Saturday, April 25, 2009

Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy ***

I read this for the Spring 2009 Challenge as a book reviewed in the Winter Challenge. There was an awful lot of buzz about this book as being a model for contemporary, non-paranormal romance, the likes of which readers haven't been able to find in books recently published.

Which is why I feel like Oscar the Grouch for rating it only 3 stars - aka Average. OK, I liked it. I liked the characters, I liked the storyline. It's probably considered "romantica" or romantic erotica - to me, partly that means to expect the characters in bed before page 100. And the sex is steaming too.

The characters are Tammy, the young widow of a race car driver, raising their 2 sons on her own, and Elec, a rookie race car driver, who is 6 years younger than Tammy. He's almost 26 and she's 32, and that is one of 2 major sticking points for Tammy who feels like she's robbing the cradle. The other is she doesn't want to be involved with any race car driver again for fear of losing him like she did her first husband.

Tammy bumps into Elec, literally, at a fund raiser peopled with race car folks, and the attraction is instant - the chemistry is there - and it's been a while for her. She has a couple too many glasses of wine, and with her inhibitions lowered, they end up doing the deed in a fellow driver's motorhome and spending the entire night. She's more than a little embarrassed when the friend shows up and catches them late the next morning - and spends a few days blushing and avoiding Elec.

Elec wants more of what he got that night - and eventually more of everything. He insinuates himself (credibly and sweetly, really) into her and her children's lives, and pretty soon everyone except her in-laws are aware there's something going on there. The 2 conflict points are a blonde bimbo stalker and the potential for danger in a race - which, when it happens, causes our brave heroine to run screaming in the other direction so she can get a lecture from her father-in-law. OK, there's also a plot that Elec's family and the in-laws are bitter enemies, but that is never really explained in detail and doesn't really cause much conflict.

All that aside - the writing style just did not appeal to me. The writing style, in my humble opinion, should be like lighting in a theatrical production. It should brilliantly illuminate the story without your ever being aware that it's there. When grammar errors and injudicious use of adjectives jolt me out of the story, it's like the a gel burning out on stage, making one spot glaringly white while the rest is in shades of amber and blue. I'm not sure if McCarthy herself does not know the difference between the use of "you and I" and "you and me", or if she is using that as a character defect (at least 3 times). But Tammy is a college professor, and if college professors don't know how to use those phrases correctly, we are in trouble. Then again, the style may have been reflecting some younger generation use of language to create a particular ambiance that I didn't get. Or maybe McCarthy just needs a better editor, which is what I think.

So - good story, hot sex, imperfect style. 3 stars. She's a new author for me, it might even be a series, so it meets a lot of criteria for me to read - so maybe I am Oscar The Grouch?

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