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This was supposed to be posted yesterday but my internet went down. :( It's still rather rocky but I wanted to try to backpost this.
My apologies, Ms Gregory, for the slight delay here!
Title: Racing to Love
Author: Amy Gregory
Series: Carter’s Treasure #1
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Romance / chick lit
Length: 214 pages
Story: From the outside, Molly West had everything, beauty, brains, and a career she'd retired from not once, but twice. Being in the limelight and in a sport that was male driven, she was often surrounded by men. She ignored first the boys, and as she got older, the men. Her cold shoulder and patented not a chance in hell look were usually enough to get her point across. Molly had no plans in changing what was a perfectly good system. That is until she walked into the pits. Carter Sterling had traveled the racing circuit since he was a boy. He'd heard all the old standbys, She's out there somewhere, love comes along when you least expect it. Good things come to those that... Yeah, he'd heard them all. The last place he expected to meet the love of his life was on a pro track. All she did was smile, and he knew, looking into her sapphire blue eyes, Molly West was his. Forever. If it was only that easy. From the moment he laid eyes on her, he had a gripping feeling in him. An overwhelming need to protect her-a girl he'd just met. Carter had learned a long time ago that gut feelings are almost never wrong. Molly now held his heart in her hands, but it was going to take a lot more than just love to protect her from the past she thought she'd buried a long time ago.
Thoughts and impressions: I’m going to be honest here: I had a hard time even getting going with this story.
First of all, even as it starts the two characters go against what the synopsis led me to expect of them, specifically Molly. For a woman abused in her youth, with trust issues and no time of day for men, it just didn’t feel natural to me when she immediately welcomed Carter’s physical advances. They were just little things, like laying his hand on her thigh, but it all felt as though it moved far, far too fast. I know it was supposed to be a whirlwind romance but the result of this is that I was not invested in the relationship between the two characters. I missed out on build up of feelings and consequently I wasn’t as interested in the outcome of their relationship as I would have preferred to be. I could have done with an additional 50 pages or so of Molly learning to be more open to the possibilities that Carter is offering her.
Second, the book is written in the third person but in a POV that has access to the characters’ innermost thoughts rather than just observing actions. The POV jumps between characters from one paragraph to the next with nothing to show that such a jump has taken place. Towards the beginning of the book I found it hard to keep up with the seemingly random jumps.
Once I’d actually got into the story, things started to improve for me. But as I eased into the style, I become more aware of the fact that there’s actually very little plot to it at all. Everything focuses on the relationship, but there’s never any doubt about the outcome there so you’re more reading to see their relationship than to watch them overcome the obstacles in their way. This said, there are an awful lot of romance books out there where you see this sort of thing. It’s just that I usually prefer mine with a more substantial plot around the romance itself.
Admittedly there is an attempt at an external threat when Molly starts receiving threatening letters. Unfortunately, this isn’t really explored to the full potential that it presented. All things considered, it resolved far too quickly and easily; the perpetrator’s reasoning isn’t really gone into beyond scratching the surface enough to establish a reason; and other characters’ involvement – however unwilling – isn’t even touched on.
This is balanced by Molly slowly learning to stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions outside of the supportive network that her adoptive family had set up for her when she came to them. She had to let go of the past in order to fully embrace her future. I vastly enjoyed this part of the story! Seeing her stand up to people who claim to have her best interests at heart (but are not listening to her when she tells them that this is what she wants) inspired a feel-good feeling that lasted throughout the rest of the novel.
Carter was possibly a little too on the perfect side, but again this is something you see a lot so I’m willing to overlook it.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*
Style: The one thing that bugged me the most with this style was the persistent use of “drug”. The past tense of drag is dragged, not drug. Drag is not an irregular verb.
There was another one of my pet hates in here. “I’d never of believed it otherwise.” In this case, the author is aware of how to use the past tense of the conditional as she used it correctly in other places, but it still really, really annoys me whenever I see “of” used instead of “have”.
There was some incorrect word use, such as: “The waiting room of the ER had been overtaken by their friends and family.” Taken over, not overtaken.
And there was some clunky phrasing, such as: “Their whole table let out a collective breath”. I get what the author is trying to say here, but it’s still clunky.
Other than this, once I’d settled into the style, I enjoyed it!
Final verdict: The story was a light, easy read that turned out to be enjoyable despite my initial wariness. I would have preferred more of a focus on external threats, though. 3 stars
Extra notes: Both bad language and sex are present.
Read an excerpt:
“Sometimes,” he whispered, “there’s a bigger plan out there and we don’t have the answers to it.”
“Sure feels like that, huh? It’s kinda scary, don’t you think?”
“Why’s that?” He stroked her back. “You’re not scared of me, are you?”
“No, no, not at all. It’s this. I mean, twelve hours ago life was very different. I was missing home and my family and I wasn’t ready to be gone for four months.”
She couldn’t help the sickening feeling she just had. James. Ugh. She’d thrown the equivalent of a temper tantrum before they’d left town. She had just gotten home from one contract job to find out that two days later she had to leave for another. And this was a long one. When he found out she not only wasn’t mad anymore, but that she was excited about being here—God, he’d never let her live it down. Then he’d lecture her on men.
She had that one memorized, probably because she’d heard it regularly since she was fourteen years old. She only mimicked it verbatim when his back was turned. She loved the man with all her heart, but she had to admit she was a teensy bit worried about how he’d take the news of Carter. Well, more than a teensy bit. She was more like scared to death for Carter’s safety. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep the smile under control. She didn’t want to scare the man off by explaining what was going through her mind at that moment, especially since he’d stuck out the panic attack.
“But now?” he asked in his low, sexy voice, hugging her to him.
He continued to rub her back and rested his cheek on the top of her head. He didn’t know it, but his voice was such a comfort to her. When he lowered it like that, it could almost slip her into a peaceful trance.
“But now, I want time to stand still.” She pulled in a breath of his cologne, his scent like a magnet.
“We’re moving really fast, Carter.”
She knew it was one kiss, a hell of a kiss, but—one kiss. But combined with other comments he’d slipped in here and there? She knew what he meant when he said she was the one. He was talking about something much bigger than just a weekend fling. She wouldn’t have done that anyway, but he was making this into more. Way more.
Plus, if she had to be honest, he deserved points. Most men would have run like their ass was on fire when they saw her in a heap of tears on the floor. He hadn’t. He’d been sweet, nurturing, and if she wasn’t mistaken, scared to death. He also hadn’t pushed her. He hadn’t made her feel bad when she denied his earlier kiss, he hadn’t pushed her to talk when she wasn’t ready, and he wasn’t pushing for more right now. He seemed happy to go at the pace she was setting.
“Fast is relative. When its right, you don’t measure it, and we aren’t teenagers.” He laughed lightly. “You can’t even consider us young adults anymore, Gorgeous. And look at the thousands of people who go to bed together the first night they meet or have one night stands.”
“That’s not me,” she said softly, then shut her eyes.
“I know, baby.” He had figured out that she was only confident and out-spoken around their big group. When he was alone with her, she was quiet, sweet, and vulnerable. He grinned to himself, completely in love with both sides of her already, but also proud that she trusted him. Seeing first-hand how fast she could throw a wall up against men that wanted to be with her.
“Carter, I have never really had a boyfriend before.” She took a deep breath at her admission.
“Never? I find that hard to believe.”
“No. There was never anyone worth the effort of a long distance relationship. We grew up on the road. Hell, I’m still on the road a lot. You live the same way, you know what it’s like. So why bother? I have been on a few dates over the last few years, but just a date and usually just once. It doesn’t take long to figure out that they’re all just the same. But here…tonight…with you? I’ve been acting like a ditzy, flirty girl. I’ve been hanging on you all night. Uh…your friends are going to think I’m easy.”
“I knew you were the kind of girl to worry about that.”
“I do. Look, it started a fight.”
“There was nothing you did that started that fight. I promise you, Molly. That was all on Martins. He’s a jackass. Don’t you dare feel guilty over that. Please? And as for you hanging on me, you weren’t. But I’ll admit, I like it. I like having your hand in mine, my arm around you. I love your head on my shoulder. I could tell you were able to relax around me. If you consider all that hanging on me, I’ll take it.”
“That’s a man answer.” She softly chuckled.
With her still in his arms, he whispered in her ear in an even lower voice, one with an edge to it, “I am a man.”
Her stomach did another flip flop, but then her mind caught up and her heart dropped. Like you need to remind me? She looked up at him with an eyebrow raised. “Yeah, and I’m sure you’ve got women throwing themselves at you.”
“I don’t believe that for a minute.”
“Carter, you are incredibly good looking and you have killer eyes. So no, I don’t believe you.” A cocky, slow grin danced across his face. “Oh, don’t you look at me like that,” she teased. “You know you’re absolutely amazing, don’t play innocent with me.” His hands slid down to her butt, pulling her as close as he possible could.
“Oh yeah?” He raised his eyebrows up at her a couple of times.
“Yeah.” Her eyes were as wide as saucers, but she wasn’t minding that his hands were on her, and she was loving the crooked grin on his face. It made him appear almost boyish when just seconds before he was—almost—hungry. Boyish she could handle. Hungry scared the shit out of her.
“Am I worth a long distance relationship?”
Her heart went from zero to sixty from the excitement and the fact he really did like her. Karen had always told her there would be someone. She felt her insides go gooey and her cheeks get warm.
Feeling a little braver, she said, “Depends.” She grinned up at him, getting a small thrill off the control.
He squeezed her butt. It was a total possessive move on his part and she knew it. “Oh yeah? On what?”
“On how long it takes you to kiss me again.”
“That I can do, Gorgeous.”
She slid her arms up to his neck and smiled at him. Then she bit her bottom lip. He smiled his slow, sexy grin that kept driving her insane. There went the control, back to Carter—she had no power against that smile. “What? You’re staring.” She giggled nervously. She gave herself a mental slap upside the head for sounding like a goofy teenage girl.
He smiled down at her and she melted all over again. “I’m just…”
“Just making me nervous,” she finished for him.
“I just can’t get over the fact that I get to be the man holding you. I get to be the man to kiss you.”
“I was thinking that I’m the lucky one.”
He leaned down to kiss her and she slid one palm to his cheek. With her other hand, she threaded her fingers through the back of his hair just as she parted her lips to kiss him. When he pulled her even closer to him, she sighed. The move was intentional. He needed her to know how much he wanted her—to feel how badly he wanted her. A part of him needed her to know how hard he was struggling to keep himself under control, to silently prove to her she was safe with him.
He broke the kiss and pulled her tight to him, the man in him wishing she wouldn’t object to going back to his motorhome. But he knew she wasn’t ready for that. He drew back. “Oh my God.” He breathed heavily, just standing there holding her, willing himself to behave. Carter finally caught his breath and pulled away a few inches to look at her before he leaned his forehead to hers. “Oh girl, what you do to me.”
She looked up at him and graced him with the sweetest smile he had ever seen. “I don’t want to let you go,” she whispered.
“So…” he replied just as quietly, “Don’t. Tell me I’m worth it, that you’ll do long distance. Please.”
She reached up to kiss him gently. “You’re worth everything.”
Amy Gregory leads an incredibly active lifestyle in Kansas City with her husband and their three fantastic kids who keep them running in three very different directions. When she’s not rushing her oldest daughter to tumbling, her youngest daughter to music lessons, or sitting track-side watching her son practice motocross, she’s taking the few minutes in between to scribble the next pages in her Racing to Love series.
When asked, “When do you have time to write?” Amy Gregory giggles. “In bits and pieces,” she says.
Amy is known for her snarky, off the cuff sense of humor, which you’ll find shining through in the characters she’s created. Her debut novel, Racing to Love, Carter’s Treasure, is set for release June 7, 2012.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and now I’ve finally found it. – Amy Gregory
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Twitter - @AmyGregory548