Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm giving Hot Finish 3 stars. It would probably have been less, but I don't want to torpedo the book's rating. The main reason I feel this way is the book's very first sex scene. I didn't like it. I would go so far as saying it affected my opinion of the characters. It's not that I thought they weren't a good match, but I didn't want to hang out with them. I didn't have a problem with Suz or Ryder in the first two books, but their interactions here rubbed me entirely the wrong way.
Ryder calls Suz a 'sexy bitch' after oral sex and McCarthy writes:
"And he used to call her sexy bitch all the time. It was a term of endearment some women might not like, but she loved it. It had told her that Ryder got her and her sense of humor, and he always said it with a grin, a satisfied smile, or an indulgent exasperation." -page 110
This is one of those times when I understand what the character is trying to convey, but I don't get it. I don't understand it. I think it's demeaning and it doesn't even happen again, although they have sex multiple times later on in the book. So why include it at all?
In addition, I found the sex scene between pages 113-119 to be jarring. I think the problem was that Suz and Ryder are basically an established couple. Sure, they're trying to find their way back to each other, but they already have a comfort level as a couple that allows them to be, um, a tad more raunchier than you would expect to find in a non-erotica romance.
Their communication throughout the book was awful. Suz was very defensive and seemed to treat Ryder worse than he deserved. Ryder seemed bewildered most of the time, like he had no idea what would set Suz off or what to do about it. And I'm sorry, and maybe it's because I'm single, but the big fight & the reason behind it? Suz was running scared and latched onto it as a pretext to extricate herself. Frankly, I found it to be rather immature behavior.
Hot Finish follows the other two books chronologically, so it takes place during NASCAR's off-season. I didn't know NASCAR had an off-season and I also don't know what "intensive training for Daytona" (pg.39) entails. I would've liked to find out. Aside from Ryder's profession as a driver, there was really no other 'sporty' element to the book. It's disappointing all around, but I'm willing to acknowledge that maybe after the awesomeness that was Hard and Fast, Hot Finish simply couldn't measure up.