TEST DRIVE by Marie Harte: Spotlight & Review

Posted June 7, 2016 in Book Tour, Excerpts, Giveaway, Reviews / 0 Comments

TEST DRIVE by Marie Harte: Spotlight & ReviewTest Drive by Marie Harte
Series: Body Shop Bad Boys #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC
Buy Online: Amazon  B&N  Kobo

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely mine.

A smokin’ hot new series from Marie Harte featuring tough-guy mechanics and the women who jump-start their hearts.



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’s 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.




TEST DRIVE is an absolutely fun start to this new series and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. The humor is exactly what I enjoy reading and I had a really good time with it.

Johnny Devlin is a ladies’ man through and through, with the reputation to support that claim and charming as he is, very few women resist him. Actually only one woman seems immune to his charm – bartender Lara Valley. Lara isn’t like the typical woman Johnny gets with. She is focused on school as a ticket out of a life of struggle and isn’t interested in any distraction, especially the kind that Johnny is offering and her interest in him is something she’ll be keeping to herself. 

But Johnny just had to go ruin her perception of him when he stepped in to rescue her from being assaulted and showed that there was more to him than just a walking hard-on. 

Johnny grew up with a revolving door of women coming and going from his father’s life and has never had a good example of what a stable relationship between a man and woman looks like and when added to his abandonment issues, it’s easier for him to enjoy women and send them on their way than take a chance on getting dumped. Until Lara has him thinking about stepping into uncharted waters. But can a man with his issues believe that a woman like Lara would want him forever when all he can offer her is a sordid past and a present as a mechanic, when there were better options out there?

Johnny was quite an interesting character underneath all the grease and I enjoyed as those layers were unwrapped and the real Johnny came out. Sweet, thoughtful and generous are some words that describe him and I enjoyed watching him and Lara deal with their issues and find their happiness. I liked Lara because in spite of her initial reservations, she put herself out there with Johnny, but was strong enough to keep going when things went south.

While this series is a spin-off of the McCauley Brothers, it’s a quite different and there is no need to read that series before this, but if you enjoyed the dialogue and characters here, you might want to check it out.

TEST DRIVE is a perfect blend of humor and romance and while Johnny and Lara were interesting, the trio of Johnny, Foley and Sam stole the show. Their interactions were always hilarious and I found myself reading them over and over just so I could laugh. I know that part of the reason I’m looking forward to the rest of the series is so I can enjoy more of the three of them and their antics. 




He’d never been so captivated by a woman before. He’d seen prettier women. But something about Lara Valley struck him in the heart, the brain, and yeah, right between his legs.

He hoped she kept her gaze on his face, because he couldn’t do much about his erection with her so close.

She dabbed his cheek, and it stung. But then she blew on it, and he swallowed a moan. Dear Jesus, she was killing him. He smelled the flowery soap she’d used to wash her face. Fresh and clean, the way he always thought of her.


“What?” He sounded hoarse and had to clear his throat.

“For hurting you. I saw you flinch.”

From wanting you too much. “Don’t tell the guys, okay? I have a rep.”

She chuckled and continued to be gentle with him. “I promise. I owe you.”

He stopped her from swabbing his cheek, his hand over hers. “No, you don’t. You don’t owe me a thing, Lara. I’m serious.” He didn’t want her gratitude. It made him uncomfortable, felt wrong, somehow. Taking care of her was no big thing. It just was.

Her slow smile warmed him all over again. “Okay. I don’t owe you. Then can you do me another favor and be a willing patient while I practice my nursing skills on you?”

“Well, if you put it like that. And you did insist I eat your cookies.”

“I did.” She tried to look solemn, but her smile ruined her attempt.

He sat, staring at her, while she took care of him. Man, she was something else. So damn beautiful it hurt to look at her. She’d make eye contact before quickly glancing away, her eyes dark, a fathomless brown, rich and addicting and impossible to deny.

His heart raced any time she was near. And damn if he didn’t want to protect her from the world—himself included—while lusting after her all the same.

I am so totally gone on this chick.

He tried to act cool and collected but feared he looked like a love-struck ass. Not that love had anything to do with the way he was feeling—or so he’d been telling himself for years—but it probably described his expression better than anything he could come up with.

She put a bandage across his cheek. “There. You were bleeding a little, and you’ll bruise, but you should be all better soon.”

“Thanks, Nurse Feel-Good.” He wiggled his brows, and she blushed.

Hell. If she looked down, she’d catch a real eyeful.

Fortunately, she put her tiny medical kit aside and moved back to her spot across the table from him. Then she took a cookie and eased into the bite. “Oh, these are good.”

“I’m telling you. Whenever Ray puts your cookies on the menu, they sell like crazy. You sure you want to be a nurse? ’Cause I’m thinking you bake like an angel.”

“An angel?” She raised a brow, the one she normally used with him to indicate she didn’t believe a word of his crap. Another reason she’d captivated him. She saw through his bullshit. “That’s the best you can do?”

He pleaded exhaustion. “I’m sorry. I took a blow to the head. It’s all I’ve got.” He put on his needy face. “Careful. I might swoon.”

“Faker.” She snickered. “I know you don’t want my gratitude. So I’m thanking you with cookies.” Her amusement faded, and she looked down, then up at him, then away again.

“Lara? What’s wrong?”

She met his gaze and said in a rush, “How come you keep asking me out?”

Change of subject, but o-kay. “Because I wanted a date.”


“Want, wanted. Whatever.” He frowned. “Hold on. Don’t all of a sudden agree to go out with me because you think you owe me something. We settled that. Cookies for bruises. It’s a done deal.” He stood and took a few steps back from the table, not wanting to loom over her. She’d been assaulted tonight, even if she insisted she was fine. “Say what you want, but you’ve had a rough night. I should probably go.”

She just watched him with an expression he couldn’t read.

But he couldn’t leave just yet. “Lara, Ron’s an asshole. No one should ever touch you when you don’t want it.” He scowled, annoyed and unable to hide it, and reiterated, “And I sure as shit don’t want you going out with me out of some fucked-up sense that you owe me.”

Damn. Talk about some money to add to the swear jar.

Her slow smile confused the hell out of him. “What?” he snapped, aware his legendary calm seemed to have deserted him. And talk about the wrong person and the wrong time to act like an ass. First Ron, now him.

She stood and crossed to him, then took his large hands in her smaller, softer ones. Christ, she was smooth. Her silky palms felt hot against his, and he wondered if his scars and calluses reminded her of their differences. Around her he felt like a big, uneducated grease monkey. Lara Valley, bartender, waitress, and college kid. Well, college woman. He’d never thought of her as a kid, not with those curves. Besides, he only had two years on her.



“Ask me again.”

He stared down at her, at those eyes he could drown in. At that ripe mouth that looked so soft yet bore a bruise or two from fuckhead Ron. “Huh?”

“You know. Ask me.” She tugged him closer, until they stood so close he could feel her breath over his chin.

Lust and tenderness swamped him, and it was all he could do not to grab her and shove her up against the nearest wall, right now. “Ask you…?”

“For a date,” she whispered and pulled him forward.

To his shock, she kissed him. A soft taste of chocolate and Lara, homey goodness and sex appeal that had him hard and unable to think beyond getting more of her. She didn’t use any tongue, but he was leery of ending the moment by taking charge, so he let her lead the way.

Soft presses of her lips moved from his mouth to his cheek. When she kissed him gently over the bandage, he felt trembly. Unsure and confused and totally not himself. All his sly one-liners escaped him, replaced with a crazy need to hold her close and never let go.

She pulled back and waited.

“Lara,” he said, his voice husky. “Will you go out with me?”

“Yes. I think I will. How about dinner and a movie?”

How about I remember how to talk instead of staring at you? He swallowed audibly. “That would be nice.”

She smiled. “Great. It’s a date.”




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About Marie Harte

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking or biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. She lives in in Central Oregon.

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