Test Drive

Test Drive

4.2 14
by Marie Harte
     
 

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Rough and tumble bad boy mechanics
Living fast and loving hard

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

Overview

Rough and tumble bad boy mechanics
Living fast and loving hard

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.

Body Shop Bad Boys Series:
Test Drive (Book 1)
Roadside Assistance (Book 2)
Zero to Sixty (Book 3)

Praise for Marie Harte's McCauley Brothers Series:
"Packed with sass, sensuality and heartwarming emotion...an absolute delight!" -Romance Junkies for What to Do with a Bad Boy
"Funny, addicting, and full of hot sex scenes." -Booklist for How to Handle a Heartbreaker

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/04/2016
Harte (A Major Seduction, A Major Attraction) kicks off her Body Shop Bad Boys series with a smoking-hot match-up between a reformed tough guy and an equally tough bartender. Lara Valley's been hurt enough in her life. Does she really want to open the door to falling in love with mechanic Johnny Devlin, or is it best to keep on dodging the trouble that's been following her for her whole life? Johnny's had his eye on Lara for years, but she keeps deflecting his efforts to date her, no matter how explosive their chemistry is. At first, Lara believes her best course of action is to keep her eyes on the prize: her long-cherished dream of becoming a nurse. But just as she realizes that she's ready to take the risk of falling in love with Johnny, he comes to the conclusion that she may be too good for him. Will low self-esteem rip this romance apart before it even starts? Harte effortlessly draws readers into her eminently relatable, fast-moving story, and invites them to fall in love with two imperfect people simply longing for happiness. This is a sensual roller coaster ride with a sweet payoff. Harte scores again. (June)
From the Publisher
"Test Drive is high octane chemistry that keeps the pages turning and your engine revving! If the sexy Johnny Devlin was my mechanic, I'd be ripping out spark plugs on a weekly basis. #iwantjohnny." - Gina L. Maxwell, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of the Fighting for Love series

"It is always refreshing and endearing to be introduced to a man who is hard and tough on the outside, but sensitive and vulnerable on the inside. Each character is well written and fully developed, without taking attention away from the main leads. Harte has written yet another compelling novel with characters who readers have no choice but to cheer for." - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

"Harte's take on the redeemed bad boy is fresh and sexy" - Kirkus

"Fans of sexy, sun, small town romance contemporaries with a strong sense of family are sure to love Harte's latest venture." - Smexy Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781492630265
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
06/07/2016
Series:
Body Shop Bad Boys , #1
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
141,377
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The opening riff of an old-school AC/DC song echoed through the garage. Johnny Devlin bit back a curse when he scraped his knuckles on the pump of the piece of crap Cadillac he was working on.

The smell of motor oil, sweat, and grease warmed the interior of Johnny's favorite place in the world. Webster's Garage boasted a double set of bay doors and a roomy interior complete with a cement floor and red-and-brown brick walls, a holdover from the original Tooley's Auto Shop.

"Hey, asshole," he heard Foley snarl. "We talked about this. Hands off my stuff."

Best buds Foley and Sam were squared off, staring holes through each other. When it came to order-and pretty much everything related to cleanliness-the two thugs sat on opposite ends of the spectrum. Foley-Mr. Tall, Dangerous, and Arrogant-was compulsively neat, while Sam might as well have had the word chaos tattooed on his forehead. Covered in tattoos, Sam was a walking billboard for badassery.

Lou stepped over to the radio near his work station, and soon loud classic rock drowned out the rest of the argument.

Just another day at the office.

A cool breeze made Johnny sigh. Seattle's unseasonably warm autumn temps continued to be a pleasant surprise this year, and they kept the garage doors open to let the air circulate through the sticky auto repair shop. Even at nine thirty in the morning, he had worked himself into a sweat.

Johnny cranked his wrench and stared at a stubborn pump assembly that refused to cooperate. He loosened it, got to the fan belt, then glared down at the problematic power steering pump.

After glancing over his shoulder to make sure he was in the clear, he softly muttered, "Shitty Cadillac."

The sound of someone shaking a familiar glass jar of coins made him tense. He heard it again, even over the blast of AC/DC. Ducking deeper under the Cadillac's hood, Johnny wondered who his sexy-scary boss was going to call out for cursing now. He was sure he hadn't been that loud.

"Seriously, guys?" Delilah Webster held the newly purposed amber glass growler out to Sam and Foley. The woman had a hard-on for swearwords lately.

Such a sad waste of a perfectly good beer container. Once the half-gallon jar had been home to a killer IPA flavored with hops and a hint of citrus. Now, it was nothing but a no-swearing jar filled with goddamn quarters.

As if the shop going clean would prevent Del from slipping up at her wedding.

He imagined her dolled up in a white gown, tats, piercings, and her hair all done up in some funky twist, looking like a million bucks. She'd be glowing at her behemoth of a fiancé before letting loose with an "I fucking do." With a snort, he buried himself back under the hood of the bastard of a car and did his best to calm his frustration. He never had anything pleasant to say before ten a.m. anyway. God knew he needed a jolt of caffeine, and soon, before he took a tire iron to the gray piece of crap he just knew was laughing at him.

Sam and Foley bitched about the new no-swear policy even as he heard them drop change into what Johnny had taken to calling the "Rattle of Oppression-ROP." A few clinks of change against glass and everyone seemed to sink into themselves, anxious that their fearsome boss would come storming back in, demanding a quarter for a "hell," "shit," or "damn."

Johnny knew better. Dubbed the smart one of the crew, he kept his nose out of trouble and everyone else on the straight and narrow. Mostly.

He heard Del step in his direction, grazed his already sore knuckle against the frame as he removed the assembly, and let it rip. "Fudge."

"See?" Del yelled to be heard above a man on the radio screeching about shaking all night long. "At least someone can keep his friggin' mouth clean." She patted him on the shoulder, and he did his best not to flinch. Woman had hands like rocks. "Thanks, Johnny."

He kept his head down and continued to tinker, listening as her footsteps gradually faded. Then an office door closed, and he found it safe to look up.

"You are such a kiss ass." Sam frowned. Then again, Sam did nothing but frown.

Next to him, Foley crossed massive arms over a broad chest and made kissy noises. A glance across the garage showed Lou shaking his head, looking disappointed.

"What?" Johnny tossed up his hands. "Am I the only one smart enough to know you catch more bees with honey?" He smirked at the many middle fingers shot his way. "Thought so. Dumbasses."

Of the four of them currently in the shop, Sam was the one whose temper could turn on a dime. He'd gotten better over the years, but everyone knew to avoid the brute when he sank into a rage. Only Foley could talk him down, the pair closer than most brothers. Lou had a sense of humor like Johnny's, but without the quick wit-or so Johnny liked to constantly tell him.

Keeping on Sam's good side would be the smart thing to do.

So of course, Johnny had to prod him. "Hey, McSteroid, you and your boyfriend got plans for tonight?"

Foley sighed. Lou grinned.

Sam's frown darkened. "Why? You got a death wish, stick boy?"

Johnny flexed a greasy arm. "Seriously? Stick boy? Man, I'm ripped. And it's all natural." He raised a brow at Sam and pushed his bicep up from the back, trying to appear bigger.

Even Sam couldn't withstand the Devlin charm. A rare smiled appeared on his face. "Whatever. No, I don't have plans. And Foley-not my boyfriend, dickhead-has his own life."

"So." Lou looked Foley up and down. "No plans for you then?"

"Suck it."

Lou grinned. It took a lot to push the guy's buttons. "Back at you, hombre."

"I thought we'd hang at Ray's if you losers have nothing better to do. Darts rematch?" Johnny offered.

The others agreed.

"You're on." Lou looked eager. The only one of the group who gave Johnny a serious run for his money at the game. Intelligent, a real ladies' man, and he had a steady hand. A useful trait for a guy who painted with great attention to detail.

"Cool." Johnny gave them a thumbs-up. "Winner doesn't pay for drinks. So make sure you idiots bring your wallets."

"Dream on, motherfu-"

"Foley," Del snarled from the office door. "What the hell did I say about swearing?" The ROP had returned.

Johnny buried his head back under the hood of the car. He was pretty sure the others did the same. Survival of the fittest worked only if you let the weaker ones, like Foley, take one for the team.

A few hours later, he lounged outside on a picnic table, eating a sandwich Dale, their service writer, had picked up from their favorite shop two doors down. The rare sunshine, not marred by a single cloud, added to the perfection of the moment. A few birds chirped, cars buzzed down Rainier, and only Foley crunching on a huge bag of chips interrupted Johnny's peace.

Foley glanced at Johnny's third sandwich. "Where do you put all that food? You should be really fat."

"You should talk. And just because I don't spend my leisure time jerking off with weights doesn't mean I'm not in shape. I like running."

"From the law," Foley muttered and crunched some more, a sly grin on his face.

"Nah. That's in the past. The trick now is not to get caught." He wiggled his brows, and Foley laughed. "I run after work, if you're interested."

"Nope. I'd rather ‘jerk off with weights,'" Foley sneered. "You know, with that smart mouth, it's a wonder no one's rearranged your face lately."

"It's been a few months," Johnny admitted. He had a hard time going without a fight, cursed with an inability to keep his mouth shut around less intelligent, ill-humored people. "I'm not a half-bad boxer. Hence my ability to still breathe on my own."

"I know. That's the only reason Sam and I tolerate you. That and if we're in a fight, we'll throw them the runt and mosey off."

Johnny laughed. Foley and Sam weren't known to mosey away from anything. The badass bros, as he and the others called them behind their backs, ended more shit than Johnny ever started. That weird moral code the pair insisted on keeping often had them interfering when a smarter man would steer clear.

"You still dating Alicia?" Foley asked out of the blue.

"Nah. She got a little clingy."

Foley sighed. "They all do."

"I take it you and Sue are quits then."

"Yep."

"Should make tonight at Ray's interesting." Johnny grinned. Sue waitressed at Ray's, and though he'd been curious, he'd been too intimidated by her rough edges to try her on for size. A sweetheart underneath the heavy kohl, many piercings, and fierce tats, Sue nevertheless didn't tolerate horny fools. Fuck with her and meet a bad end. Period.

Granted, Johnny wouldn't typically let a little thing like a woman kicking his ass stop him if he really wanted her. He'd charmed harder cases than Sue. But he didn't want to break her heart, then have to deal with her when he went back to the bar.

"It wasn't like we were serious."

"A little defensive, hoss?"

"Shut up. I am not."

"Uh-huh."

Foley groaned. "It was just supposed to be sex. Then she's texting me all the time. Can I help it if I'm damn good in bed? I mean, Jesus. A little oral foreplay, and the chick's hinting at wedding bells."

"Really?"

"Okay, so I'm exaggerating. But she wanted to go exclusive, so I backed out quick." Foley's ended relationship apparently hadn't dulled his appetite, because he finished the chips and started on a few cookies. Carrying around so much muscle obviously expended energy. "She said she's cool with it, but I haven't been face-to-face with her since Saturday night."

Johnny did the math. "That's nearly a week. Hey, with any luck, she'll be too slammed with orders tonight to notice you. You know how Fridays at Ray's can get." Johnny gave him a fake smile. "Good luck, friend."

Foley frowned at him. "You don't sound all that sincere."

"I'm not. I'll be placing bets on you leaving Ray's with at least one or two darts in your ass. You know Sue holds the bar record, right?"

"Hell."

Johnny snickered. Liam Webster, Del's old man and the other owner of the garage, approached alongside Sam. Before either could sit, Johnny announced the bet. "Okay, gentlemen-and I use that term loosely-ten bucks says Sue tries to attack Foley before we leave Ray's tonight."

Sam considered Foley. "I'll take that bet." To Foley he said, "I told you not to date the chicks at Ray's. You bonehead."

"We're going to Ray's, if you're interested," Johnny told Liam, the rational half of his employers.

Del's father had to be in his late fifties but looked years younger. He had height and muscle on him that Johnny, no matter how hard he worked, would never have. Liam also had an easygoing attitude and knowledge of mechanics that put most auto-thugs to shame. Del was his pride and joy, and J.T., his bruiser of a son, was always good for a laugh when he dropped by.

Liam had grown up poor, worked his tail off to make something of himself, and had raised two fine if aggressive kids. A terrific boss, he didn't judge, knew how difficult it could be to get a second chance, and always gave a guy the benefit of the doubt. Hell, he'd hired Johnny, and Johnny would never claim to be a saint. Not after that pesky felony. Friggin' cops refused to let a guy joyride without making it a huge deal.

Ah, but life at eighteen had seemed so simple back then.

"I'd love to join you boys at Ray's, but I have a date with a lady."

Johnny said kindly, "Blow-up dolls don't count, Liam."

Foley and Sam chuckled.

"Shut it, Son, before I shut it for you." Liam made a fist at Johnny, but his amusement was plain to see. They all knew he'd scored big time a few months ago, and ever since, he and Sophie, his lady friend, had been acting like a pair of lovebirds.

Sam shrugged and sat next to Foley, stealing the rest of his cookies.

"Hey."

Sam put an open hand on Foley's face and shoved while inhaling a cookie whole. He talked around his food, opening his mouth to Johnny, especially because the bastard knew it grossed Johnny out. "Still can't believe you got a classy lady like that to give you the time of day, Liam," he said around expelled cookie crumbs.

They all looked at Liam, who puffed up. "I know. Boggles the mind."

They shared a laugh, though Johnny knew they'd all been beyond pleased to see the boss finally get lucky. For thirty years the guy had mourned his true love, raised two hellions, and somehow run a successful garage. Johnny looked up to Liam. Hell, he wanted to be Liam, someday. Especially since Liam had scored a fine woman. A mystery to them all.

"So what are your plans? Going to take her ballroom dancing?" Johnny teased.

The whole garage had given Liam shit for the dancing date a month ago.

Liam frowned. "As a matter of fact, we're going fine dining."

Sam stuffed the last cookie in his mouth and mumbled "Good luck" while chewing.

"Sam, close your mouth." Johnny cringed, pushed past his limit. "Just...gross."

Foley snorted. "Hey, at least he's dressed and not scratching his ass, drinking straight from the milk carton, and busting into your room when you're trying to get lucky."

"With a girl?" Lou asked from behind them. "What happened to Sue?"

Foley growled, "Sue's a girl."

"Yeah, but you already got lucky, right?" Lou shrugged. "Once you're in, you're in. Unless you're doing it wrong." And Lou would know. The guy never hurt for women.

Liam sighed. "You guys are pitiful. Now get back to work."

"Yeah, yeah." Johnny stood with the others and filled Lou in on Foley's dilemma.

"Cool. I'm down for ten. I say she ignores him completely. Kind of the way Lara treats you, Johnny."

His face heated, but he pretended not to hear the other guys razzing him and hightailed it back into the garage.

Lara Valley-the lust of his life. He'd been going to Ray's forever, and the first time he'd seen her, four-plus years ago, he'd fallen hard. But his reputation had preceded him: a player and proud of it. He'd teased and flirted his way to learning her name and a few details about the stunning brunette, but little more.

Currently twenty-seven years old and still single, she had her mom, dad, and sister, two nieces she helped care for, and took classes at the community college. For nursing, if he wasn't mistaken. Man, she could help him heal up anytime.

He'd spent many a night at Ray's, discreetly watching her. Long brown hair, deep, chocolate-brown eyes, a slender body curved in all the right places. She worked hard, didn't take shit from anyone, and had a genuinely kind heart for the poor souls sobbing heartache into their beers.

He preferred when she tended bar, because it kept her fine ass away from grabby customers, unlike when she waitressed.

Just the thought of seeing her again made his heart leap, but he knew better. A smart guy didn't shit where he ate. Look at poor Foley and his breakup with Sue. Guaranteed the woman would make him pay in some way tonight. Johnny knew women. He knew what they liked and didn't like. And Sue would be gunning for the guy who'd dumped her, even if she claimed the breakup was no big deal.

He snorted, wondering how Foley could appear so together and be so clueless.

Now take Lara. Johnny wanted her, no question. For a night, a week, a month. Hell, he'd been obsessed with her for a while, and he knew it would take time to get her out of his system. First he had to get her to go out with him.

But Lara? She had a thing about not dating the guys who hung out at Ray's. A smart choice, actually. Johnny loved the joint, but Ray's catered to a rough crowd.

The perfect place for his kind of people, he thought with a grin.

*
• *

Hours later and a dollar in quarters poorer, having been goaded into a few f-bombs though Sam had sworn Del was outside the garage, Johnny sat with his buddies near the darts at Ray's, drinking and preparing for his weekend.

"No plans, guys. For once, I'm a free man for two whole days." He kicked back and sighed with pleasure.

"So no work at your dad's club for you, huh?" Foley asked. "Too bad. I was going to offer to help."

"Me too," Sam added, his voice like the growl of a wounded bear. "Damn. I was hoping to talk to Candy again."

"Sorry, sport. Dear old Dad is Candy's new squeeze."

"Bummer." Sam shrugged. "But the guy's got good taste."

He always had. Johnny had grown up without his mother, but with a bevy of maternal support. His father had a thing for strippers, so it made sense Jack Devlin had finally ponied up and bought his own strip club a few years back. Johnny had never faulted his father's fascination with tits and ass. But it would have been nice to have just one set around while growing up, and getting to know more than the girl's stage name before she squirreled.

"So have you seen Sue yet?" he asked Foley.

The others waited. Lou seemed especially amused. Johnny knew that gleam in his friend's eyes.

"Ah, not yet."

Sam snorted. "He's been either hiding in the bathroom or ducking behind Earl."

Earl-a huge-ass bouncer Johnny had no intention of annoying. Ever. And the same went for the other guy, Big J, whom everyone said looked like Mr. Clean.

Foley flushed. "First off, I had to piss. Second, I wasn't ducking behind Earl. I said hi to the guy, and he asked me what I thought about Dodge trucks."

"Uh-huh. Sure you weren't asking him about Sue's frame of mind?" Johnny teased. Over Foley's shoulder, he saw Lara smiling at a woman over the bar. His heart stuttered, and he did his best to act cool, collected. She's not interested. She's a nice girl. Leave her alone.

Like clockwork, his perverse, inner loudmouth had him offering to order the next round. "Be right back. And remember, don't hate the player, hate the game-when I win. Suckers."

Grinning, he left the guys at the table swearing, and nabbed a free place at the crowded bar. Lara, Sue, and a few others were hopping, grabbing drinks, and pouring like mad. Behind him he heard a scuffle break out, and he turned to see two guys who used to be friends hammering on each other.

"That's rough," a biker covered in tats next to him said. "But then, Jim should have known better than to hit up Sheila with her new guy right there."

"He really needs to lay off the tequila." Lara sounded exasperated. "I told Earl to keep an eye on him."

Johnny turned and locked gazes with her. She had her long brown hair pulled back in a familiar ponytail. The silky mass reached her lower back, and he was dying to see her hair down just once. She wore minimal makeup, a bit of liner and some thicker mascara. Growing up around women who glammed up for a living, he'd learned early on about a woman's trade secrets. But he doubted the red in her cheeks came from blush. More like from the heat in the place. And damn, it would have been nice if everyone around him cared about personal hygiene as much as he did.

He wrinkled his nose when a new guy replaced the one next to him and leaned toward Lara, wafting his less-than-pleasant scent. Lara wiped her hand over her nose and pretended a cough.

He and she shared a grin, and his pulse galloped like a racehorse. The sight of her smile, and that heart-stopping dimple, always made it hard for him to breathe. More than physical beauty, Lara possessed a warm inner core that got him hazy and drunk faster than a hometown IPA.

"So, you the bartender?" Smelly drunk guy wanted to know.

She glanced at her black T-shirt that read "Bartender" in bold white letters. "Um, yeah." Lara gave smelly guy a fake smile. "Another beer?"

"Yep. And keep the change." He slid a grimy twenty her way.

She poured his beer and handed him back a few bills. "You gave me a twenty. You sure about me keeping all that change?" She was so sweet, so honest.

Way too good for you, Devlin. Leave her alone.

The guy belched, then pulled back ten, giving her a few bucks. "Thanks, honey. I'll be back." He stumbled from the barstool, which was quickly occupied by a new customer. Thankfully, this one a woman who smelled like cheap perfume instead of BO.

"What can I get you, Johnny?"

He loved hearing his name on Lara's lips. She had a husky quality to her voice, and he could too easily imagine it whispering her pleasure while he showed her why she should take a chance on him. Foley thought he had oral foreplay down to a science, but Johnny could have written a book on how to please women, a virtual connoisseur by age sixteen.

He cleared his throat and tried to will away his lecherous thoughts. "A pitcher for the crew." He nodded to the guys across the bar then leaned closer to her, to be heard above the crowd. "So what's with Sue? I hear she and Foley split."

Lara rolled her eyes. Of all the staff at Ray's, she and Rena seemed the most levelheaded. No drama for them. "She's pining for the guy. I warned her about him, but did she listen to me?"

"Foley's a good guy." He felt the need to defend his friend.

"Sure, but he's not a permanent guy. None of you are," she said with a direct gaze that aroused and annoyed him at the same time.

"Maybe we just need to find the right woman." He gave her the Devlin smile.

For a second it looked like he might have connected with her, but then she laughed and shoved his pitcher at him. "For you guys, there's a right woman, and a left woman, and a woman on the side..."

The woman next to him laughed. "Seems like she's got you pegged, sexy."

He gave her the Devlin smile and winked, and she stared at him, her lips parted. So at least he hadn't lost his magic. He took the pitcher from Lara, and their fingers brushed. He felt the tingle all the way to his cock and swallowed a groan. Pasting on a sly grin, he said, "But, Lara, if I had you, I wouldn't need any of those others." He drew her hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it. "See you later, gorgeous. And you know, you ever change your mind about mixing pleasure with pleasure, you have my number."

"You mean business with pleasure," she corrected.

"Do I?" He grinned and left, doing his best not to look over his shoulder at her, but it was damn hard. Especially when she laughed. The sound carried like wind chimes, and he felt a shiver start from his toes and work its way up his body. That hollow in his gut hit him, because he had a crazy urge to go back to the bar just to stare at her. Take in her joy with life.

I am such an asswipe.

An erect asswipe. Hell. Time to cool off before he rejoined the crew.

"Jesus, what were you doing up there?" Foley bitched when he returned. "Waiting for the hops to grow?"

Lou snickered. "More like dying for a smile from sexy Lara." He moaned and patted his heart. "What I wouldn't give for some alone time with that gorgeous woman."

Sam had to add, "She can tend my bar anytime."

"Shut up, dickheads." Johnny glared. "Drink your beer, and let's throw a few darts."

He waited until Foley stepped to the line before he added, "Oh, and guess what Lara told me about Sue?" When Foley hit a lousy one outside the ring, Johnny smiled wide.

Foley rattled. Mission accomplished. Now to get in Lou's headspace and win the game. He shot a glance at the bar, saw his favorite brunette laugh, and thought about strategy. About his endgame.

Because Johnny always played to win.

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte writes erotic romance and has over ninety titles in print and digital format. A caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, Marie is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. She served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked for Fortune 500 companies before becoming a full time writer. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she's constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. Visit www.marieharte.com and fall in love.

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Test Drive 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
By just page 51 I wanted to post a review, my first ever. Loved the guys in the shop, all the characters really! You don't have to read the McCauley brothers stories to enjoy this one but why not, all are great reads.
Judy-Ree 6 months ago
This is a spin off of The McCauley Brothers series, about 4 brothers who find their lady loves and deal with their parents separation and eventual reunion over the quartet of books. The final and oldest brother Mike, fell for Delilah 'Del' Webster, who is a mechanic and works in her father's garage. This series is about some of the other mechanics in that garage. I was super stoked for this series, because I love me some blue collar guys. There is just something about a guy who works with his hands and doesn't mind getting dirty that just revs my engine. [See what I did here? ;)] At first I wasn't sure how well I was going to like Johnny. After all, he seemed a bit of a player in the beginning. But the more I got to know him, the more I saw it was mostly for show. He's had a thing for Lara, the bartender/waitress at the local watering hole for ages, but hasn't done the hard press for her attention. Then one night, when she was out in the parking lot fending off the unwanted advances of her sister's ex-husband, he completely steps up and saves the day. Plus, he was totally the sweetest thing with Lara's nieces. There was a cute little scene one night when he came over while Lara was unexpectedly babysitting them. The youngest niece has a thing for unicorns, and Johnny was willing to talk with her about them, earning him serious little girl cred. Here is a bit of dialogue that followed later that night: “If it makes you feel any better, he’s not my type.” “Yeah?” “I like my men big, strong, and able to take a punch. Ones who know what unicorns are.” His frown turned into a sexy smile. “I like pink too. I’m in touch with my feminine side. Really.” He ran a finger down her cheek. “In fact, I want to be in touch with your feminine side.” I liked Lara a lot as well. She's working full-time and going to school to become a nurse. She helps her sister out and is very close with her parents. She lives paycheck to paycheck, but has a dream and a plan to get there. I could completely relate to her and thought she was a very likable character. I have a feeling that I am going to be completely loving this series. The author has done a great job of taking ordinary people and giving them a hot and steamy romance that I can totally relate to. I can't wait for the next book in the series. This was a 4 star read. Netgalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Pure_Jonel 9 months ago
Harte has created a novel full of romance and real friendships amidst the lives of hard characters with true loyalty. Suspense and chemistry make their appearance throughout as we get to know these fantastic characters. I liked the way that the author builds an actual relationship between the main characters. It’s not all chemistry, even though that is definitely there. There was a great deal of character development at the beginning of this novel, so it took me a bit to really get into the story. That said, it is also the 1st novel in the series and we meet characters who will be prevalent throughout. I loved the different personalities that we meet throughout this varied cast of characters. Some were fun, others were difficult, and yet others were absolutely drool worthy. All in all, this was a great tart to a promising new series. I will admit that Harte did leave me curious as to what mess Foley’s going to get himself into in the next novel of the series. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Sailon 9 months ago
Squealing and I don’t mean tires, Marie Harte has a new series. It is based in the garage of Delilah Webster from her McCauley Brothers series, we get everything we’ve come to expect from Harte and more…strong ties that go deeper than blood, explosive chemistry and swoon worthy characters that make you want to get a little greasy. That also comes with well-developed characters with heart felt emotional ties. Since this was the first in a new series, it a had somewhat slow start but I soon found myself pulled into the individuals that make up Harte’s Body Shop Bad Boys world. I received this ARC copy of Test Drive from SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca in exchange for a honest review.
gigiluvsbooks 9 months ago
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 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 dirt bag 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. Review: Super sexy start to this new series! For some reason I thought this book would be more action packed, garage, mechanics, but I was totally wrong. There are a few bar fights, but action wise not a lot else. What there is a romance between to witty and sarcastic individuals who have put up walls to protect their emotions. Johnny especially protects his heart, mostly through not getting close and one night stands though he has been crushing on Lara for four years. Lara is basically all work and no play, so when she is attacked and Johnny saves her, she decides to take a chance. This couple was so fun to read, I really liked their back and forth and teasing even when emotions are running high they have fun with each other. Then they are just plain sexy and the Author writes some great intimate scenes for them. Their relationship does stumble along the way, mostly due to Johnny's insecurities but at least he comes to his senses. This really is a relationship story and we get to see these two characters at their best and their worst. Excellent start to this new series! 4Stars * I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
mamalovestoread22 10 months ago
The moment Lara Valley waltzes into Johnny Devlin's view he's instantly smitten with her, and left with an insatiable urge to gain her attention and a convince her to go on a date... but she's has no intention of landing herself in the famed players bed, so she turns him down flat. So, while he tries to figure out a way to win her over he decides to try the friendship approach in an attempt to get on her good side and possibly warm her up to the idea of a date. What he doesn't expect though is for his "friendship approach" to turn into a long four year obsession without the reward of a date. He knows that they have chemistry, every time he is near her he can feel it surging between them, so, he just can't fathom why she wouldn't want to explore it and give him a shot to prove to her that he is more than the reputation that precedes him. But she stands her ground, and is quite adamant about not letting herself fall under Johnny's charming spell... that is until he comes to her aid and saves her from being manhandled by her sisters's dirtball ex-husband. The minute he sees her in trouble, he becomes enraged and possessive and she sees a side of him that she has never seen before, and it has her reconsidering her no dating policy... The minute Lara Valley met Johnny Devlin she knew he was going to be hard to resist, there was just something about him that continued to pull her in every time he was near, but she decided early on that she would never date someone who frequented the bar...which meant Johnny was off limits. No matter how many times he asks her for a date she always turns him down, he has a playboy reputation that's a mile long and she isn't about to join that less than prestigious list, not to mention the fact that she doesn't have time to date anyone. Between caring for her family, working and taking nursing classes her schedule is pretty much filled up, and she likes it that way, then she doesn't have to worry about putting her heart at risk or making time to date anyone. But after Johnny comes to her rescue, and she gets a glimpse at the man underneath the reputation she begins to see she may have judgde him totally wrong, and with her sister's encouragement she decides to give the playboy what he has been asking for the last four years... a date! To say that I have been dying to read this book is a complete understatement, since first learning that Ms. Harte was planning to expand on the McCauley Brother's series and bring readers the Body Shop Bad Boys I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their stories!!!! Meeting the McCauley brothers was complete literary heaven for me, and so I knew that if the Body Shop Boys were anything like them I would absolutely love them too...AND I DID!! The minute Johnny waltzed onto the page he had me hook, line and sinker, and he kept me at his mercy until the last page was turned. There is just something about him that could not be denied, I was instantly sold on his confident swagger, sexy one liners, and unwavering devotion to provide complete satisfaction! He will DEFINITELY be joining each of the McCauley brothers amongst my elite list of favorite alphas, and I am quite certain his co-workers will be joining that list very soon as well!! LOVED every minute of this story and I look forward to getting up close and personal with more of the men from the Body Shop Bad Boys in the very near future!
MBurton 10 months ago
Holy heck! Those body shop boys are smokin! This story is about Johnny, one of the body shop bad boys and Lara but you get a lot of the rest of the bad boys in this book as well. I loved every single one of them and I can't wait till they each get their own book. Johnny was quite the charmer but he's also a bit damaged from his childhood. His mom died when he was young and the one woman his dad dated, that he cared for, up and left both him and his dad without a backwards glance. Since then his dad went through one woman after another. All Johnny has ever known is that women leave. Why should he think Lara would be any different. Lara comes from a middle class hardworking family. Her parents work non stop and don't have much to show for it. Her sister is a bit of dead weight, going from husband one to husband four, expecting every man in her life to take care of her and her two girls. Lara wants more out of life and all she knows is if she's going anywhere, it will be up to her to make it happen. It was fun reading about these two getting together. Neither believed that the other was serious about each other, yet they both clearly were. It's like watching a train wreck, but a happy train wreck. I wasn't cringing away but laughing at their attempts of trying to stay casual. Johnny was so freakin cute but in a tough guy way with a soft heart. It was easy to fall for his character. Lara was a great heroine. She didn't need Johnny but she wanted him I her life. She was tough yet very likeable. It looks like Foley will be the next in the series and you get a glimps of his heroine who was tough as nails. The sparks are gonna fly! ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
LynnB888 10 months ago
I really enjoyed this new series from Marie Harte and I can't wait to read the other guys stories! Johnny Devlin has always been a love 'em and leave 'em type. He's a tough guy with a little bit of a past, and works hard with his buddies at Webster's Garage. Lara Valley is a bartender at one of the bars Johnny and his friends hang out in, and ever since the day he laid eyes on her, Johnny has wanted to make her his. Lara has a crush on Johnny too, but she doesn't want to just be another of his girl of the moments and then have it be awkward between them at the bar. Will Johnny be able to convince Lara to take a chance on him?
Sandy-thereadingcafe 10 months ago
3.5 stars----TEST DRIVE is the first installment in Marie Harte’s contemporary, adult BODY SHOP BAD BOYS romance series focusing on the mechanics of Webster’s Garage. BODY SHOP BAD BOYS is a spin off from Harte’s McCauley Brothers series but you do not have to have read the original series to follow the current time line. This is mechanic and bad boy Johnny Devlin, and bartender Lara Valley’s story line. Some of the characters from the previous series cross over including Delilah Webster, co-owner of Webster’s Garage. Told from dual third person perspectives (Johnny and Lara) TEST DRIVE follows the building romance between auto mechanic Johnny Devlin-a man with a bad boy reputation and a string of broken hearts to prove it; and bartender/nursing student Lara Valley-a woman who is quick to judge Johnny based on his previous relationships and reputation as a player. When Lara finally consents to a ‘no strings attached’ evening out, nothing will ever be the same for our leading couple. TEST DRIVE is a story line that is slow to build. The majority of the premise focuses on the even slower building relationship between Johnny and Lara, and Lara’s struggle to accept her sister’s personal choices including her latest divorce battle from an over controlling ex-husband. The character building is quite detailed throughout the story-TEST DRIVE has a large ensemble cast of characters-you may need a spreadsheet to keep track. Johnny Devlin’s fellow mechanics at Webster’s Garage play a large secondary and supporting role in our hero’s life, including several good natured ribbings about their sexual prowess and success, or lack thereof, in the relationship department. TEST DRIVE is a story about friendships and family. The romance is a slow burn; a tepid romance where Johnny must tread carefully as it concerns his relationship with Lara Valley. The push and pull of the romance is hampered by Lara’s need to keep Johnny from getting too close-she doesn’t want a repeat of any of her sister’s relationships. The premise is enjoyable; the characters are animated and many; the romance is pleasant and hopeful.
Maria-Rose 10 months ago
In this story, Johnny is one of those playboy types with a good heart. He's a full time mechanic, with a crush on local waitress Lara. He's tried asking her out a few times but she's always resisted - but not because she wasn't interested. Rather, she's got no time in her life for a relationship. With her studying to become a nurse, her shifts at the bar, and the time she spends helping out her sister, she's full up and Johnny promises nothing but trouble (wink, wink). But when he comes to her defense in a confrontation with her sister's ex, she decides it's time to give him that chance. It's a fling slash friendship with no promises - but what happens when they find that they both want more? The start of this series is a whirlwind of introductions to all of the characters that are going to come into play in this book and later ones, so it takes a bit to settle down to the romance between Johnny and Lara. Actually, I didn't realize that this is a spin off of the McCauley brothers series (I'm not sure how I missed that detail) until it became clear that Johnny's boss is Del, the heroine of What To Do With A Bad Boy (McCauley Brothers #4). However this one definitely stands alone well, and while fans of the previous series may delight in seeing a few of those characters, it's definitely not necessary to have read them to enjoy this story. Johnny comes across at first as a somewhat smarmy, slightly arrogant man. But when he isn't joking around, he's got a good heart and is a really decent guy. He has an unusual upbringing, in that he was raised by his father who runs a strip club. At an early age therefore he was always surrounded by women, so he is very comfortable around them. It also gave him a healthy dose of respect for women in all kinds of circumstances, who do what is necessary to make ends meet. When he's with the guys at the garage he jokes around a lot (and those scenes were quite fun). When he meets Lara's nieces he charms them too. In fact, that's his greatest asset - his ability to charm the people around him. But he's also a hard worker and a loyal friend. Lara is an equally strong female character. She's working hard to get above the poverty line (where she grew up), by putting herself through school to become a nurse and working at the bar where the guys from the shop hang out. It's a bit of a rough place, but she's used to it. She often babysits her 2 young nieces. (And as a side note - the author does a great job of making the children in her stories very likable and realistic). Getting involved with Johnny might be a mistake, but he's too handsome to resist. Plus he's funny, and sexy and makes her feel good. There were some slow sections in the plot for me in this one, and it's fairly low on drama other than the interactions with Lara's sister's ex-husband who shows up periodically. It didn't quite have the pull of the McCauley brothers series for me, and I'm not quite sure why that is, because all of the characters were appealing, and the sexy times were definitely hot! Maybe my expectations were just really high based on my previous experiences with this author's writing. It's definitely a blue collar romance, and Johnny's sweet side makes the story worth reading. I'm planning to continue the series, and hopefully the next one will grab me a bit better. 3.5 stars
Lashea677 10 months ago
ARC Review: Test Drive (Body Shop Bad Boys) by Marie Harte Johnny wears his bad boy title like a medal of honor. That in itself is temptation personified. What pushed me over the edge? His body language and attitude are contradictory to his actions. When he cares for someone or something, he gives his full attention. Lara was about to get an up close and personal look at the makings of this complicated man. Lara has one objective and it does not include looking for trouble. When trouble comes looking for her, she has to decide if the danger is worth the payout. The Body Shop Bad Boys series is off to a wickedly sexy start.
Anonymous 8 months ago
The male characters lacked confidence and maturity. It's hard to connect with anyone except the female lead. I had to check to see if this was YA.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Test. <p> paragraph. <br> break.
Anonymous 9 months ago