Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy (Fast Track #2)

  • Release Date: May 5, 2009 (Audio released Sept. 24th 2012) 
  • Length: 304 Pages / 8 hours 23 minutes
  • Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance  
  • Series: Fast Track #2 
  • Publisher: Tantor Media and Berkley

The quickest way to get  me to read a book is to hear Sarah Wendell and her guests gushing about in on the Dear Bitches, Smart Authors podcast. On their show on contemporary sports romance Sarah and Amanda had a lot of love for the first book in this series, Flat-Out Sexy, but I was kind of terrified the kids in this book would end up being plot moppets so I went to the second one.

When grad student Imogen Wilson finds herself hiding in a car with stock car racer Ty McCordle who is  hiding from his annoying soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Nikki, they spark a romance that is....Hard and Fast. 

The romance is sort of a North meets South story. Ty is born and raised in the South and loves fast cars and the outdoors, while Imogen is a native New Yorker  who is most comfortable with coffee and books.

I liked that Ty was a flawed hero. He is dyslexic and because he kept it a secret , he never learned to read. This comes in contrast with Imogen who places a high value on literature. I saw Imogen as kind of like Emily Deschanel's character in the FOX show Bones. She is very analytic, curious and highly educated which makes her sound anti-social at time.

Coming into the second book in a series I did feel like I was crashing a party already in progress. From page one  Imogen is fantasizing about Ty while watching a race at the track with her adviser (Tammy, the heroine of book one) and then when he sees her at a dinner party he already knows he likes her. It felt like a weird instalove, but it became obvious later in the book that they had met at countless other events.

The audio is done by Emily Durante and while I didn't love her voice in the beginning it grew on me. I like how expressive she is when reading just the third person text. I liked all her voice except for the ones she did for characters with southern accents, they sounded more Texan and less North Carolina. Her Ty voice sounded like she was doing a bad Matthew McConaughey impression.

This book is a little steamier than I usually like in a romance. It's funny, I grabbed this to listen to on the way home for work I had a recurring nightmare about opening my window and someone hearing it.

I do wish there had been more of "competence porn" in the book about the stock car racing. Since Imogen is considering doing her thesis on marriage in the stock car racing culture there is some talk about the industry but there aren't really any scenes describing what it's like inside the car.  I still don’t really understand the sport and would have liked to see more of him doing his job. 

I’m still new to romance novels, but there always seems to be this perception that the women change themselves for the hero, but that hasn't been the case in the books I've read.  Imogen felt very fully formed she knew what she liked and what she didn't like. She was assertive and unashamed of who she was. I like how it’s stated very obvious that she wears glasses and when Ty asks if she has to wear them I was afraid it'd turn into The Glasses Gotta Go makeover, but she doesn't. 

The friend group in this series has really captivated me, and I can't wait to see how this series is going to end. McCarthy's writing is both romantic and funny.  Although there are three women in the group and six books in the series, so I'm curious how the new heroines fit in.

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