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Book Cover C2’s review of The Chase (Fast Track, Book 4) by Erin McCarthy
Contemporary Romance published by Berkley 5 Apr 11

With The Chase, Erin McCarthy zooms back into the world of NASCAR. This go-around longtime supporting character Evan Monroe is racing for his happily ever after, but will he cross the finish line or end up in the pits?

Evan Monroe is struggling in the current racing season – he isn’t finishing well, his sponsors are unhappy and putting pressure on him to do better – and suddenly he’s seeing a face that brings back a lot of unhappy memories.

Kendall Holbrook is one of the few female NASCAR drivers and she is having a very good season.  Her sponsors are happy, her team manager is happy, and things are looking up for her racing career.  As exciting as things are in her professional life, Kendall’s personal life is beyond dull.  She hasn’t been on a date in ages and hasn’t had a steady boyfriend for even longer.  Concentrating on her career has taken precedence over everything else.  Plus, she’s gun-shy…she still hasn’t gotten over a teenage heartbreak.

When Kendall’s best friend, Tuesday, finds out (after inviting him to meet her for a drink) Evan and Kendall dated during their late teens, she is surprised Kendall never mentioned it before. But when Tuesday tries to find out more about the relationship, Kendall gets flustered and won’t give details.  So Tuesday asks Evan and is surprised to hear that he considered the relationship a serious one until Kendall just stopped returning his calls without ever saying why.

Tuesday arranges (with a bit of threatening) for Kendall and Evan to get together to talk about what happened.  Kendall finally admits she took exception to a comment Evan made about her wanting to race and assumed he wouldn’t support her dreams.  So she dumped him.  Umm…seriously? Without any discussion at all?

I am not fond of Kendall.  She strikes me as very immature – which is excusable, sort of, at 18 but not at 28.  And I’m not sure she ever completely apologized for the breakup.  She must have because they hooked up again pretty quickly (even if it was just for “closure,” supposedly).  I get that she felt a lot of pressure and got a lot of criticism when she picked a traditionally male career.  I’m sure it’s very difficult and continued to be difficult to wrestle with people’s preconceived notions.  Using that as an excuse to push away someone who cares about you?  Nope.

Still, it doesn’t seem to stop Evan and Kendall from rekindling their relationship – the chemistry is still there and both are older and wiser, more or less.  But their lives are very entwined and yet moving in different directions.  Evan’s racing season isn’t going well – even though he does get a new sponsor – and Kendall is doing extremely well. Evan is thinking it may be time for him to stop racing and try something else and Kendall’s racing career is on the upswing.  Their managers aren’t in favor of them having a public relationship, their team owner doesn’t like the idea of them dating.  But Evan and Kendall are happier together than they ever were apart, so they decide to try.

I admit I never paid much attention to Evan in Ms. McCarthy’s previous books.  I just thought of him as the happy-go-lucky, not-too-bright smart ass brother/pal.  As it turns out, he has much more depth than I ever imagined.  Being dumped by Kendall at 19 really hurt him – he had planned to propose even – and he never really got over it.  Evan turns out to be sweeter and more self-aware than I would have ever thought.

The plot twist near the end (no spoilers here, faithful reader) is not needed and, to me, it muddies the plot.  Maybe Ms. McCarthy thought there isn’t enough conflict, but why can’t we just watch characters learn from each other and grow without craziness to spur them along?  All the steps forward the characters have managed over the course of the book are
suddenly wiped out.  I understand that it maybe helps Kendall gain some insight into her life and character, but I still find it annoying. Surely Kendall could have figured things out without that sort of jolt.

Usually this type of storyline is right up my alley.  I am left slightly disappointed with The Chase because of the characterization of Kendall and the twist near the end.  So does this book stand alone? More or less…when characters from the previous books arrive on scene, enough info is given that a new reader would probably feel comfortable. For readers of the previous book, there are nice updates for all the previous couples.  And next up for her happy ending is Kendall’s friend Tuesday.  She is an intriguing character, so I’m looking forward to her story.

CSquareds C2 Icon Grade: C-


When racing for the checkered flag…

Kendall Holbrook is determined to make it to the top, even with the challenge of being a woman on the male-dominated racing circuit.  She doesn’t have time for romance – especially not with racing rival Evan Monroe, the man who nearly crushed her dream years ago.  Forced into meeting up with him, Kendall is experiencing all those old feelings again – and she can’t deny that they still have more than enough chemistry to set fire to the track.

…expect a few speed bumps.

After getting dropped by his biggest sponsor, Evan is watching his racing season go up in flames.  Now, the only replacement available is completely humiliating: a co-sponsorship for his-and-her deodorant with Kendall Holbrook – the girl who once broke his heart.  Acting like Kendall doesn’t still get him all hot and bothered is bad enough, but the biggest challenge awaits him on the track – where Evan has to decide if a second chance at love is more important than making it to the finish line…

Read an excerpt.

Other books in the series:

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