FINAL LAP by Erin McCarthy: Twin Turbo Action


FINAL LAP CoverFast Track Series
by Erin McCarthy
Mass Market Paperback/E-book 304 pages
Penguin/Berkley (October 7, 2014)

E-galley provided by publisher for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.

Switching into high gear…

At a friend’s lavish wedding, Harley McLain and her twin sister, Charity, meet sexy stock-car driver Cooper Brickman. The more reserved Harley is immediately smitten—until he hits on her twin. But Harley has had enough of being the “nice” girl, and after trading dresses with Charity, she seduces Cooper for a night of wild sex.

…Ready for a hot lap.

What was supposed to be a one-night fling gets complicated when Cooper needs a nanny to look after his kid sister—and is convinced sweet, dependable Harley would be perfect for the job. She can’t resist the money—or Cooper’s hot bod. But when her deception is revealed, will it destroy her dependable image—or will he finally realize how sexy sweet can be?


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For me, an important aspect of sport-based romance novels/series is whether the premise and story are sport specific.  Could any sport, or activity even, be swapped in for whatever the sport in the book/series is?  If not, then the series might just be cashing in on a trend.

In this instance, the truth is that while I know very little about NASCAR, the story feels as if it is specific to the sport.  The way the racers travel, work in teams, seem related or family-based, do a lot of sponsor-based work and in this case, how the race works too, seems very well-researched.

And, it is also a foil for romance and family issues.

Here we have identical twins, one shy and one more extroverted.  And we have Cooper a driver who is attracted to one, but who thinks he has slept with the other.  Both women are sort of baby sitters: Harley, the shy sister, is a nanny and Charity, the more overtly sexy sister is a  rookie-driver-handler for the race team.

Cooper is a guy who has managed to keep himself clear of relationships. His mother’s behavior would scare any man away from marriage.  She’s even left him with his teen-aged sister who is a very precocious, sometimes naughty, home-schooled blogger.  He’s not home enough to watch her and keep her on the straight and narrow, or at least keep her out of the pit.

Harley ends up being a great family therapist, more than a nanny for his sister — basically helping him see that he can’t really help his sister without making her a priority.

At the same time the fling he thinks he had with her twin, and that she kept it all a secret, makes the feelings they have for each other very difficult for them to not feel guilty. When his mom re-enters the picture, it gets really messy. Secrets and lies are the main trope on which  the story relies: her having lied about her identity and his having had a secret liaison (he thinks) with her twin.

I found McCarthy’s portrayal of the NASCAR drivers and their families as well-educated, well-cultured, family-oriented playing against type. I had no idea the teams and drivers made the kind of money necessary for the type of lifestyle and accouterments she puts into the book!

The men, at least, drink more than enough to cause alcohol poisoning. This always bugs me, but it is common to the genre.

This was a fast, fairly enjoyable, and untaxing read with well-done relationship dynamics.  I read one of the other books, but this one has enough of its own story to be able to stand alone. And you don’t have to be a racing aficionado to get it.


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