Drive Me Crazy by Kate Angell
(Love Spell, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52559-3
Drive Me Crazy is more romance cartoon than novel, and nobody over the age of twelve is likely to find it amusing. Unless, of course, your reading taste runs to inept, bimbo “heroines” who lie their way into situations to get what they want, cardboard, macho “heroes” who think with their zipper, and a plot that resembles Swiss cheese. I found myself reading faster and faster, just to get it over with.

TZ Blake, ace auto mechanic, literally runs into Cade Nyland in the parking lot of a Florida bar where she’s come to enter a Tight Butt contest. TZ needs to pay off debts left by her aunt Elise when TZ inherited Elise’s garage, and the butt money will help. (Talk about putting your ass on the line.) Cade is the stereotypical rich bad-boy who shows up at the family corporation now and then to get the important deals done, but other than that, spends his time running around the country in his Corvette doing road rallies. He has sinfully dark eyes, a body to die for, hair tied back with a leather thong, blah, blah. To complete the color-by-numbers kit of Alpha Hero, he comes complete with a barbed-wire tattoo circling his bicep. Yawn.

Cade got in my Bad Boy bad books on page two, when he revealed himself as one of those annoying jerks who parks diagonally across several spaces to protect their precious car. He doesn’t know who TZ is, of course, but of course, it’s the mysterious “TZ Blake” he’s trying to find, hoping to hire the man as his mechanic and navigator for the four-day Sun Coast Run. Cade also happens to be a judge in the Tight Butt contest, so TZ’s identity is revealed pretty quickly.

Swallowing his manly pride, Cade offers TZ the job anyway. TZ, in one of those convenient plot setups that bear little resemblance to real life, is an ace auto mechanic but can’t read a road map. Not at all. She navigates by some sort of “seventh sense” that gets her where she needs to go. Rather than tell Cade she’d be no use as a navigator, however, TZ accepts the job because she needs the money. When somebody cuts the brake line on Cade’s Corvette, TZ agrees to rent him the ’65 Mustang that belonged to Aunt Elise. In fact, Aunt Elise haunts the car and controls its movements whenever she feels like it. And the vibration of the Mustang’s engine brings TZ close to orgasm, so a protracted ride in it will push both TZ and Cade into an extended period of engine-induced horniness. Predictable jokes about pumping pistons invited.

The secondary characters are just as irritating. Kimmie, TZ’s friend, is a hottie in a thong who also happens to be a virgin and has decided to marry another of the rally drivers after knowing him for five minutes. Mick Wilcox and his mechanic, Skinner, are the requisite slimeballs. Marisa Ashton-Lord is a rich widow with three dead husbands who wants to get her claws into Cade, and what better way than to enter the Sun Coast Run herself?

I had no idea how a road rally operates, and I sure didn’t get any clues from this book. A quick Google search turned up several informative sites, and this concise overview:

The goal of a Road Rally is to travel the correct route at the correct speeds, and arrive at ``checkpoints'' precisely on time. You are scored on how closely to the correct time you arrive. A Road Rally is not a race, and no rally will ever require you to drive in a reckless or illegal fashion. Arriving too early at a checkpoint hurts your score, as does arriving too late.

Cade and TZ (and Aunt Elise) zoom around the countryside, however, screeching tires and taking shortcuts while planning ways to get into each other’s pants. The main goal of this “rally” seems to be fast driving, partying, and sex. TZ can’t manage to write the odometer numbers on a legal pad, either, even though the explanation Cade gives her is sufficient enough for the reader to be able to navigate; instead, she draws bunnies and checkerboards, then gets defensive when Cade asks what the hell she’s doing?

Oh, enough of this annoying book and its even more annoying characters. If anything here piques your interest, have at it with my blessing. Maybe my Bimbo Tolerance is at an all-time low, but I found Drive Me Crazy too relentlessly silly to recommend for anything. It’s too thick to even make a good coaster.

--Cathy Sova

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