Hard and Fast
Hard and Fast is the second installment in Erin McCarthy’s Fast Track series about race car drivers. It features two of the secondary characters that were introduced to each other and readers in the first book, Flat-Out Sexy, and I was looking forward to their story. Unfortunately, the book just didn’t gel for me for a few reasons.
Imogen Wilson is a grad student working on her master’s degree in Sociology, and her thesis has to do with the culture of stock-car racing. After coming across a dating manual titled Marrying a Race Car Driver in Six Easy Steps, she’s researching to see if there is any particular dating pattern for drivers with successful marriages. In addition to interviewing driver’s wives, she’s decided to test out the first couple of steps by flirting with some of the single drivers. She’s excluded driver Ty McCordle from the list, however, because her unexplained attraction to him would prevent her from being objective.
Ty McCordle has been a race car driver for more than a decade, and his reputation for carefree behavior and dating dumb bimbos is not without warrant. But Ty finds himself unexpectedly attracted to Imogen’s intelligence and candor. He hasn’t pursued her in the past because her intelligence and class have always intimidated him. Ty keeps secret the fact that he has dyslexia, and cannot read at any functional level. To get by he has an excellent memory, an assistant who navigates paperwork, and he “reads” by listening to audiobooks.
When Ty and Imogen are both guests at a dinner party hosted by mutual friends, things heat up a bit and Ty decides that it’s time to break up with his latest bimbo girlfriend and pursue his attraction to Imogen. But Imogen is a little worried that a fling with Ty would distract her from researching her thesis. This hesitancy, however, doesn’t last long and the two embark on a heated sexual relationship.
As with most average books, there were some things I liked and some things I could have done without. Perhaps the biggest issue for me was that I was never fully engaged with the characters. I put this book down repeatedly due to lack of any real interest. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just forgettable. A large part of my disinterest can be attributed to the forced chemistry and clunky, overlong sex scenes. These scenes didn’t flow well at all, especially the first one, which should have been 15 pages shorter and would have benefited from the adage of less talking, more doing.
Another dislike of mine was the secondary character of Suzanne, the planned heroine of book three, which I doubt I’ll be reading. In Flat-Out Sexy I liked Suzanne and was a little excited about her story, but in Hard and Fast she grated on my nerves, and too often I found her character unnecessarily vulgar.
Now for the good stuff. Imogen’s up-front honesty was refreshing, and her unique perspective of situations made for quite a few funny moments. Second, I appreciated those typical, albeit awkward, conversations that all new couples must engage in, such as the “have you been tested” talk, the “exclusivity” discussion, and when to become official “boyfriend-girlfriend.” I felt the familiar nervousness and rush of a new relationship, and the conflict between Ty and Imogen was realistic for two people whose relationship is moving fast and who still have a lot to learn about each other. Also on the plus side were the mature, believable conflict resolution and the ending, which I quite liked.
Overall, I found Hard and Fast to be a fairly enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable read. It was a mostly pleasant way to spend a few hours, but I wasn’t jumping for joy over it.