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REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy

I’ve mentioned before that the contemporary romances that doesn’t feature vampires, campy vampires, werewolves, immortal peril, mortal peril, suspense out the wahoo, or extraordinary extraterrestrial extraneous circumstances seem to be fewer and far between. Every now and again I hear declarations that the contemporary romance is a dying subgenre and it’s harder and harder to find, and that if you’re not an established name, you’ll never get anywhere, because fewer people want to read contemporary romance.

So when Sarah and I read Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy, we were both blathering to each other about how awesome it was and how refreshing to have actual conflict between people caused by realistic tension stemming from ordinary life experiences between two marvelous characters. Contemporary romance done right? More please! So, following this review, read more about a multi-level contest sponsored by Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Berkeley and Erin McCarthy, a contest we hope will be a semi-regular feature here and at Smart Bitches where we try to Save the Contemporary.


Dear Ms. McCarthy:

I have a confession to make and it might not be one you want to hear.   I know that when you first started out, you wrote funny sexy contemporaries, then you branched out a bit and wrote funny sexy contemporaries featuring vampires.   Then you branched out even more and wrote serious contemporaries featuring various immortal beings and those books, well, they just didn’t appeal to me as much as your light hearted contemporaries.   So I admit that it was with some glee that I received Flat Out Sexy.   I recall reading this book and thinking it was a lot of fun. I hadn’t thought about it again.

Then SB Sarah emailed me about the book with an “Ohmigod, this is great”, it began an exchange of “and wasn’t this a great scene when she wondered if she was a cougar?” and wasn’t it funny when Ryder told the two of them that he was running out of properties for them to have sex on? I ended up reading the book a second time and enjoyed it just as much as the first. Straight contemporaries seem to be a dying breed and I’m always glad to through my support behind a good one.

Tamara Briggs is a thirty-two year old widow with two small kids.   Her deceased husband of a famous stock car driver who died in a crash.   She’s still, reluctantly part of the racing scene, because her in-laws but if she remarries, it will be to a “man with a regular nine-to-five job, who came home for dinner, and who cut the grass on the weekend. A man who didn’t drive around the track at one hundred and eighty-five miles an hour every weekend, tempting fate.”

Of course, who would rev up her engine but young driver, Elec Monroe.   Elec is younger than Tamara, and is the son of a racing legend, Elliott Monroe.   He had been part of the racing scene since a youth.   Initially, I think Elec is drawn to Tamara because of an aura that he thinks she exudes. He uses descriptions such as “classy, elegant, sophisticated.”   I wondered if this was an early signal to readers to prepare them that Elec was going to be emotionally ready for Tamara because the reader has to overcome the suspension of disbelief that a young man who is living a fast and glamorous life would want to settle down with a woman six years his senior.   It wasn’t hard to believe that Elec had fallen hard for Tamara.   She was a great mother, a good friend, and a caring daughter.     Plus, Elec was clearly over the moon in lust with Tamara.   I appreciated that Elec was written with a youthful touch, that there wasn’t an attempt to make him sound older or more mature and that he still acted impulsively at times.   It made their relationship more genuine and believable.

I know very little about Nascar other than having watched that bad Will Farrell movie, Talledega Nights and some special on RVs on the HGTV network which included a segment about souped up RVs for famous Nascar folks.   There were enough details in the story to make it sound authentic to me but a Nascar fan might disagree. While the book doesn’t mention “Nascar”, I just inserted it automatically since it was about pro stock car racing.

It was great fun to watch the older Tamara run like hell after their one night stand and have to bluster about it not being a one night stand when called on it by Elec.   In a nice role reversal, Tamara really does want to just have sex with Elec only he doesn’t want that and once he gets an inkling that is all she’s interested in, he takes the opportunity to set her straight.

I appreciated that Tamara’s former husband wasn’t demonized.   He fit the stereotypical athlete but not in terms of womanizing.   He was more addicted to the thrill and the fame and less addicted to his family.   One element that wasn’t explored a great deal was why Elec was different; what was it about his personality or his upbringing or his past (which actually seemed very similar to the deceased husband) that made him less interested in the trappings of a successful race car driver.

Another element that didn’t seem to get adequate attention was the Hatfield/McCoy storyline that was raised between Elec’s family and Tamara’s inlaws, both racing powerhouses.   The “secret” of the feud was never revealed.   It was unclear why it wasn’t revealed either.

Probably the greatest strength of this book besides the sexiness (and yes, it is super sexy) is the humor, so I’ll end the review with a couple of excerpts.   This is a   scene from the morning after the one night stand:

She flushed, feeling the heat rise up her neck and into her cheeks. “It’s not what it looks like,” she said to Ryder, which was perhaps the stupidest thing she had ever said in her entire life.

That ridiculous lie in the face of the obvious seemed to break through Ryder’s shock. He burst out with a laugh. “Oh, I think it’s exactly what it looks like.” He grinned. “Guess Elec saw you home safely. Knew I could count on him.”

Ryder moved through the room to his closet, still grinning. “I hate to be the voice of reason-‘I mean, when does that ever happen? But it’s damn near noon. I have to grab my uniform and head to the pre-race meetings with my team. I would imagine you have to do the same, rookie.”

Oh my God.

It was Elec. “I know you,” she said, struck dumb. “You were at a barbeque at the Briggses a long time ago. You got drunk on pilfered beer and took your daddy’s car and did doughnuts on the front lawn.”

Elec rubbed his chin and gave a sheepish smile. “Guilty as charged. But they shouldn’t have left the beer keg unattended. It was too much a temptation for a teenage boy.”

Tamara started to think she just might faint. Dear God in heaven, she had slept with a teenager. She was a molester. She scooted back on the mattress, trying to get off the same pillow as him, put some space, any space, between them. “You were like twelve then! How old are you now? My Lord, Elec, I’m old enough to be your mother!”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said, not looking at all concerned that she had just done a Mrs. Robinson on him. He reached for her, touching her hip, hauling her back a little toward him. “That was more than ten years ago, I imagine. And if you’re old enough to have a twenty-six-year-old child, I’ll eat my car, part by part.”

“You’re twenty-six?” Tamara’s heart rate slowed a little. That didn’t sound quite as bad. She’d been thinking early twenties, but at least he was heading toward thirty.

“Well, almost. In a couple of months.”

“Oh, my God!” She panicked and ducked under the sheet.

The morning after scene is one of my favorites in the book even though the dinner with Elec, Tamara, her friend, Suzanne, Suzanne’s ex, Ty and his bimbo du jour is another priceless piece of entertainment and if a reader is interested in knowing what that scene reads like, well, she’ll have to read the book. B+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in trade paperback from Amazon or Powells on November 4, 2008.   Ebook format forthcoming.


And Now: Buy a Contemporary, Save the World

Here’s the deal: we dig this book. We dig this book like damn and whoa, and we think you will too. So, in order to spread the word and the opportunity to read it we’re doing a multi-level giveaway in tandem with our reviews of Flat Out Sexy.   Sarah and I are putting money where our mouth is by offering up a 1/3 of the prize money each.   We coerced Ms. McCarthy to throw in some cash to the kitty and Berkley is adding 20 copies of the book.

Part the First: free books! Leave a comment, and you’re automatically entered to win a copy. We each have 10 copies of the book to give away, so drop a word Smart Bitches and here and double your chances. Comments will be open for 24 hours starting now.

Second: Spread the Word! Below is a Sprout widget about our campaign, and a simpler animated graphic. Right-click-and-save the graphic, or grab the Sprout for yourself (graphic at the top of the page), and put it on your site. Let us know that you’ve done so via email (sarah at OR jane at, and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to, where you can buy this book, or many, many other books may suit your fancy. Spread the word, let us know, and you’re entered to win. That’s it.

Flat Out Sexy

The Spread the Word winner will be announced in 1 week, so tune in on Monday 27 October to see who wins a fierce Benjamin in our quest to Save the Contemporary.

Why? Because if there’s one thing that makes us sad, it’s the idea of contemporary romance dying out. So spread the word, buy a contemporary, and save the world.

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. Just because I’m dying to use WP’s new poll feature…updated « Trivial Pursuits
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 21:45:22

    […] not entering the contests but I do like a good contemporary from time to time, so yes…lets save the contemporary. Or is it Buy a contemporary, save the world… whichever, sounds like fun. […]

  2. Carol Sy
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:07:02

    I actually love contemporaries, and like Jane, I have been looking for good contemporary reads. I would definitely check out Erin’s books. :)

  3. Larena Wirum
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:14:11

    I would love to be entered into the contest. :-)

  4. JR
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:17:49

    Contemporary romance is my favourite genre. I love Erin’s light & funny stories such as Smart Mouth. Please enter me in the draw.

  5. aliquis
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:25:18

    Whoa – so I’m super late to the party, but I love contemporary romances, and Erin McCarthy’s writing, and I’m so so glad she’s finally got another new contemporary out!

  6. Jodi S.
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:29:40

    I love contemporaries. I can’t get into the paranormal so I’m glad that Erin is releasing another contemp. She is an auto-buy author for me, even her vamps are sitting on my shelf.

  7. Alison
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:34:53

    I would love to try this one! Enter me, too!

  8. Darby Lohrding
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:51:50

    Wow, I’m with you and the others, these types of books just aren’t “out there” anymore…please enter me!
    Thank you for the find and the contest!
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

  9. Midknyt
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 22:54:26

    You know, I’ve never read a contemporary, so thus it would be best if I got a copy of the book so I knew why they were so worthy of being saved. ;)

  10. kim h
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 23:06:12

    dam n good it is. love erin’;’b books so much. this sounds great. great reveiw s from so much poeple. i love comtemps rea d tehm the most. cognrts erin on the book

  11. Josie
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 23:07:52

    Count me in as well – you had me at “…realistic tension stemming from ordinary life experiences”
    It’s so great to hear about an exciting new contemporary! Yay!

  12. Save The Contemporary | In the Middle of Nowhere - Blog of contemporary erotic romance author Karen Erickson
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 23:09:31

    […] Author and Smart Bitches, they’re out to save the contemporary romance genre by sponsoring a contest! They’re spreading the word about the latest contemporary book by Erin McCarthy, Flat Out […]

  13. Lex
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 23:23:15

    I love Erin’s books. I have all the Vegas Vamps and I have a banner for the Impalers on my MySpace. I was disappointed that the Dark Muse Society went bust too. However, I’m glad to see she has a new book out, and it looks smokin’ hot! I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ve put the widget on my website and am crossing my fingers to win a copy of the book.

  14. Lori T
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 23:32:44

    I love Erin McCarthy and what a fun contest. Please count me in.

  15. Karin
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 00:09:47

    The book sounds fantastic. If I had a site, I would definitely add the graphic to it.

  16. Jamie
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 00:15:21

    Sounds like a good one. Count me in.

  17. Zippy
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 00:15:47

    I love a good contemporary! I’m ready to run out and buy this one, but darn, it’s only October 20th. With my short attention span I hope I remember to buy it on November 4th. Thanks ladies for highlighting an important genre of romance. Long Live Contemporaries!

  18. Morgan
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 00:52:01

    I totally agree! Too many vampires and werewolves these days!

  19. Jenyfer Matthews
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 01:00:37

    I love contemporaries, and have already posted the graphic on my own blog :)

  20. Stina Tu
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 02:44:02

    I love contemporaries and I’m always on the look out for a new one that is a great read.

  21. Brie
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 02:46:56

    I read my first Erin McCarthy Russian Roulette in the First Blood Anthology a couple of weeks ago. I thought the story was really good, but I’m not that into paranormal romance right now, so I wasn’t tempted to read more of her work under the paranormal romance genera. Then someone told me she wrote contemporaries also, and that made me happy as I’m just recently getting into reading contemp’s.

    Anyway, long story short, yes, I’d love to win a copy of Erin McCarthy’s upcoming Flat out Sexy.

  22. Dawn M.
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 03:04:05

    Ooooo, this does sound good. Count me in!

    Thanks! :0)

  23. Sue A.
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 04:43:51

    I hope I’m not too late! This sounds fantastic, I wouldn’t want to miss out!

  24. Pam Keener
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 04:53:37

    I am a huge fan of contemporaries & this book sounds like a winner. I have no website but if I did I would definately put it on my website. Good luck & thanks for promoting this type of book
    Love & Hugs

  25. Ann M.
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 05:03:33

    What a great idea. I love Erin’s writing.

  26. LadyVampire2u
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 05:18:45

    I’d definitely like to be counted in to win this book. And I put the widget on my blog as well.

  27. Save the world, buy a contemporary « I Do Not Want to Wait, I Want The Book Now
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 05:41:32

    […] saw this on Dear Reader and Smart Bitches, Trashy […]

  28. Jean P
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 07:07:11

    What a great idea!

  29. Sandy (strlady)
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 07:18:09

    I’m in!! Love Erin’s work!


  30. SusanL
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 07:44:53

    Can I enter twice? As I already commented on SBTB, I don’t remember when I last read a straight up contemporary.

    I really liked the reviews and plan to purchase if I don’t get a freebie.

    I still enjoy urban fantasy but, as with anything, a steady diet of nothing but urban fantasy gets boring. Who really wants to eat the same thing 3 meals a day, or to read the same type of book day in, day out?

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