Flat Out Sexy

Erin McCarthy
2008, Contemporary Romance
Berkley Sensation, $14.00, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425224074

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Hot

When Flat-Out Sexy arrived in my mailbox for review, I eagerly opened the package to begin reading. My eyes immediately locked on the, uh, bulging cover and as they continued to drift in that direction, I knew this was one book I would have been too shy to carry to my local bookstore register. While the cover led me to expect frequent sex scenes tied together with a weak story line, what I discovered Instead was a fun character-driven romance set among the world of race car driving, highlighted with some great love scenes.

Car racing was the center of Tamara Brigg's world and it called upon her to make a great sacrifice for the sport – giving her husband in death to a car racing accident two years before. Although she still loves the sport, Tamara is determined to never again allow racing to consume every minute of every day. When and if she chooses a future mate, she wants him to come home for dinner after a regular nine-to-five job and, instead of tempting fate by driving around a track at 185 mph every weekend, she wants him to be at home cutting the grass. Tamara lives alone with her two children and has not yet had much desire to date – that is, until she spills wine on a gorgeous, dreamy guy one night at a party.

All Elec Monroe wanted at the moment was to find an excuse to leave the charity fund raiser and this beautiful woman just gave him one. Elec (yes, I had to subtract a point or two for that name) is an up and coming rookie driver who, as a member of an elite racing family, has the sport bred into his genes. Tamara doesn’t dare imagine how it would feel to be with such a young, magnificent specimen of a man but finds she can do more than dare when they share a ride. She has reason to assume Elec is a member of a friend’s pit crew rather than an off-limits driver and, therefore, considers him safe for a bit of flirtation. However, the undeniably strong attraction between the two is mutual and they spend the night in each other’s arms.

A considerate and determined man, Elec doesn’t have a domineering bone in his body. But that doesn’t mean he won’t pursue what he wants and Tamara is definitely that. Once she discovers Elec is a driver, Tamara goes out of her way to avoid his company and, thereby, any temptation. In addition to his career as a driver, she doesn’t want her children to grow close to someone who may not be around for long, then there is the fact that her family hates his family. But most of all, how can Tamara take a man seriously who is six years younger than she is? How can he ignore all of her stretch marks and her tummy pooch when he usually dates only women with perfect bodies?

The first in a new series, Flat-Out Sexy is a straightforward love story without a mystery, villain, or over the top characters except for a pesky want-to-be other woman. Both Tamara and Elec are immensely likable characters and the development of their romance is believable – even their first night together. I felt the intense chemistry between the two immediately and it held fast throughout the book. At times, the sensuality rating runs close to burning.

Tamara’s fears are well founded, in my eyes. After all, who wants to live with the fear of losing yet another loved one to racing? Although this is an amusing tale, there is also a depth to Tamara and Elec’s relationship that I found noteworthy. With the exception of her vampire series, I have read all of Erin McCarthy’s books and I think she keeps getting better at writing this tender side of romance.

The progression of the story was mostly predictable, but delightful nonetheless. Unfortunately, that predictability kept this one from DIK status, although it remains a book I will keep to read again. A very charming light read, I’ll just need to tuck this bulging cover a little deeper in the closet.

-- Lea Hensley

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