It took me two months to read Ms. McCarthy’s Full Throttle. The novel is the seventh in Ms. McCarthy’s Fast Track series, a sequence of books whose appeal has waned as its numbers have risen.
I liked the first two books in the series, Flat out Sexy and Hard and Fast. And while Full Throttle is not the worst of the series – that honor belongs to the truly awful Slow Ride – it’s still a disheartening read.
Shawn Hamby, the heroine of this book expected to inherit her grandfather’s track upon his death. However, his lawyer tells her that her grandfather’s will stipulates she marry and stay married for a year in order to have the track as her own. (Yes, I know, this plot device is better suited to historical romance than a contemp set in modern day Charlotte, North Carolina.) Shawn, unsurprisingly pissed off at having her dream stymied by her grandfather’s sexist plans, goes out drinking with her girlfriends, several of whom have been featured in other books in the series. While out she is hit on by a hot but much younger guy with the improbable name of Rhett Butler Ford, the younger brother of her best friend Eve’s husband. She thinks he’s way too young for her. He thinks he’d like to boss her around in bed. Only in the world of bad romance is this a set up for instant true love.
Not much really happens in this book except a lot of sex. Rhett and Shawn – whom he nicknames Scarlett – marry with the understanding they’ll divorce after a year and he will be a hundred grand richer. The only thing that makes this book even vaguely interesting is that Rhett likes to have complete control between the sheets. He’s not a Dom but rather a man who so likes to control how and when he and Shawn orgasm, so he dissuades her from giving him blow jobs. Whatever.
I think what I really dislike about the characters in Ms. McCarthy’s series is that she and thus the reader now have really low expectations for the lovers in her books. At one point in Full Throttle Shawn is blown away by the fact that not only does Rhett make coffee, he puts his cup in the dishwasher. For his part, Rhett is thrilled that the first time they have sex Shawn lets him gag her with a pair of stockings from her underwear drawer. Neither of them floated my boat and I could barely credit the joy they found in each other.
In the first few books of this series Ms. McCarthy wrote heroines who were strong, independent, funny women making their way in the male-dominated realm of NASCAR. Now, those same women as well as her later leads have become sex obsessed, slightly snippy women whose friendships with one another have lost the power that made them so likable in the first place. There isn’t a woman I’d like to slam down tequila shots with – this is a heavy drinking crowd – in the book. Nor is there a man I’d like to have rev my engine.
I can’t recommend Full Throttle, not even to those who find speedway romances engaging. It’s time for Ms. McCarthy to pull the plug on the series. The book gets a C- from me.