Chasing Victory

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Title: Chasing Victory
Author: Tory Temple
Publisher: Torquere Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Novel (132 pages/55000 words)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

THE BLURB

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!

THE REVIEW

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.

What didn’t:

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.

OVERALL

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.

10 comments

  • Thanks for stopping by and commenting Josie. I’m glad you liked it — I generally did, too, even with my issues. And I agree that the book was well-written. Reviews are just one opinion and from the comments here you can see others feel the same way you do. In fact, I would think that readers stopping by would pick this up now based on the comments, rather than my review, which is fine with me!

    Reply
  • Hi Lynn ~

    Thanks for a clear and well written review, as always. I bought this when it came out despite not having much of an interest in racing. I definitely agree that the author did an admirable job of not making the racing parts boring at all.

    However, I think I have to side with the other commenters and say that I feel the ending was about as realistic as things can get in a romance novel. There was some predictability, sure. Parts of the ending and the epilogue were a stretch. But all in all, the book as a whole was very well written and flowed so easily that I think the author helped me to suspend that belief for a while and understand why the two characters ended up together.

    I see why you had some issues with parts of this book. We’re all looking for different things! I think this story deserves a read by others, though. It’s got some really good parts that definitely outweigh the iffy ones.

    Thanks again for a fair review.

    Reply
  • Lynn

    All of the comments are sufficiently intriguing to make me want to read this book. I like most of Tory Temple’s books and next to baseball, books about race car drivers are up there for me 🙂 So it’s a good bet that I will be reading Chasing Victory.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the comments ladies. While I agree somewhat with what you’re both saying, here’s what the problems are for me about the ending: Pacey is in an enigma to me, and the ending did nothing to help that; I asked myself if Mitch has or will officially come out (it is not addressed at all); I want to know how they got to the epilogue (did they talk at all about what happened, or did they just ignore it because Mitch was obviously sorry?). It seemed too…easy, I guess. I think I liked the idea of the epilogue, and if we had been shown more than vaguely told, I would have been better about it. But as I have always said, we readers are all different and I love that about us; just because something did or didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that everyone else will feel the same way, and here is a clear example.

    Reply
  • I’m with Ingrid, I really liked the end. Too often in books they get together profess their undying love, fall into each others arms and live HEA. In this case Pacey wasn’t willing to just forget everything. He’d been hurt badly and he wanted to be sure it wasn’t going to happen again which I think is more realistic than being so turned on your brain ceases to function. So that was something I liked a lot about the book, it was different. But on the whole I agree with your review, there were some things I would have liked to know more about but for me it was a nice little read about characters that I liked. Nice clear review Lynn.

    Reply
  • I did not mind the end. The how sorry he was, that he wanted to make it up etc etc part.
    For me it felt that they started from scratch to get to know each other and work from there. That worked for me.

    Reply

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