Reviewed by Tori
“Give her hell, Sam Hamilton. And try to look less serial killer and more solid citizen. Smile, why don’t you?”
He forced a smile at her.
Willie blinked. “Eh, maybe not.”
Sam Hamilton has been feeling about lonely since his best friend found his soulmate. When he meets Ivy Stephens, a young lady who is interested in adopting one of the strays he helps to rehome, Sam falls hard and fast. But Sam has some serious baggage in his life. Baggage that will do anything to make sure Sam’s attention stays firmly on them. As Sam and Ivy grow closer, Sam is worried Ivy may be too nice to fit into his life. But Ivy soon proves to Sam and everyone else that being nice doesn’t mean she can’t get down and dirty when she needs to.
Zero to Sixty is the third installment in Marie Harte’s sexy and humorous Body Shop Bad Boys. This series spins off her McCauley brothers series with its focus lasered on the Webster Garage and the four gorgeous, sexy, commitment-phobic mechanics who work there. There is some character/storyline crossover but it’s mild and not invasive. Each book can be read as a standalone though previous romance storylines carry over.
Harte introduces Ivy Stephens to Sam Hamilton with a bit of a meet cute. Ivy is out searching for a stray puppy (Cookie) she has been taking care of on and off. Sam is also out looking for Cookie. They run into one another and Sam agrees to keep Cookie at his home until Ivy can talk to her landlord about having a pet. Sam decides the best way to get to know this gorgeous woman better is to vet her for Cookie’s sake through a few “dates.”
“Ah, just so we’re clear, we don’t give dogs away to just anyone who wants them.”
“I mean, puppies are popular. We’d have no problem getting him a good home. A friend of mine was asking about this little guy just the other week.”
She frowned. “I have a good home.”
“If you’re not busy tomorrow night, we can grab a beer or something. Talk about plans for Cookie.”
I reviewed the first two books in the series- Test Drive and Road Assistance-and thoroughly enjoyed. Harte does a wonderful job of individualizing the characters and storyline so you don’t feel as if you’re reading the same romantic set up with just different names. This installment felt softer and less conflicted than the first two. The same engaging narrative, sexually enhanced romance and endearingly characters are present but Harte chooses to leave the dramatics by the curb and gently walk this couple to their HEA.
Sam is the best friend and roommate of Foley Sangers (the hero of Road Assistance). Also a mechanic at Webster’s Garage, Sam was pretty much raised by Foley’s mom, Eleanor, his own mother an abusive addict. Single, gorgeous, and ripped, Sam is honest to a fault and a total gentleman despite what his size and mannerisms suggest. A bit of a loner, Sam’s relationships with the opposite sex consists mainly of hook ups. The most important things in Sam’s life are Foley, Foley’s mom, and his job.
Ivy is a massage therapist who stays to herself. Intelligent, good looking, and a genuinely nice person, Ivy is also a bit of a loner as her family has all but abandoned her for reasons unknown and her last serious boyfriend used her to get through school then dumped her. Ivy doesn’t carry a chip on her shoulder like Sam does. She is content with herself and her life.
Harte takes Sam and Ivy’s relationship slow, allowing them the time to get to know one another using an appealing mixture of trepidation and awkwardness. Opposite attraction romances are the best and Harte does this one with justice. Fantastic dialogue, dry humorous wit, and a layered storyline allows readers to see beneath the surface and experience first hand the emotional issues they are dealing with. Ivy has pretty much laid her demons to rest but Sam is still struggling with his childhood, his time in prison, and general feelings of unworthiness. Ivy sees Sam and accepts him as he is because she understands the root of his pain. She is someone he has unknowingly been searching for. I love the humor she uses to help defuse his guilt and shame.
“So there you have it. You’re dating an ex-con.”
“Can I ask you something personal?”
“Is it true every prisoner makes license plates? Did you wear black and white striped uniforms? Have a ball chained to your ankle? Break up rocks with an Acme pickaxe?”
“You watch way too much TV.”
The sexual role reversal in here is interesting and works with the overall tone of story. Ivy is the one who not only sets the parameters of their relationship but also initiates the initial sexual aspect. She instinctively understands that Sam has some confusion between intimacy and sex and gives him all the power as she sets out to seduce him.
“You said I can touch you, right?”
“Yeah, don’t stop. Just keep petting me, baby.” He blinked at her once, then shut his eyes and groaned. “I’m gonna sit…right…here.” He shook, then sat unmoving, breathing hard.
“God, you’re gorgeous.” She stroked him from his chest to his belly button, never having been so close to perfection before. Then, because she figured the poor man had suffered enough, and her underwear would never be salvaged if she kept stringing this out, she unsnapped his jeans.
He started, his eyes remaining closed.
“You still okay?”
He swallowed. “Yeah.”
Barely a whisper, but he’d given consent.
Of course, no Harte book would be complete without the antics of the rambunctious Webster mechanics and various other characters from this series. They all step in, unasked, to help Sam deal with these new feelings of his and to explain why Rays wasn’t the right choice for a first date. Harte introduces a few new characters whose personalities fit right in with this bunch and I hope we see more of them in the future.
Zero to Sixty is a lightweight romance contemporary brimming laughter, love, and family. Perfect escapism for the romance lover in all of us. Looking forward to book four, Collision Course, which is Lou’s story. *fist pump* Release date is 10/27/2017.