REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy
UPDATE: I’ve closed the comments and will announce the winners later tonight.
As you know, Sarah of SmartBitches and I have been making an effort to read and promote the straight contemporary. We’ve taken May off to recover from our DABWAHA tournament and we’ll have another STC candidate coming soon. In the meantime, I want to tell you about the May release of Erin McCarthy’s Hard and Fast. The trade paperback is in bookstores today.
After I received my ARC, I wrote to Berkley to tell them how much I enjoyed the book and they offered up 20 copies to giveaway. Let me share with you why you might enjoy this book.
Imogen Wilson is a graduate student in North Carolina. She’s become friends with two wives of stock car racers (well, one former one and one current one). As a result, she has been exposed to the inner world of stock car racing including the women who live in pursuit of the elusive stock car husband. One such woman is Nikki Borden who is currently the girlfriend, or bed mate, of one Ty McCordle. Nikki carries with her “How to Marry a Race Car Driver in Six Easy Steps.” Imogen is struck with an idea for her thesis for her graduate degree in sociology–“did dating rules result in success when altered for a specific occupation?”
Imogen isn’t entirely different than Nikki. Imogen is attracted to Ty. She, like Nikki, would like to have a stock car driver induced orgasm for no other reason than Ty appeals to her.
It was utterly futile to think she could ever attract the attention of a man like that, and she needed to remember that. Why she even wanted to severely mystified her, but there was something about his joie de vivre, the way he didn’t take himself too seriously, that appealed to her. Or at least to the parts of her that resided below the waist.
Ty is not immune to Imogen either. Her book smarts appeal to him because its a strength he does not perceive himself to have. He’s street smart and determined. He’s overcome his severe dyslexia and his lack of education to become a premiere stock car racer but he lusts for knowledge and Imogen is the living, breathing, walking embodiment of that fantasy. Thankfully for both Ty and Imogen, Nikki finds herself a new, younger race car driver which leaves Ty and Imogen to explore their lust for one another.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because it made me laugh out loud (and seriously who doesn’t need that these days). Because of Ty’s dyslexia, he cannot quite get a grip on Imogen’s name and so he calls her Emma Jean and later Engine. The exchange of nicknames continues throughout the book. After Imogen quotes lines from Much Ado About Nothing, Ty called Imogen Beatrice. When she refers to him as Mr. Checkered Flag, he fires back with Ms. Victory Lap.
And it’s sexy. Imogen is a talker and a thinker and combined with Ty’s natural proclivities to turn everything toward sex, conversations become supercharged.
"No, ma’am." He shot her a look. "I can think of a lot better things you could be doing to me with those hands."
"Part of me assumes that what you are saying is so obviously sexually charged, you don’t actually mean anything specifi c. It was just meant to be a sort of verbal foreplay. So I shouldn’t bother to ask the inevitable "like what?’ question. But the other part of me wants to know if there is actually something you would like me to do to you in bed. You know, if you have a particular fantasy or position that you’ve been contemplating."
Ty almost groaned. He did shift in his seat to try for a more comfortable angle since his jeans were suddenly cutting into him from the erection that had sprung up at her words. There was something so unbelievably hot about Imogen’s bold curiosity….
There hadn’t been any particular action he’d been thinking of when he’d spoken. He had just wanted to keep her aroused and focused on sex until he could get her back to his condo. But now that she had asked, he had a whole slideshow of positions clicking through his head. He didn’t think he could pick just one.
But it’s not all laughs. Indeed, Ty and Imogen have a wonderfully touching exchange about love and romance I’ve read recently:
Ty gave a laugh and stuck his index finger out at her. “Now that’s funny. That girl has more genuine affection for her shoes than for me.”
She couldn’t tell if he was just stating a fact, or if it bothered him that Nikki wasn’t emotionally invested in him. So she made light of it. “Good shoes are really hard to fi nd.”
“Look at you, calling up your inner smart- ass.” Ty grinned at her. “I like that from you.”
“Well, it’s true.” Imogen smiled back at him. “When you’re shoe shopping, there are all these choices but it’s so hard to fi nd the perfect pair. They don’t match your outfit right, or they’re too casual or too dressy, or they’re out of your price range. The store is out of your size, or they pinch your toes or rub your heels or give you blisters or make your feet sweat. The heel is too high or too low, or they make your ankles look fat.”
His knee bumped Imogen’s when he shifted in his seat. “But the truth is, I want to be some woman’s work boots, not her high heels.”
“Work boots?” What was sexy about that? And did women have work boots?
“Yeah. You know, the boots she pulls out when she wants to get down and dirty, hiking or gardening or boating or painting the kitchen. The ones she relies on and trusts and lives her life hard and good and on her terms in. Her favorites.”
There was been some debate about the ending of the story in which it seems that the resolution of the conflict didn’t match the enormity of the differences between Ty and Imogen. The pace of the romance was superfast and it is true that it seemed rushed at the end. Still, this was a fun, sexy read that I’ll enjoy revisiting. If you would like a copy, drop a comment in the comment box. I’ll pick 20 winners tomorrow.