Published by Lauren Blakely Books on May 1st 2017
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Let’s be honest, ladies. A good man is a lot like the perfect car. You want a hot body, an engine that purrs, and superior performance under the hood...for the best joy ride of your life.
I’m at your service. Ready to go all night long.
But then a wildly sexy brunette appears in my life and throws a wrench in all my plans. She’s fiery, she’s talented, she’s gorgeous, and I’d really like to know what makes her engine hum.
Henley also happens to be my biggest rival, and now we’re forced to work together every day on the most important custom car build of my career. The trouble is I can’t quite figure out if she wants to kick me in the lug nuts or beg me to give her a good, hard fuel injection. Until one night that question is answered on the hood of a sports car when she calls out my name three times. And we can’t seem to put on the brakes.
If sleeping with the enemy is a bad idea, how much more dangerous would it be to fall in love with her?
‘Joy Ride’ is an entertaining read, though not quite something I could take seriously, to be frank. In the latest in the series of books featuring the male POV written in first person, Max Summers (the proud king of one-night stands—ugh) finally falls in lust with a rival whom he’d fired from his shop five years ago because she’s irresistible and presents the greatest challenge to his concentration and his dick. Forced to work with her on a big-time project, it’s a guarantee that everything will blow up in their faces, if it hasn’t in bed already. In ‘Joy Ride’, the setting ensures that there are tons of racing and sports metaphors, complete with innuendoes and a goodly amount of hate sex after Max’s uncontrollable lust reaches boiling point.
The male perspective being written from a female author’s POV is a highlight of this series especially when it first began, as I began to suspect it was pretty much what women want to really hear—it’s fun fiction with a huge load of imagination after all—and what they want to read. And it’s this strange meta that assails me each time I come back to this series as gender discourse and narratives styles do loops through my head. The amount of reflection Max does on objectification and the reaffirmation of how men act irrationally because of their attraction to women do seem like confirmation of the reading desires of the independent, twenty-first-century contemporary romance reader after all.
Yet there’s also this laddish, cocky, arrogant tone throughout that simultaneously makes me roll my eyes and cringe at the frequent ‘male’ thoughts of sex, women, sports and cars that run through these protagonists’ minds along with the inadvertent realisation of all the male shortcomings that readers typically love. After having been through a few of this series however, I do find it hard to differentiate Max Summers from any of the other heroes that have come before him; the similarities in their voices have brought me to the point where it seems that these characters could have been interchangeable…and I wouldn’t have known the difference if not for their names and the varying details of their occupations.
On the other hand, I found myself liking Henley very much. Strong, determined and with a take-no-prisoners attitude, I loved her single-minded effort in working her way to the top of a male-dominated business, then loved her more for excelling at it and not compromising her femininity and her personality quirks while doing so. In short, the woman comes out on top, even the man also wins the object of his lust/affections at the end. Forgive the meta that comes through each time I take on this series: ‘Joy Ride’ ensures that the heroine’s never short-changed, while guaranteeing that her man is an equal pillar of support. It’s a win-win resolution, I imagine.