Casual Reader Extended Review – Speed Dating

  • Title: Speed Dating
  • Author: Nancy Warren
  • Genre: Romance
  • Score: 1 out of 5
  • Amazon link

A romance novel. A NASCAR driver. It’s called… wait for it… Speed Dating!

I make no excuses for buying this book from the Kindle store – it was free, and I was new to this one-click-have-a-book-in-an-instant. I was also curious to see how the concept of a romance novel set in a NASCAR situation would work out. I have written a bit of motorsport fiction myself, but I am by no means an expert.

So, when you pick up a romance novel, you know exactly what you’re getting and they are not my kind of book. It being set in the beautiful motorsport paddocks made no difference to this whatsoever. Romance novels are silly, this we know. They are nothing like real life, people don’t ever talk to each other like that, and things like this don’t happen to regular people. Even so, to bring motorsport into the mix is interesting to me, so I read it.

Oh dear.

Thrown together in the most unlikely circumstances, held together by even less likely events, the girl falls in love with the driver who eventually realises he loves her too. I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you, but the plot is obvious from the minute they meet. Which by the way, happens when she gets locked out of her hotel room in her underwear, even though there was no clear reason for her to go out. Then she sneaks into a stranger’s room, and it happens to be a NASCAR driver who confuses her with an actress he has hired to play his girlfriend to attend the wedding of his ex-wife with so she won’t call off the wedding to be with him.

WHA…

When I first opened the book, I thought, this is good, perhaps it will introduce motorsport (even if it is NASCAR) to a wider range of people. Now I wonder what they must think of it! I found an article from when the partnership between Harlequin and NASCAR was first announced, and it has a couple of good quotes.

Nascar drivers — heroic, adventurous but, to judge from the books anyway, in need of a down-to-earth woman they can count on — are more in the traditional mold, so for booksellers much of the appeal of the new Harlequin series stems less from its novelty than from the power of the Nascar brand, which commands tremendous loyalty among racing fans.

Speed dating is actually a misnomer for what happens in the Nascar novels, where the course of love is bumpy, and it typically takes an entire Nextel Cup season for a couple to commit to each other. In these books there is also a good deal more engine-revving, so to speak, than actual clutch-popping or rubber-burning. “Nascar is a family sport,” said Ms. Warren, the author of “Speed Dating,” and so the writers have to abide by certain rules: no crashes, no drugs or alcohol, no sex.

I approve of that last bit. It would be all too easy to have a big crash and that be the catalyst for people realising they love each other. But I digress.

A rival publisher isn’t so keen on the idea, as you would expect:

“Certain things are hard to translate into romance fiction. Music and dancing, for example. What I’m concerned about is I don’t know a whole lot of romance readers who love Nascar the way they love ‘American Idol,’ say. Sports is just not something we talk about at our big romance conferences.”

I bet those conferences are fun.

So, again, I flit between thinking this is a good way of widening the brand, and also, this is just awful.

The thing that really, really bugs me though, is that out of the twenty books listed on this page, there is just one book with a female driver. Just ONE. There are plenty of other roles – daughter of a team owner, the sport’s only female engineer, a chef, a teacher, an assistant, even a country and western singer. Just the one female driver though, and her story means her one and only sponsor basically handed over the cash because he loves her.

Excellent example to be setting, Harlequin. Nice work.

8 thoughts on “Casual Reader Extended Review – Speed Dating

  1. Just read your Life in the Fast Lane series – awesome.

    Girls write sucky racing fiction (says the girl attempting to write a screenplay about a kid who karts). Wait, let me correct that: immature, obsessed fangirls write sucky racing fiction. It’s like Twilight for teenage girl race fans (or, really, any girl who’s holdin’ out for a hero).

  2. and so the writers have to abide by certain rules: no crashes, no drugs or alcohol, no sex.

    w.t.f?

    – the only interesting thing about the racing is the multiple pileups
    – randy lajoie, recently returned to the sport after being banned for smoking pot
    – coors, is the “official beer” of nascar
    – jeff gordon recently had another child. delivered by a stork presumably?

    no wonder it was inaccurate portrayal of the sport, given those restrictions you be hard pressed to make anything else.

  3. It would be all too easy to have a big crash and that be the catalyst for people realising they love each other.

    days of thunder 🙂

  4. the only interesting thing about the racing is the multiple pileups

    It featured at least three descriptions of NASCAR races and not a single crash. Ummm….

    coors, is the “official beer” of nascar

    I must say, there was beer in Speed Dating, but they didn’t mention what brand it was and the driver only ever drank his sponsor’s beer. They made a point of that.

    Uh huh.

  5. ‘Romance novel’ and ‘family sport’ feel like total contradictions. Do publishers believe children will be reading them? To me it conjures up images of a family settling down by the fire on a chilly evening, dog curled up on the rug, mum wrapped up in a dressing gown and opening On the Edge at its bookmark to regale the enthralled gathering with the continuing romantic dramas of Rebecca Newman…

    I mean, I wouldn’t exactly expect bodice-ripping (firesuit-ripping?) action, but come on.

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