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Thursday, April 02, 2009:
'Hard & Fast" by Erin McCarthy - review (2009)

An experiment in romance…

New to Charlotte, stock car racing country, graduate student Imogen Wilson meets Ty McCordle, a driver who inexplicably has her pulse racing. After an encounter at the track with a woman whose main goal in life is to marry a driver, Imogen realizes she’s hit on the perfect thesis for her Sociology degree. If she follows The Rules on how to get a man, can she steer her way to into the hearts of the drivers and establish their dating—and mating—patterns?

That’s testing the limits of passion.

Although sexy and reckless Ty is the ideal test subject, she knows she can’t pursue him for the sake of science. Yet he’s the one who’s chasing after her, and Imogen realizes that she actually wants to be caught. A southern gentleman like Ty won’t fail to disappoint, will satisfy all her curiosity—and make all the risks worthwhile…

Imogen Wilson is trying to find a topic for her sociology thesis when she comes across a book about the rules for dating and marrying a race car driver, and bingo, she decides she has her subject. But pulling it off might be tricky as she doesn't want to actually catch a race car driver, at least not unless it's sexy Ty McCordle.

Imogen has been attracted to Ty since she met him months ago, but he's dating someone else, plus he doesn't even know her name, so she tries to put him out of her mind. Easier said than done when they hang out with the same people. In fact it's at a gathering at the house of mutual friends that Imogen runs into Ty during a rainstorm, and discovers he's just as attracted to her as she is to him. Still, there's that little matter of a pesky, high-maintenance girlfriend...

Ty knows that he's been dating the wrong kind of women, his latest dating dilemma being a prime example of letting things go way past their expiration date. Just when he's trying to figure out an easy way to get out of a sticky situation, a timely solution presents itself literally right in front of him, letting him off the hook and freeing him up so he can date a woman he's actually genuinely interested in.

While their mutual attraction is what initially draws them together, it doesn't take long for either one to realize that they truly enjoy each other's company. Ty not only finds Imogen to be incredibly smart and classically beautiful, but he's totally turned on by her insatiable curiosity and inability to lie. There's no artifice when it comes to her; everything about her is natural and real, not plastic and enhanced. Plus he finds her hot as hell, and can't wait to get her nekkid.

As for Imogen, well, she loves Ty's laid-back yet adventurous personality. She likes it when he takes charge and tells her how it's going to be instead of always asking for her approval. Ty has a confident, decisive nature, and she finds that incredibly sexy, especially when compared to some of the men she's dated in the past. Plus he quotes Shakespeare, listens to what she has to say, and does amazing things to her with his mouth...

In just a matter of a few short weeks, these two are discovering what it's like to fall in love for the first time, and while it's rather quick and all kinds of scary, it's also really wonderful and exhilerating. Imogen discovers that when it comes to love, there's no such thing as rules, and Ty finds out what it's like to be valued for who he is as a person instead of as a public sports figure. Yet Ty is keeping a secret from Imogen and when it finally is revealed during a crucial time in their relationship, will the truth set him free, or will Imogen's knowledge of this information end up tearing them apart?

My thoughts:

First off, I cannot continue without commenting on the sexiness of this cover. That alone would entice me to buy the book, and because Erin was kind enough to send me an ARC sans hot guy cover a few weeks ago, I will just have to get my own copy when it's released in May. Believe me, it's no sacrifice ;)

Just as deliciously hot and naughty as "Flat-Out Sexy", this book is a fine tribute to the men who race stock cars and the women who love them. Just one of the reasons I love reading them is because they bring back fond memories of my childhood when my uncle used to race cars and he'd come to our house to load the car onto the truck. Having ridden in one, I know exactly how young Hunter (Tamara's daughter) feels. t is a thrill.

One of the really cool things Erin did was write a heroine who broke the mold a little. Yes, Imogen was very intelligent and bookish, extremely inquisitive and more of an observer of life than a participant at times. But she also possessed an earthy, sexual nature that spoke of her appreciation and enjoyment of sex, even before Ty came along and rocked her world. She was not a woman waiting on an orgasm. You gotta love that she had a life before Ty.

And Ty, though he was gorgeous and chased after by racing groupies, he had moments of self-doubt, especially when he thought about not racing. And though he wasn't book smart like Imogen, he had an amazing memory and really paid attention to Imogen when she talked. He loved her observations, her endless questions, and most especially her willingness to lead him lead when it came to sex. He liked being dominate in the bedroom, and knowing that Imogen trusted him to take care of her was a huge compliment, not to mention very arousing.

But beyond the scorching sex, these two actually talked. They had conversations all the time, so even though they had only been dating a short time before they fell in love, it made complete and believable sense. It wasn't just about two people who had incredible sex and decided they were soulmates. These two actually got to know each other a little bit before finally setting off those anticipated fireworks in the bedroom. Watching them fall in love through their conversations was unexpectedly sweet, and I say "unexpectedly" because they had such a strong and raging attraction where they could barely keep their hands off each other, yet it was through their talks that they truly bonded.

Now of course you can't talk about this book without talking about the aforementioned heated and raunchy sex. I found it all to be really hot and exciting. There's been some talk (okay Kati brought this up first and I should just call this Kati's other blog since I am always referring to her here LOL) about certain positions and whether or not they're hot, i.e. a woman sitting on a guy's face. I totally agree that it's not the most comfortable or sexy position, and more likely than not makes a woman feel very self-conscious, but at times like this I tend to suspend disbelief a little and let myself imagine that the hero is going to make it so freakin' good for her that she doesn't care what he's seeing as long as he's making her come. Of course then there's the ability to "hold the position" so to speak, and not suffocate the poor guy while he's working his magic. That takes a little more imagination to make it believable, but hey, it can be done.

I had written my comment on Kati's blog before I read the book, so while in theory it doesn't sound very sexy, I didn't have a problem with how it was written. Nor did I feel uncomfortable with it, or that I was jolted from the scene. In most cases, as long there's no pain or unwillingness, I am okay with what happens in the bedroom. Or the tent, as the case may be. And at one point early on, Imogen was completely upfront about what she didn't like, and Ty didn't try to change her mind about it either, and I thought that was cool. He obviously found other ways to please her, and they all seemed to work.

As to the secret Ty was keeping from Imogen, well I'm not going to spill the beans obviously, but I will say it opened up a whole lot of questions for them that were not unexpected, considering the brevity of their relationship. While they loved each other, their were some issues that needed to be brought out and discussed before they could live HEA, and the revelation Ty made was almost enough to end their relationship. Not so much because of the content of his secret, but because of the subsequent discussion they had afterwards. I think it was very important because they needed to have complete trust and honesty between them before they could take the next step. So while they were both giddy with the first blush of true love, there were some significant conversations to be had between them. I think it drives home that yes, love is very important, but so are the other components that go along with it - trust, understanding, honesty, respect. You need all of these things to have a strong and solid relationship, whether you've been together a month or a year.

Of course in this book we get to see Tamara and Elec still going strong, and then there's the much anticipated story of Suzanne & Ryder. These two definitely have a bond, but it doesn't look like it will be all that easy to find love again. I'm so curious to see how Erin will pull it off. But in the meantime, I going to savor Ty's and Imogen's love story, and probably read it again before June, when hopefully I'll get a chance to gush to Erin in person about how much I adored this book. It's definitely one for the keeper shelves.

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****

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  1. I just got this book in the mail last night and between you and Kati's reviews, I have high hopes for the book :D
    I hear Ty has quite the naughty mouth on him. Pass his some Orbitz gum.
    I have loved every single contemporary by Erin. She is a superstar :D
    Great review as always Stacy.

  2. Terrific review, Stace! I'm so glad you enjoyed Hard and Fast. I really enjoyed it too.

    I was LOL-ing at you talking about my blog. You have your own gorgeous world here, but I appreciate the shout-out.

    Great review!

  3. Great review, Stacy. I agree this cover is gorgeous and I'm a cucker for great covers.

    I think I'm going to add this one to my next book order. I'm supposed to be on a book "diet" but you make it sound so appealing. A hot romance + you said they talk alot. I love great dialogue. I need to try more contemps anyway.

    Thanks for the review.

  4. I was this book SOOOO bad. I loved the first one. Erin is always one of my favs.

  5. Very nice review. I am looking forward to this one too. What's not to like about that cover?

  6. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  7. Kate, I hope you enjoy it. Very sexy. Erin IS a superstar *g*

    Kati, I find myself always thinking about to your reviews and a lot of times I totally agree with you. What's not to like LOL

    Barbara, I really loved the fact that Ty and Imogen talked a lot. It wasn't just sexy talk either, and I found myself really enjoying their conversation. Yeah it was a hot book, but there was definitely a cerebral connection here. I hope if you decide to read it that you enjoy it.

    Kel, it's an awesome book. I know you're gonna love it.

    Ann, thank you - you made my day. It's always nice to hear from people, and now I'll have to check out your site.

  8. Very nice cover. Wow, can you get it poster size?

  9. Hey Stacy. I loved this book. Their conversations really got to me more then anything. I liked how he really listened to her and not just to be polite.

    Great review.
    Miss ya

  10. Great review Stacy - thank you! I've only just read Flat-Out Sexy (I know, I'm slow ;) and I can't wait for Hard and Fast!

    I hear Ty has quite the naughty mouth on him.

    Ohhhh *grin*

  11. Whoa baby that's one heck of a cover *fanning self* I just read this author for the first time and I loved her. I'm looking forward to reading this and her backlist.

  12. this looks cute!! I really enjoyed the first book and am looking forward to this one. Glad you enjoyed it.

  13. Toni, I'd love this one life-size *g*

    Judy, I adored that about Ty. He was really fascinated by how Imogen's mind worked. What a guy. Miss you too. June - less than 2 months away!

    Orannia, there are so many things to appreciate about Ty, not just hi naughty mouth. There are those hands....sigh.

    Giselle, I think you'll definitely enjoy this one. Erin has a great backlist.

    Kris, I'm glad you enjoy Erin's books. She's one of my faves

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