HQN, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77222-3
Contemporary Romance, 2008
I am late by a few days with this month’s TBR Challenge Review, but that’s because I had to make a trip and couldn’t be online much during those few days. Also, I forgot to pack a book suitable for the theme of a highly recommended book. I managed to find a copy of this book in a used book store, so I suppose I can say that this book was recommended to me by… chance? Fate? Kismet? That’s my story and I’ll be sticking to it.
On the Move has a bad boy sports jock paired with a more responsible lady. I can’t help thinking of those movies Bull Durham and Tin Cup while reading this one, although those comparisons can be frustrating because, you see, when it comes to bad boys, I always feel that they need to be challenged in order to be interesting. Pair him with someone he can run roughshod over, and he instead comes off as a boring jackass who has everything coming too easily to him. Brandon Burke is, alas, that kind of hero who is paired with Vicki Bradford, that kind of heroine.
Brandon is the bad boy of the race track, and he was recently brought into NASCAR by KEM Motorsports despite him having a record of disgraceful behavior that is miles long. His agent is the kind of asshole who prefers to delegate – I’m sure you sure that kind of people in your workplace – and hence, Vicki Bradford is sent to keep Brandon in line. She initially is sent merely to stop Brandon from breaching his contract by racing on a bike, and when he ignores her, she has his bike taken away and locked in a men’s room. Far from being displeased, her boss promotes her to junior agent, makes Brandon her client, and tells her to head off to North Carolina with Brandon to make sure that he behaves. You know what will happen between them, I’m sure.
Brandon… oh boy, I don’t even know where to start. He often comes off as arrogant but not very bright, by deliberately not reading the contracts he has signed, breaking them without any regard because he’s sure that other agents are desperate to sign him up (actually, they aren’t), and much of his coming on and pick-up lines to Vicki may not sit well with some readers as they can often cross the line into sexual harrassment. Of course, he’s cute, so I suppose that makes his behavior sexy rather than something out of #MeToo? The author tries to make the hero palatable by predictably piling on the angst, daddy drama, and sad stories on Brandon, of course.
Now, on my part, I actually find Brandon quite an appealing bad boy at many instances in this story. But at the same time, the author ruins the delicate balance between her hero being a bad boy and irrelevant jackass by deliberately forcing Vicki into positions of weakness when it comes to the him.
Vicki, on her own, is actually a fun heroine. She has self awareness, she is out of her depths at times but she has the determination to make things happen for herself, and her sense of humor is infectious. Unfortunately, she needs to keep her job, so she frets and worries about her boss finding out each time Brandon comes on strong and paws her here and there. Every time she gets the upper hand, she worries about losing her job, second guesses herself, and immediately loses any higher ground she has gained back to the hero. Worse, the hero knows from the beginning that she’s hot for him because apparently she blushes and get red spots all over her neck and face – or something – at the sight of him. And so forth – the hero always, always has a stronger hold over the heroine and if he becomes the better person, it’s because the story inadvertently tells me that it’s due to the usual magical male personality reconstruction powers of the heroine’s true love and honey pot.
Because of this, the romance never feels as satisfying as it could have been. Still, it has plenty of humor, and the main characters, on their own, have their moments. On the Move is easy to read and I’ve had fun, but the author could have allowed the heroine to be at a more equal footing with the hero for a more enjoyable romance.