Title: Chasing Victory
Author: Tory Temple
Publisher: Torquere Books
Length: Novel (132 pages/55000 words)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
Mitchell Baker has been driving fast cars since he was old enough to reach the pedals. A professional, seasoned driver on the top level of the stock car circuit, Mitch has sponsors who are looking to him for a championship. Mitch is having issues with his job, wondering if he still has the passion for what he does. Mitch just knows if he can just find a true good luck charm, a first place finish is in his future.
Pacey Evans is a traveling track paramedic during race season. When a minor crash during a race introduces him to Mitch, Mitch discovers that Pacey might be just what he needs to take the checkered flag and please his hungry sponsors. He’s willing to keep their friendship with benefits revved up if he can keep winning. But what happens if Pacey wants to be more than Mitch’s lucky charm? And what is Mitch going to do if he has to choose between his personal relationships and his job. Can Mitch and Pacey find a smooth road without sending up a caution flag? Read Chasing Victory to find out!
I admit that I’m a sucker for sports-themed books. Though I’m not a fan of racing — I am against the wasting use of precious fossil fuels that way — I am okay with reading about it, and thus I really wanted to love Chasing Victory, the first book by this author that I’ve read. Unfortunately, this generally well-written book had some issues for me that made that difficult, and I will explain those in a bit.
Driver Mitch, our third-person narrator, meets Pacey on the track of a race during which he’s had a minor accident. Instantly attracted to Pacey’s blue eyes as the medic attends to him, he needs to be careful as he’s pretty firmly in the closet; encounters need to be keep well away from the track and the prying eyes that come with being good at what he does. Seeing Pacey around encourages Mitch to begin a casual sex-only relationship with him, and they see each other as often as possible during the racing season. An unexpected side-effect of being with Pacey is that Mitch starts to see him as his key to good racing and begins to worry about what’s going to happen when temporary travelling medic Pacey needs to leave the circuit to go back to his real life. But Mitch is having even more problems; his father is ill, his passion for the sport is waning, and he is having confusing, new feelings about Pacey. When he botches a conversation about their relationship with Pacey, who wants more, it all comes tumbling down. Is this the end to life as he knows it, or is it just a beginning?
What worked for me:
I love flawed characters that grow over the course of a story and I felt Mitch did that here. He discovers his priorities. He learns who he is and what he wants. He learns the difference between sex and good luck charms and love. I really liked this hero, a confused man on the edge of the end of his career after racing for more than a decade, who has lost some of his lost love for the sport, who has never been in love and obviously doesn’t know it when it comes up and — perhaps literally — bites him on the ass. He isn’t perfect, and the author has left some holes in him (more on that later), but overall, I thought he was a good character.
The sporting aspect of it was very interesting and perhaps was one of the better things about the story. We’re given enough detail to make it interesting, yet not so much that it makes the readers’ eyes gloss over or go completely over our heads. I liked reading about what goes on before the race, the unfortunate fact that just about everyone involved needs to answer to someone all of the time, the joy of the win.
Esthela, Mitch’s father’s Cuban, spitfire caregiver, who I adored.
The story, for me, lacked depth of just about anything except for Mitch. Easy-going Pacey, our other hero, essentially melted into the background, never really having any substance or character. We learn almost nothing about him, very little of his personality ever had an opportunity to shine through, nor do we ever find out what is really going on in his mind throughout their time together, during and after the disastrous conversation that changes just about everything.
Pacey is just one missed opportunity to take the story deeper. The other secondary cast is generally as shallow as Pacey. There is a sub-plot of Mitch’s ill father that I thought wasn’t explored enough. There are also several instances where conflict or drama of some kind could have enhanced the story: I anticipated some kind of confrontation(s) with his competitor on the track, Danny Abrams, that never materialized. I thought there might be some discussion over the disparity over Mitch and Pacey’s income difference, but it was mentioned internally once by Mitch and that was that. I thought there might be an outing situation, but nothing. I was hoping for insight into his reasoning for being in the closet, but it’s glossed over.
Additionally, as the book progressed, there were several instances of what I felt to be contrived and convenient happenings and resolutions. The epilogue made little sense to and frustrated me, giving our heroes an HEA with us not being involved in it at all. And apparently, they didn’t need to fight for it, which, given Mitch’s issues, didn’t seem realistic, and left me with questions about how they got there and how/if they resolved their problems.
It’s interesting; I’ve read a string of books recently that, while not terrible, I’ve had mixed feelings about, and Chasing Victory is another one in that list. That being said, if you’re a fan of this author, have a soft spot for sports-themed books, or love racing, this may be a good read for you. As always, I am am just one reader and opinion.