didn’t read that way to me.

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  15. nitnot
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 02:10:50

    I had the same feeling, Jane. I couldn’t understand what makes Tuesday attractive to Diesel, and when Diesel didn’t call her bullshit (or not enough) I gave up all respect for him. There was no redemption of what her character did in the story, how Diesel got over his fear of driving a race car was completely shortchanged. I feel like I wasted my money on this one.

    I liked the first book, but the ones after (even Ryder and Suzanne) even with promising premise in the end just fell flat for me. I actually miss her earlier books! I hope she won’t be another JQ for me.

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  16. Jane
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 08:56:51

    @nitnot I think her earlier books were the most fun but I still like her. I guess there doesn’t seem to be a decent replacement for McCarthy for me. Fun dialogue, sexy contemporary. Julie James is fun but not terribly sexy. Deirdre Martin is contemp but generally not funny or very sexy. Toni Blake’s contemps skew too sweet and too old for me. I’m not a fan of the smal town community books. Got any recs?

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  17. nitnot
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 22:55:31

    I have a few on my list, but these are older books, because frankly lately it’s been so hard to find contemporary authors that works for me. For example, none of the authors you mentioned works for me. *ducks*

    Julia London’s early contemporaries were great for me. Michelle Jerrott/Albert was one of my first romance, and I wish she’d write more books like A Great Catch, because that will hold a piece of my heart for as long as it wants. Content-wise it was heavier, but when the hero & heroine banters it was hella fun.

    http://www.inkalicious.com/ex-agc.html

    Candace Schuler was, in my opinion, the original Lorelei James. She was my first Harlequin Blaze and it is amazing what she could do with such a limited amount of pages.

    I wish I’d found more, but to be honest I have been inching away from romance because some of my auto buy doesn’t work for me anymore, and I am reluctant to try out the newer authors because, as I said, none have worked out for me.

    I hope some of these works for you, and maybe you should bring back “If you like…. Erin Mccarthy” feature! ;)

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