Trick My Truck, But Don’t Mess With My Heart

Luann McLane
2008, Contemporary Romance
Signet, $6.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451222865

Grade: B
Sensuality: Subtle

I admit, I picked up Trick My Truck, But Don’t Mess With My Heart simply because I couldn’t get over the title. But I’ve already admitted I judge books by their covers, so I figured a title wasn’t too far removed.

LuAnn McLane's latest takes place in a small, quiet, southern town where nothing much happens, and the plot follows similar lines. Not relying on big bangs (explosions or otherwise) or fancy monsters to drive the story, McLane focuses instead on character development and the growth of various sorts of relationships to hold interest, and it works. I’ve read a lot of plot-driven books recently, so this was a nice change of pace.

Candie leaves her big job in the city and returns to her small town roots when her father falls ill and leaves his used car business close to bankruptcy. Though she has every intention of returning to Chicago, she’s really excited to go home, spend some time with her family, and see her twin sister Sarah. But, as she arrives, she finds that the town has changed. No one waves as she drives by. People ignore her on the street. No one welcomes her back. But wait … no, people are waving to others. They’re stopping and chatting to each other. They’re just ignoring … her.

It turns out Sarah and her fiancé Nick broke up over another woman. And somehow that other woman is Candie. In order to cool the town’s fury and regain her social standing, Candie needs a boyfriend - fast. In comes Tommy Tucker, who’s willing to play along for awhile. Candie and Sarah start taking over the business and revamping it with their own ideas, and Candie finds herself sinking back into her little home town, with Chicago fading into the past. She has to make big decisions about her future, her business, and where Tommy fits into everything.

There were a couple of pacing problems in the story - a month goes by in the space of a sentence after two days of a couple of chapters each - and I would have liked to have seen more of the building of Candie and Tommy’s relationship. The whole book is also written in the first person, present tense, which was a little jarring when I first started, but actually worked really well with Candie’s voice.

In spite (or perhaps because?) of its unwieldy title, Trick My Truck is a light, gentle read that relies on likable characters navigating through real problems and real situations. A lack of contrivance and some genuine humor make this novel a breath of fresh air - from a general Southerly direction.

LLB: I had a similar reaction to this book, although my grade was a B- rather than a B. I'd never read a single title release by McLane before, although I have read some of her steamier short stories, so an actual fault I found with the book was its paucity of love scenes. Still, the heroine's voice and the book's humor reminded me of Linda Howard's Blair Mallory books, which is a huge compliment from me. The back cover blurb does the book a disservice; after reading it I expected a full dose of cornpone. Luckily it wasn't; it was just good, gentle romance and a lot of laughter.

-- Kate Cuthbert

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