Speed Dating by Nancy Warren / Free Books from Harlequin

OK, if you're like me and subscribe to a good 80 some book blog feeds, you'll have heard this news several times over. Harlequin celebrated its 60 anniversary by putting up 16 ebooks to download for FREE. I was going to go see what I liked and just download those, but I ended up downloading them all! Ha..

Here's the link for downloading: www.harlequincelebrates.com

Harlequin has pretty much something from every one of it's lines. I am going to try to read all 16 books, we'll see how that goes. So far I have one down.


Taking my little Lenovo Ideapad S10, I started reading the NASCAR offering by Nancy Warren: Speed Dating. I know, I am so not interested in NASCAR, but eh, why not? At least there's a smiling guy on the cover who looks semi-cute and not bare chested. I'm tired of guys with creepily shaved chests, likely on steroids, with a silly dramatic expression on their faces being on romance covers. Is that sexy to people?

Anyway. The premise is that stiff, 31 year old actuary, Kendall Clarke finds out that her equally bland fiance Marvin has been having an affair with another coworker, and that coworker is pregnant. This is hours before Kendall is supposed to be awarded at an association dinner. Reeling from the blow, Kendall gets locked out of the room in her slip. Of course, she sneaks into another guest's room at the hotel when she sees 3 of her bosses walking down the hallway, and through a misunderstanding ends up pretending to be the girlfriend of stock car racer Dylan Hargreave at his ex-wife's wedding.

Yes, a hokey beginning! I was almost going to write this off as pretty cliched. Kendall wears bland suits in various shades or beige and brown, quotes statistics and calculates risks in her head, while feeling like she's not spontaneous enough. She acts completely out of character to prove something to her ex, and spends most of the evening in her underwear at a wedding?!

But – crazy as this start was, about midway, the book got better. I ended up thinking: hey I may actually kinda like some things in this book. Let's list:

  • The characters ended up having more depth. Well, Martin was sort of a jackass but he was forgotten soon enough. Dylan, the hero, was a truly nice guy. He treated women respectfully, was polite to fans, has cold parents, but turned out OK for the most part. I didn't quite buy why he thought he wasn't a guy someone should commit to, but that was minor. His ex-wife Ashlee acted like a spoiled drama queen, but she had her own nice qualities, and the love triangle between Dylan, Ashlee and her husband Harrison was an interesting plotline as was the way it was finally resolved.  I kept expecting characters to just be one-dimensional and was pleasantly surprised when they were not.
  • Kendall does grow a bit, and she becomes much less stiff and boring and more like a normal person. And she is  smart which was nice.
  • The relationship starts out as more of a friendship than a result of raging hormones. How refreshing. Although there's a lot of kissing going on as part of their cover relationship, and ok, lots of touching which didn't seem like just friends only to me, they ease into their feelings for one another over several weeks. The sex was very minimal in the book, the romance was a bigger focus. In fact, the sex happens literally behind a closed door. 
  • When Kendall and Dylan spend time together alone, especially the down time at his house, they were kind of a sweet couple.
  • And I learned a couple of things. NASCAR related facts. Plus this book used the word "animadversions". Nice!

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