by Marie Harte
Series: Body Shop Bad Boys #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on June 7, 2016
Format: ARC, Ebook
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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
GET TO KNOW THE BODY SHOP BAD BOYS
Johnny, Foley, Sam, and Lou are the rough and tumble mechanics of Webster's Garage. These reformed bad boys are used to living fast, but it's the women in their lives who take them from zero to sixty in a heartbeat.
Johnny Devlin's a charmer with a checkered past. He has had his eye on scorching-hot bartender Lara Valley for ages, but she's rejected him more than once. That doesn't mean he won't come to her aid when some dirtbag mauls her. When she asks him on a date as a no-strings-attached thank you, he can't say no. And then he's saying nothing but hell, yes.
I really enjoyed Test Drive by Marie Harte, which is book #1 in the Body Shop Bad Boys series. The main characters, Lara and Johnny, have an easy chemistry and their constant flirtatious banter made me smile. Their relationship builds over time and it’s a slow burn that’s definitely worth the wait.
Johnny is a mechanic at a garage, where he works with his buddies Sam, Foley, and Lou. Johnny has a reputation for being a ladies’ man, but for years he has been carrying a torch for local bartender Lara. He has asked her out many times, but Lara continually turns him down. When she’s not working, she’s in school training to be a nurse and is focused on her classes, so she doesn’t really have time for a relationship. But when Lara’s soon-to-be ex-brother-in-law assaults her, Johnny rushes to help her. Shaken but grateful, Lara finally agrees to go out with Johnny.
I loved this couple. Johnny is not a stereotypical alpha male jerk. Instead, he’s genuinely charming and incredibly sweet. He’s clearly smitten with Lara before they start dating, but once they make it official, he’s a complete goner. He also has a great deal of substance. He may work with his hands, but in his off time he has a hidden geeky side that loves poetry, classic horror movies, and Lord of the Rings. Swoon.
Lara is a feisty, headstrong, and hardworking person. Along with her bartending job, she’s also in school for nursing. Money is an issue for her and she’s busting her butt to finish her clinicals so that she can have a better life. In addition to this, she helps take care of her two young nieces.
Needless to say, Lara doesn’t exactly have time for a relationship right now, which is why she and Johnny keep things casual (but exclusive) at first. However, as they learn more about each other, it’s clear that they’re falling for each other hard.
We also see a lot of their respective families, including Johnny’s father, who owns a strip club. Johnny was raised with an unconventional view of women because of this, but not the one you’d expect. He sees the girls at the club like family members he wants to protect. But because Johnny’s dad has not always had the healthiest of relationships, Johnny doesn’t have a great model to go by when it comes to his own love life. He doesn’t treat women badly, but he’s never really been in love.
Lara has seen how relationships can sour quickly. Although her parents have a good marriage, Lara’s sister has been married and divorced several times, leaving her to raise her daughters largely on her own. Lara wants to avoid a similar fate at all costs.
I loved how the author kept me guessing with these characters. When I started the book, I expected Johnny to be somewhat of a goofy grease monkey, but he’s super intelligent, sensitive, and sexy all at the same time. I thought Lara might be a little helpless, but to my pleasant surprise found that she’s more than capable of taking care of herself. Together, Lara and Johnny mesh really nicely–not just in the bedroom but outside it as well.
Although there’s some drama, there’s pretty low angst in this book, which helps contribute to that slow burn I mentioned. There’s a build-up and escalation in Lara and Johnny’s relationship that feels natural and believable. It took me a little while to get into the plot, but I’m so glad I stuck with it because it was definitely worth it. When the main conflict comes to a head toward the end of the book, it’s handled well and the resolution feels satisfying. The next book in the series is set up nicely also.
This was the first book by Marie Harte that I’ve read. This series is connected to her McCauley Brothers books, but it’s not necessary to read those in order to enjoy Test Drive. However, I’m definitely putting her other series on my TBR list. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and highly recommend Test Drive.
Rating: 4 stars