Test Drive by Marie Harte (Body Shop Bad Boys #1)

Test Drive by Marie HarteAvailable June 7, 2016: Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks

My Copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Nikki L

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 first came across Marie Harte’s work with the The McCauley Brothers series , four books in total, and we casually meet the boys of Webster’s Garage. TEST DRIVE is book one in a planned four-part series and we start off with our hero Johnny Devlin and his heroine Lara Valley.

Johnny is a mechanic at a garage, Lara is a nursing student working hard to put herself through college. Most of the conflict hinges on Johnny’s playboy reputation and Lara’s desire to rise above her lower income upbringing. Both characters are likeable and relatable, but I had some concerns with how the resolution is glossed over in the end.

Harte works hard to make me believe these heroes are “bad boys”, but in reality they are a soft caricature of what suburban women want in their fantasy boyfriends. Which is fine. Just go in knowing you’re not really getting any dirty bad boys. Sure, they work in a garage, have some ink, have elusive jail time that’s never explained and is very much in their past, and frequent a strip club. But I would like to point out, early on our heroine refers to getting a tattoo as “going under the gun”. So, nope. No self-respecting tattoo artist would let you get away with calling their tattoo machine a gun, because I guarantee you will be corrected. And furthermore, a twenty-something surrounded by heavily inked friends and coworkers (she works at a rough and tumble bar as a bartender) wouldn’t even think to say that phrase.

Now, having said all that, I did very much enjoy this start to the new series. I thoroughly enjoy Harte’s voice and enjoyed getting back to see some of the characters from The McCauley Brothers series. But I did have to suspend some disbelief with the phrasing and “bad boy” world building. Harte does great characters and believable conflicts, so I didn’t want to put this one down.

If you like fleshed out characters that have real flaws and a romance that has humor and heartfelt emotion mixed in with some steamy sex, then I’d highly suggest giving this one a read. And I also highly recommend The McCauley Brothers series for more of the same.

I give Test Drive by Marie Harte 3.5 stars!

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