Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Erin McCarthy - Hard and Fast - Fast Track Series 2

“An experiment in romance…

New to Charlotte, North Carolina, 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 topic for her sociology thesis. If she follows the rules on how to get a man, can she steer her way 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, Imogen 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 disappoint – he will satisfy her curiosity and make all the risks worthwhile…”

After reading Flat-Out Sexy it was a long wait till the release of Hard and Fast. I was never one for the car racing romance theme, it just did not appeal to me. Until this series, now I found myself waiting and eying my mailbox for my copy like a dog who eagerly awaits the return of his boss. The seed for the attraction between Ty and Imogen was already planted in Flat-Out Sexy so with Hard and Fast I could pick up where Flat-Out Sexy left off.

Because of the familiarity with the characters I was immediately pulled back into the story, enjoying and devouring every word. Ty is an easy going, likable, handsome guy who has made a name for himself in the stockcar racing business. Stockcar racing is his passion. He dates bimbos because they are low maintenance, all they want from him is a few moments in the racing spotlight and hot sex. He feels this attraction between him and Imogen and wants to give this relationship a serious go. He hides that he is dyslexic, he is ashamed of it and is very resourceful in hiding it, only one person knows about it. Because of his dyslexic he cannot wrap his brains around Imogen’s name and he playfully keeps calling her Emma Jean. Normally if a hero keeps forgetting a woman’s name it would irritate the hell out of me but Ty gets away with it, even if he weren’t dyslexic.

Imogen comes from a complete different background. Born and raised in New York she is a real city girl, she feels and is an outsider in Charlotte. She is a honest, loyal and hardworking woman but also lonely. She feels drawn to Ty but don’t know why, she realizes that if she wants to test her thesis that this is her change, so why not mix business with pleasure. I must say that I had some problems with Imogen’s character. I do like her but she has this tendency to over-analyze things, she has this need to explain everything with facts and science and therefore she sometimes comes across as someone who is not in touch with this world. So at first I could not wholly connect with her.

Opposites attract. And Ty and Imogen are complete opposites. They also let each other experience things they normally would not do. Imogen has persuaded Ty to read Shakespeare and Imogen has agreed to go camping with him. The camping trip is romantic but also has some hilarious scenes. It is funny to read how Ty sometimes totally do not understand Imogen’s scientific points of view but he is trying to make her feel more at home and less uptight. The love scenes are even more hot and sexy than the ones between Elec and Tamara. Especially the scene where Ty takes Imogen against the wall is breathtaking and scorching titillating.

The recurring characters in this story are also layered and rich, Tammy and Elec, Ryder, Suzanne, Elec’s family. Every time you turn a page you get to know them a little better, it incites you to even know more about them. These characters are like a safety net for Ty and Imogen, they are always there for support, to show their love and they always poke their noses into everything in kind of a funny way but they do so without dominating the story. It is going to be pure torture to wait for their own stories.

There is something about Erin McCarthy’s stories that turns you into this craving addict. This series leaves you all warm inside and has this feel-good vibe, it cheers you up. Erin McCarthy knows how to put a smile on your face and enchants you with this character-driven series. Her writing is fluent and fast-paced; she knows how to create different layers and depth in this series through her characters. Her characters all have so much more depth to them than they show at first sight. They grow and undergo changes while the story progresses. The dialogues are sometimes hilarious, making you laugh out loud or they are so hot you need to cool down before you can continue and sometimes they are simple so emotional that you need to get rid of that lump in your throat.


“Nikki was using Ty for fame and fortune. Imogen wanted him to recognize that at the same time she didn’t want him to suffer hurt feelings. “I can see that,” he said slowly. “I know exactly why Nikki is involved with me. It’s for my money and her share of the racing spotlight. It doesn’t exactly bother me because I know it is what it is, and I am not in any danger of falling in love with her.” His knee bumped Imogen’s when he shifted in his chair. “But the truth is, I want to be some woman’s work boots, not her high heels.” “Work boots?” What was sexy about that? And did women have work boots? “Yeah. You know, the boots she pulls out when she wants to get down and dirty, hiking or gardening or boating or painting the kitchen. The ones she relies on and trusts and lives her life hard and good and on her terms in. Her favorites.”

With Hard and Fast Erin McCarthy lives up to the high expectations I had after reading Flat-Out-Sexy. Although Ty and Imogen are not my favorite characters in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and loved this story. This series is getting better and better and is definitely one of my favorite contemporary romance series, one you will reread every once in a while!

PS Look at those covers of Flat-Out-Sexy and Hard and Fast!!!!! Wowwwww!!!!!!

4,5 stars

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Meredith Duran - Bound By Your Touch

“Beauty is as beauty does…

Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London’s favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself, as she has always done. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous. But Sanburne’s golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim façade to the woman beneath… and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger lies within – in the shadowy, secret motives of his heart.”

Meredith Duran’s debut novel, The Duke of Shadows, blew me away and is considered one of the best historical reads of 2008. That story grabbed me by the throat and made quite an impact on me. The writing, the characters, the plot, I devoured every word on every page. The expectations for her next story were high and I knew the minute I got my hands on Bound by Your Touch that everything on my ridiculous huge to-be-read pile had to budge for this book. When I read the synopsis I had my doubts if this story could equal her debut novel, after all Miss Duran had set the bar so high with that one. So a bit skeptical, but open minded, I begun to read.

And of course my doubts were put to rest for Meredith Duran wrote yet another fantastic story. Lydia Boyce is considered a blue-stocking and a spinster. She does not possess the great beauty her two sisters have and has thrown herself into her father’s business, as his representative she sells Egyptian artifacts to support their family and her father’s research in Egypt. She adores her father and trusts him completely. Then at a meeting where she tries to raise funds for her father’s research the viscount of Sanburne steals her spotlight and from that moment on her life will never be the same again.

James, viscount Sanburne, has but one goal in life, to antagonize his father as much as possible. He always wants to outwit his father with ancient artifacts and now some blue-stocking is telling him his newest artifact he solely bought to outdo his father is a fake. James is a jaded man, seen it all, done it all. He is more drunk than sober and nothing can hold his interest. But Lydia piques his interest, keeps him entertained whether she likes it or not. When Lydia realizes that this fake artifact was shipped by her father she must investigate it, but she cannot do that without involving James. At first this is just another game for James to entertain himself, but that soon changes as he truly wants to help Lydia in more ways than one. In the end they both get more than they bargained for.

Miss Duran’s writing is classic, elegant and refined but at the same time she knows how to stir up all those raw emotions that will give you a lump in your throat. Her writing is sometimes lyrical and you could say that this has become a trademark of Miss Duran. It is also fluent and therefore reads like clockwork, there are not many writers who can describe a simple kiss or a love scene the way she does. The way she sketches the first time that James and Meredith make love left goose bumps all over me and I almost forgot to breathe. Those scenes are put to paper with such intensity, and so poetical you forget the world around you.

Bound By Your Touch starts with a prologue that immediately captures your attention. It provides you with an insight why Lydia is the way she is. Here she is laying her heart bare to the man she thinks she loves only to be jilted by him and then to her humiliation he marries her sister. It is a life-changing moment for Lydia. But after this sizzling start it really took me a couple of chapters to immerse in this story and I was afraid that the story could not hold my attention. But I was hooked the moment James and Lydia decide to join forces so they can solve the mystery that surrounds the fake artifact. Their encounters are sassy, hot and breathtaking.

Both Lydia and James got hurt in the past, betrayed. Lydia got ditched and society labeled her an old spinster, so she acts the part accordingly. But James makes her betray her role, her body reacts to him in ways she did not know existed and she realizes she feels more alive than ever but she also cannot shake off her role as an old spinster. It makes her a bit uptight and she struggles to break free from the role society pressed upon her. James also plays the devil’s advocate when it comes to her father’s business but Lydia simply refuses to have doubts, because her father and his business mean the world to her.

Sanburne has it all, the looks, the title and the money and property that come with it. He has this cold war going on with his father; he cannot forgive his father for what he has done. Therefore he plays the rakish son to embarrass and hurt his farther. It oppresses him that one day he has to follow in his father’s footsteps. Lydia is like a breath of fresh air to him and she constantly surprises him. Both Lydia as James grow more balanced during the story, both have issues to cope and deal with, they are like a mirror to one another. They help each other to understand themselves better.

At first you suspect that James is the one who has to come around. However, in the end it is not him but Lydia who has trouble with facing the facts in her naivety. Beneath his rakish façade James is a very strong, honorable and caring man. Lydia helps him to peel back all the layers he has created around himself to numb the pain and to face his demons so he can let go of the past. But she does not allow him to return the favor because she is too headstrong and won’t listen to reason. While James finally figures things out and try to set things right Lydia somehow cannot face the truth. And that annoyed me big time, for she is so smart and is willingly ignoring all the signs.

Their conversations are lively, so full of wit, sarcasm and banter. They are fast-paced and certainly lit up the first half of the story. The second half of the story is much more emotional as of course the relationship between James and Lydia changes into something more meaningful, their feelings grow for one another although they playfully try to hide these feelings. I love the way Meredith Duran portrays her characters, how she interlaces a character-driven love story perfectly with a strong suspense plot. The suspense plot is less impressive and more predictable than the one in DOS, but it still is believable and exciting. Of course there are many additional characters and they all play their part, some obvious and some not so obvious but they all blend into the story.

Bound By Your Touch is another winner. Her elegant and classic, but intense style of writing adds something special to this story. It allows the emotions to scream of the pages, the love scenes are moving and the plot is addictive. After a stunning debut Duran has written a worthy successor that met my expectations. Bound By Your Touch did not knock me off my feet the way The Duke of Shadows did but still Duran’s writing leaves you aching for more. Bound By Your Touch is steeped with historical details; it is emotional and sensual rich. Her characters are rounded and Duran has a gift to capture the romance with her writing so it comes to live.

Duran has become an auto buy author for me.

4 stars

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Winner of the Pamela Palmer giveaway...


And the winner is....


There were 16 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

Maija P
Carol L
Loretta Canton
Book City Chick
Eva S

Timestamp: 2009-09-02 14:01:37 UTC

Stacy I will contact you for details via e-mail.