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Monday, November 17, 2008:
"Flat-Out Sexy" by Erin McCarthy (2008)

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (November 4, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0425224074
ISBN-13: 978-0425224076

She met him at the racetrack...

...which was the last place Tamara Briggs wanted to find a man. Even a deeply intriguing, seductively sexy man like Elec Monroe. Tamara's a single mother now after losing her daredevil husband in an accident -- and she's not about to get involved with another driver and put her kids, or herself, through that again. Besides, Elec's young enough to be her...younger brother.

Now things are moving a little too fast...

But he sure does get her heart racing. And after she's tricked into a blind date with him, Tamara gives in to her passion. Things screech to a halt, though, when he asks to meet her children. Whatever happened to wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am? Suddenly Tamara has to decide how big a risk she's willing to take to experience the thrilling, terrifying power of true love...

Tamara Briggs had suffered a great loss when her husband died tragically in a racing accident two years ago, but now she has a good life with her two young children and her teaching job, and she's just starting to get out there and date again. Her initial results are rather disappointing, until one evening she literally runs into a man that flips her switch in a big way. She's not into one-night stands, but Elec Monroe makes her crazy hot, and she's willing to be a little daring and wild if it makes her feel this good.
Until the next morning when she wakes up in bed with Elec, and finds out two things she hadn't known: that he's a race car driver in his own right and not part of the pit crew like she thought, and that he's several years younger than her. Now she's torn. Can she really carry on a fling with this sexy man with such odds against her? She thought she could, but when a family rivalry is revealed, Tamara decides she's not ready to put up with the complications of dating another race car driver.
Only some well-meaning friends have other ideas, and before she knows what's happening, the wretches set it up so her and Elec and thrown together again, and this time the chemistry between them is too overwhelming to deny. Tamara agrees to continue seeing Elec as long as they keep it on the down-low, so she has time to get used to the idea. She knows that Elec could has his pick of beautiful women who are in it just for their brief moment of fun, but the thing is, Elec's already been there and done it too many times that it's lost its appeal. What he wants is a connection with a real woman, and he thinks he's found something special with Tamara. He wants to take her out and meet her kids and treat her the way she deserves to be treated. And after spending more time with Elec, she realizes that he truly does want to be with her and no one else. But what will her family think of her and Elec together, and can she once again handle the very real danger that Elec faces everytime he gets behind the wheel?
My thoughts:
Let me start off by saying how much I heart Erin McCarthy. She is funny and interesting and writes fabulously hot & sweet stories. So it's no surprise when I read this one that I felt exactly the same way. (And a shout-out to Kati who also loved this book, though we might be fighting over her books for reviews *g*)

In an industry currently flooded with historicals and paranormals and over-the-top world-building and outrageous situations, it was pure pleasure to sit down with a straight-up contemporary that didn't have 5 different storylines going on, but instead focused on the budding relationship of two ordinarary people who unexpectedly meet and fall in love. This is why I read romance. For that connection, for that amazing chemistry between two people that overwhelms their common sense and has them doing whatever fancy manuveuring and scheduling they can just so they can be together for a few hours, until what starts out as a fling ends up growing into something so much deeper, so much stronger than either one of them ever expected.
I loved how Erin addresses Tamara's major concerns about getting involved with Elec - how it will affect her children, their age difference, him being a race car driver - and resolves them satisfactorily without focusing on them too much and taking away from Elec and Tamara. She doesn't gloss over Tamara's fears either, turning them into contrived excuses to keep them apart. Instead they are dealt with in a believable manner, and I felt that Tamara's reactions were authentic and completely in sync with her character.
Elec is also very true to his character, as we see him interacting with his siblings and his mother. Yes he's a racer, and like any typical good-looking guy he's had his share of women, but through his family's eyes we see he's always been quieter, more mature, someone who's experienced a lot of female attention but who now wants something deeper and more meaningful than a string of one-night stands. He's very respectful of Tamara, calling her by that name instead of "Tammy" like everyone else, just because he knows she likes it. When he finally meets her children, Tamara is touched to see how much he really pays attention, and that he tunes into each child individually, focusing on them and the things they like.
And Tamara and Elec together are like spontaneous combustion! They can't seem to keep their hands off of each other, much to Tamara's embarrassment. So I'm warning you now: keep something cool handy when you're reading this book because chances are you're going to need it. Erin excels at writing sensually erotic love scenes that are not too raw but just explicit enough to crank up the heat to "on fire". Yet what makes their lovin' so sexy is that they have true affection and attraction for each other. It's not just Elec tempting Tamara to be a little naughty, it's also Tamara who revels in getting down and dirty with her boyfriend because he makes her feel beautiful, and wants to share that with him. It's in the way they touch each other that first reveals their true feelings for one another.
I loved that Tamara's children weren't perfect little genius robots or screaming demons, but a combination of many things, just like kids in real life. They wormed their way into Elec's heart before he could prevent it from happening. And I found Tamara's concerns about her in-laws to be valid and poignant, knowing that she loved their son but was now moving on to build a new life. Tamara's conversation with her mother-in-law brought tears to my eyes.
As for secondary characters, I thoroughly enjoyed the bickering between Tamara's best friend Suzanne and her ex-husband Ryder, and wonder if Elec's sister Eve will be finding a racer of her own. And then there's Tamara's teaching assistant who feels an inconvenient attraction to racer Ty, and Elec's brother Evan...oh the possibilities....
There were some other issues going on that round out the story, though not all of which I felt had to be included, especially the obsessed female fan who goes to the media with an outrageous story about her and Elec. I thought this was a bit much on top of everything else Elec and Tamara were dealing with and maybe could have been used in a future installment of the series, especially since gossip and scandal is surely prevalent in the racing industry, just like any high profile sport. But overall I loved this book and already have book #2 on my tbb list.
So if you're tired of all the extras thrown into your romances and just want a traditional, contemporary romance, or if you just like a sweet 'n sexy love story, I suggest you pick up Erin McCarthy's "Flat-Out Sexy" and let yourself be swept away for an afternoon. It's time well-spent.
Rating: ****3/4 out of *****



  1. This one was recommended to me recently. Sounded good (and hot, woot!), but I have to admit that learning that the hero is a race car driver sorta lessens my interest. hrm. Still, I do like a romance without a lot of side-plots, so this one goes on the PBS wish list. :-)

  2. I loved this book and Elec was so dreamy. *insert swooning here*
    I can't wait to read about Tamara's stiff assistant and her romance with the wild car driver man ho (or so he seems)

  3. Sula, it really doesn't talk that much about racing. It focused more on Tamara and Elec. It was just so refreshing to read after all the other stuff I've been glomming.

    Kate, Elec was totally dreamy! I've always had a thing for older men but now I think I want some hot 25-yr old LOL.

  4. I guess I am showing my age, but a 25 sounds like such a baby to me, but Elec is one 25 year old I wouldn't mind getting to know :D

  5. Well I'm older than you, but it doesn't bother me all that much. Plus I just started watching "Supernatural" and now have this crazy crush on Jensen Ackles. Yum.

  6. I really enjoyed this book. Like you said, Stacy, it was a breath of fresh air to experience a straight contemporary with lots of focus on the h/h.

    I also really loved Tamara. She was just so real, you know? Her reactions to everything seemed so genuine. I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did!

  7. Another great review Stacy, and sounds like an excellent read. I have enjoyed Erin's books in the past and this sounds like another winner. Looking forward to reading it.

  8. Oh, great review. I already had it on my list of books to buy someday, but your review bumped it up some more. I especially loved this sentence: "For that connection, for that amazing chemistry between two people that overwhelms their common sense and has them doing whatever fancy manuveuring and scheduling they can just so they can be together for a few hours, until what starts out as a fling ends up growing into something so much deeper, so much stronger than either one of them ever expected."


  9. Thanks for the awesome review, Stacy! I'm so glad you and Kati both thought Elec was dreamy... I thought so myself. :-D

    And I've always had a thing for younger guys so it's actually sort of amazing I haven't written a younger man/older woman story yet.

    Imogen and Ty's book will be out in May 2009 and I actually think it's steamier than Flat Out Sexy. Fingers crossed I get to do a story for Suz and Ryder.

  10. I was hoping this one would come Thursday. It didn't. I was hoping this one would come Friday but knew it wouldn't because my mail person never delivers packages on Friday. I was right. I didn't come. So I figured it would come for sure today. I woke up to the news that there was a wildcat postal strike. So I didn't get it today either.


    Anticipation is killing me.

  11. I love her books. I cannot wait to read this one, it sounds great. Great review.


  13. I'm a fan of contemporaries and a big fan of Erin's books. I finished Flat-Out Sexy on Sunday and absolutely loved it. Elec was such a sweetie (not to mention hot), and it was nice to read about a sexy single mom. Can't wait to read the next book about Ty and Imogen. Their first meeting was funny and full of sparks.


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