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older woman/younger man

REVIEW:  Full Throttle by Erin McCarthy

REVIEW: Full Throttle by Erin McCarthy

Dear Ms. McCarthy:

In the Fast Track series, boosk 1 through 3 were my favorite. There was just the right balance of sexy fun for me. The middle of the series veered away from what drew me in but I felt Full Throttle returned in tempo and tone to those original books.

Shawn Hamby has been friends with Eve Monroe-Ford, a stock car driver, since they were kids. As adults they participate in a book club which is really a front for four friends to get together and do crazy stuff. This time they visit a fetish club in Charlotte where she gets invited to dance by a confident and sexy man named “Rhett.” Shawn thinks his name is made up and tells him that she’s Scarlett. The two have a connection but Shawn is drawn away by one of her book club friends. Outside the club an embarrassed Eve confesses that Shawn was dancing with Eve’s younger brother in law.

“Nolan’s little brother, Rhett.”

“That guy’s name is really Rhett?” she asked in amazement. Now she felt like a jerk for doubting it. “I thought he was making that up!”

“No, it’s really his name. He’s twenty-five years old and he’s in a sex club. Oh, my God, how am I going to look him in the face?”

“Twenty-five?” Shawn squawked, horrified. “Good Lord, he’s a fetus!” Who she had been contemplating pursuing so she could get a serious look at him naked. Her cheeks burned. “He looked older than twenty-five. He looked too hot to be that young. And I thought Nolan’s little brother was well, little. It never, ever occurred to me that the fake Rhett could be the real Rhett. You always talk about him like he’s seventeen.”

“To me, he might as well be. He’s Nolan’s little brother! What the hell was he doing there?” Eve asked, pulling out of the parking lot.

Oh, Shawn had a funny feeling she knew exactly what he was looking for. She might not be particularly knowledgeable about the lifestyle, but she could pick up on a clue or two. “I think he was a Dom looking for a submissive,” she said, not at all sure how she felt about any of this.

“What?” Eve said, moaning. “Oh, shit, I’m going to die. I do not want to picture that. God!”

Erin McCarthy Full ThrottleThe setup is clear. Rhett (his real name) is interested in Shawn, an older woman. Giving him a BDSM interest makes perfect sense in the book because it explains one of the reasons that he’s attracted to Shawn. Younger woman are often scared off by his seriousness. Rhett works on Eve’s pit crew and is interested in dirt track racing. Conveniently Shawn owns a classic racing track.  The problem is that she’ll lose ownership of the race track if she doesn’t marry. Yes, this is a *will* book and usually I hate these. Fortunately I felt like it was handled in the best way possible. The marriage of convenience places the couple together in close proximity but they agree to have sex because, well, they are attracted to each other.

I thought making Rhett the serious soul who enjoyed a less mainstream sexual lifestyle was smart when pairing him up with Shawn. The difference in their ages (she is thirty-two to his twenty-five) shrank because of his seriousness and his command in the bedroom. Rhett had no problem dropping that role outside the bedroom and was, in fact, written to be more comfortable at some of the domestic arrangements than Shawn which was a nice role reversal.  Shawn was more impulsive, deciding on a whim to propose to Rhett or suggesting that her book club go to a fetish club. And she was also more attracted to the absurd. The pairing worked for me.

And there was something very normal about their interaction. The first morning after, Shawn felt very uncomfortable and wasn’t at all unhappy Rhett had to leave to go to work even though the night before had been incredible. When his mom shows up, she immediately goes toward Shawn’s petite blonde friend and says “Oh, you’re just too cute. Exactly Rhett’s type” and when the mother is pointed toward Shawn quips “Of course, he didn’t marry any of those girls, did he?”

There is almost too little conflict in the story and what was there was easily resolved.  Shawn is the one that tries keeps Rhett at arm’s length and the story focuses a great deal on their relationship inside the bedroom as much as outside. Still, it was a sexy, normal adult romance with really smoking hot love scenes. I appreciated the humor and I liked both Shawn and Rhett.  B-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Just for Today by Emmie Dark

REVIEW: Just for Today by Emmie Dark

Dear Ms. Dark:

I had high expectations for this book after reading the Recommended Read review from Sunita of In His Eyes. Unfortunately the magic of that resonated in In His Eyes for Sunita didn’t carry over for me into Just for Today. It started out poorly when the hero, Sean Paterson, is described as the black sheep of his family of accountants. Despite his success as a comic book artist and horror novels, he is still looked upon disapprovingly. I’m sure Neil Gaiman’s family thinks to themselves, that poor schmuck earning money with his pencil instead of the calculator. He hit #1 on the NYTimes list, but we shall shun him and badger him into accounting where real men work.

This idea of him being frowned upon by his family when he was so successful lacked even a modicum of believability:

He was a multipublished author, so famous in his genre that his latest release commanded elaborate in-store promotion like cardboard cutouts and entire shelves dedicated to his new book.

….

“So,” Jess began when she’d taken enough deep breaths to calm herself, “why did Hailey tell me that you weren’t very successful? The way she described it, you’d written one or two books that were, well, struggling. Even Rob never said much about it.”

Sean shrugged. “Hailey has been spending a lot of time with my mother, from what I understand.”

“And?”“My father reads the newspaper. My mother only reads biographies and Nancy Mitford novels.”

Jess shook her head, not sure what he was getting at. “So?”

“So they have no idea what I do, what I’ve achieved.”

“Why haven’t you told them?”

“I’ve tried.”

Just for Today by Emmie DarkFrom the very beginning, the set up for Sean doesn’t work for me.  There is a slight bit of slut shaming as veterinarian Jess Alexander, the heroine, doesn’t do one night stands because she’s “not that kind of girl.” (Words repeated from the blurb). Only she must be because she goes home with Sean on the night of her nurse’s wedding to Sean’s brother.

The old chestnut of the good girl and bad boy is repeated throughout the story without any surprises or twists.  And Sean isn’t even bad and I’m not sure how Jess qualifies as good since she does go home with Sean that first night.  By her own standards, I think she’d fall within the not-so-good category.

If we could have stripped away the labels and not had that been the conflict, Just for Today, could have worked because Jess, in particular, was more interesting than the early pages make her out to be.  She runs out on Sean, uninterested in more than a one night stand, and this is an affront to Sean who wanted a bonus early morning round at the very least.

When the housesitter hired by Sean’s brother flakes as the brother is about to leave on his honeymoon, Sean agrees to stay for six weeks.  Because Sean is an inept creative type, he breaks the plumbing, misses the dog eating some pills, and is generally not to be trusted doing anything responsible.  At times he was portrayed as incapable of taking care of himself.

Portraying Sean as this hapless lothario was kind weird.  He had tons of short term relationships but was so spacey that he’d often drift off into his fantasy world involving his main character in the middle of actual conversations.  It was hard to see Sean as both socially awkward and so amazing with the ladies that he had a bad boy reputation.  There wasn’t anything “bad” about Sean. He was successful, a good listener, and understanding.

Jess’ feelings of inadequacy based on her husband’s infidelity was more understandable. Her vulnerability well conveyed.  However, for adult as these two characters were supposed to be, their interactions were fraught with immature behavior.  I guess it was for the conflict.

While the book had potential, it never delivered for me, relying too heavily on overly common character tropes.  C

Best regards,

Jane

 

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