It’s rare that I read a book and think “this is why people mock the romance genre”, but I’m sorry to say, that is the main thought that Reckless Curves left behind at its conclusion. Turning every page of this book was such a painful experience that I felt like a mouse lifting an encyclopedia.
Tom Lorde is a “high-end” mechanic and entrepreneur at Bad Boys Auto, where he works with his best friend, racing champion Marcus Black. One day, Kendra Black, Marcus’s sister, arrives at the shop to talk with Tom about their son from a one night stand three years ago. Kendra had cancer as an adolescent and wants to ensure her child will have his other legal parent on hand if anything happens to her in the future. However, Tom doesn’t know he’s a father because he ignored every call and email from Kendra (he proves it by showing her all the bolded email messages from her – nobody even acknowledges that platforms such as Gmail let you mark emails as unread. . .). Tom immediately goes all in for parenthood financially (actual childcare is another matter, see below): he gets Kendra a house and a full-time nanny so she can pursue being a songwriter, and suggests marriage.
The problems of this book can be traced to simple believability issues. For starters, all the characters speak as if they are in a therapy session. . . on a daytime soap opera. Everybody – Tom especially – is completely self-aware and knows exactly why they and others do what they do on a psychological level. In this world, everyone can articulate their own/child’s/friend’s daddy issues, trust issues, and/or alcohol abuse issues. The writing also makes a mockery of love. None of the emotional nuance involved in falling for a person exists here; instead, characters just proclaim their love – Kendra literally sings her love to Tom with a song from the Twilight soundtrack. This character, who is supposedly going to be a hit songwriter, doesn’t even sing an original song to her Great Love (we never see a single verse she writes in the whole book).
The characters also all sound like members of the former British empire. Kendra, who supposedly is from Beverly Hills, California, tells people to “ring me” instead of “call me”, mentions “going to university” instead of “going to college”, refers to wearing a “jersey” which just means a type of fabric here, and someone actually says “arsehole” – it’s “ass” thank you, very much. On another linguistic note, Tom and Kendra’s son, who is three-years-old and gets very little parenting from either of his apparently adoring parents – chatters only in baby talk about things like his love of green beans. As someone who has cared for incredibly articulate toddlers, I found this particularly grating.
On top of all this – nothing happens. Ever. A number of good romances I’ve read focused on falling in love while still including other activities – paintball, home renovation, and freeing Scotland from British rule are a few that come immediately to mind. But Reckless Curves makes no fun pitstops or takes any scenic backroads with the plot. At the beginning Kendra can’t change a tire and needs Tom to save her and at the end Kendra can’t change a tire and needs Tom to save her. If you’re wondering if this book compensates with some awesome car sex, nope. Tom and Kendra prefer bed sex in which he can admire her “in the waning light of day coming through the French doors”.
Finally, if you’re especially sensitive to hygiene in light of the current coronavirus crisis, this book will make your skin crawl. One of the characters contracts mono and takes a very casual attitude towards preventing transmission of it to others. They actually visit a dying man they are told not to touch and let the person touch them. We also get this great interchange: “I want to kiss you.” “There’s a small chance you might still get mono.” “I don’t care.”
Considering all this, I feel like a mic drop would perhaps be more fitting here than any summarizing paragraph. If you’re still craving self-published books about mechanics, but ones who actually sound like the come from the region they were raised in, and who actually do things (including sex in unusual places), I refer you to Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series.