Mint Condition: A Classic Car Romance, Book 1
When Maddie Kerrigan’s beloved grandfather dies, she must sell the treasured 1953 Cadillac they had lovingly restored. When handsome, wealthy Nick Berlin shows up at the funeral ready to buy the car, sparks fly. Is Nick what he seems to be or is he the representative of the man who sent Maggie’s father to prison? Maggie takes off for California to find her father and to find answers, sometimes in company with Nick and sometimes alone. But in California, they discover that there are others willing to do anything to get possession of the car.
Theme of the Book
In Mint Condition, the two main characters share traumatic pasts that they can never really escape. The past, especially childhood, makes these characters the people they are today. But while it is a strong influence, the past does not determine the present or the future. Both characters must come to terms with the influence of the past in order to build a new future.
What I Liked About the Story
Most romance novels I have read (and, admittedly, these aren’t many) follow a basic pattern: A young couple fall in love; the young woman rejects the man because of some dark secret or misunderstanding; a crisis brings them back together and the secret or misunderstanding is explained. Mint Condition, on the other hand, has a young couple who actually talk to one another. How refreshing! Maddie does have a tendency to run off when things get difficult, but her practical nature and common sense bring her back before she can reject Nick out of hand.
Both Nick and Maddie are victims of their pasts with their fathers. Both feel abandoned but Maddie’s abandonment leaves her feeling unworthy of love and afraid that anyone she loves, whether family or a man, will abandon her again. Nick’s sense of abandonment has filled him with hatred toward his father and an inability to commit to love. Although in some ways they are both typical of romance novels – he is rich, handsome and damaged, she young, beautiful and independent yet fears of being left hinder her. What makes these two different is their ability to share their problems and their link, through the car, to a troubled past.
The car, an inanimate character in the novel, is the tie that binds the story together. For both Maddie and Nick, the car is the symbol of an inescapable past. Both are tied to the car through their parents: Maddie through both her mother and father and Nick through his father. To Maddie, the car is a symbol of a golden age when her mother was alive and she was sure of her father’s love. Nick, though, sees the car as a symbol of his father’s abuse of his mother and of his father’s unsavory past. Yet the car also plays a part in determining their future and in symbolizing a golden future that can, if not erase, be a symbol of their love and acceptance.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
There are not many surprises in Mint Condition. A few of the details, like those of both Maddie’s and Nick’s fathers’ pasts, provide a bit of drama, but the ending will be easily predicted by any reader of romance novels.
The villain is sufficiently villainous and some of his back story is given, but the two thugs, George and Leon, simply appear with no explanation given of who they are working for. Leon is quite a good character and a bit more of his story would have been appreciated. The same applies to other peripheral characters: Flo and Walter, Luke, Gina, and Louise.
On the whole, this was a good example of one of the better romance novels. Given the constraints of the genre, the main characters were well-developed and believable. The story moves at a good pace with enough sex scenes to satisfy readers. These scenes, while detailed, were not overly graphic and were well-written. Using the car as a main plot point was genius, even for those of us who are not car lovers. Mint Condition is a well-written, engaging romance that will become a favorite of romance readers.