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