Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 306 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback
If Cade Nyland wins the SunCoast Run road rally, he'll be the first person to ever sweep every race in the season. It's a goal he's been working towards for years and now that it's in his grasp, he can almost taste victory. Unfortunately, it's a short taste, as he receives word that his mechanic has broken his leg and he won't be able to participate. Without a mechanic, Cade is out of the race.
Forced into taking time out of the search for a new mechanic to judge a tight butt competition...a humiliation that Cade couldn't care less about...he comes face to buns with the young woman who had just minutes before swung open her car door and put a big scrape in his classic car. The only thing good about her...beside her smoking hot body...is that just before she sauntered off on him, she'd given him the card of one TZ Blake, a mechanic with a stellar reputation who will hopefully be the key to Cade's racing salvation.
Tight Buns looks like a co-ed, but up on stage she shakes her goodies like a pro, and though Cade would never admit it, she gets his vote. She doesn't win, but when her name is called in the tie, Cade's day takes an even worse turn.
TZ Blake is a woman...with very Tight Buns.
She can't read a map and her car is a handful, but after her aunt's death and the dubious inheritance of a mechanic shop deep in debt, TZ needs the money Cade offers to spend four days racing with him down the state of Florida. He needs a mechanic, and in that regard, she's got him covered, but she knows nothing about rallying and the charts, racing lingo, and map reading are real concerns. The fact that she suspects something very peculiar is going on with her classic Mustang doesn't help matters, either.
A drop-dead gorgeous Cade Nyland intent on winning at all costs, a car that vibrates like a sex toy at full tilt and keeps rolling off on its own, and four days to wing being able to read a map. No doubt about it, she's going to drive him crazy.
I'm a fan of Kate Angell's Richmond Rogues series, and I was interested in reading some of her earlier stuff when I came across Drive Me Crazy. It definitely has some trademark Angell moments, with its wacky characters, light humor, and charm. Unfortunately, it also has two ancillary romantic plot lines that develop alongside TZ and Cade's, one of which I found completely distasteful, and together they limited the depth of the character definition and relationship evolution of the main pair, and hampered the plot of the book.
I don't have any complaints about TZ or Cade. They were likable. I think Angell tried to add a little conflict about the difference in their financial situations, but it wasn't fleshed out well and fell largely flat. More interesting were the...nuances of TZ's Mustang. I wish that had even more of a focus, actually...without TZ and Cade always referring to the car as the 'Stang. I got so sick of that by the end. How hard is it to say Mustang?
TZ's virgin friend and secondary character Kimmie was very hard to take. Not only do I have a big problem with a woman who glances at a guy and decides to marry him, but the manipulations and games she played to convince him she's his future wife were pretty disturbing for a modern woman. Brett was no more likable with his unwavering focus on getting Kimmie to sleep with him. Their pairing did nothing but annoy me.
I would have rather the focus stayed on the threads of suspense and the paranormal aspects. Even though I wasn't as turned off by the thread between Mike and Rissa, they didn't get as much page time, and their relationship evolved later in the book. It was too late by then to serve as a significant distraction to Kimmie and Brett. In fact, most of this book left me feeling like there was a lot of missed opportunity, as if what's there was okay, but could have been so much better with just a nip there or a tuck there.
Shifting focus just a little, widening the arc of the rally hijinks, explaining the main characters a little more, increasing the complexity of their story and fleshing them out more, all would have improved this book nicely. I didn't dislike it, but I can't actually say I liked it either.
It seems to me that Angell's skill and storytelling abilities have shown improvement over the years, judging from what I've read of the Rogues so far. Though I dislike baseball, Richmond Rogues snagged me from the start, and I'll always favor sports-centric stories over books that are car-centric. Richmond Rogues is just a better fit for my reading preferences, I think. I hope the next one is out soon.