Chandler Scott is a talented mechanic at Jim Irving’s garage. The garage is being wooed to appear in Wrench Wars, a reality show pitting garages against one another. Chandler has no desire to be on the show; he knows they want him because his constant fights with his jerk of a boss will make for good reality TV. But without Chandler, the show won’t film there and he is facing pressure from the other mechanics to sign his contract.
Chandler’s only ally is his best friend/friend with benefits Mark, Jim’s son. Student loans and a poor job market have left Mark with little choice but to live at home and work for his dad. He has to hide the fact that he is gay since there is no way his homophobic father would tolerate him otherwise. And he definitely can’t let on that he and Chandler have been lovers for the past couple of years.
The guys have managed to keep their secret, but when the show producers catch them in a hookup, they have the leverage over Chandler they have been looking for — sign on to the show or they will out Mark. Chandler is miserable, but willing to do whatever it takes to protect Mark, the man he has grown to love. Now Mark has to decide how far he is willing to go to protect his secret, and whether he will have to choose his family and security over his feelings for Chandler.
Last Mechanic Standing is the first book in the Wrench Wars series written by both L.A. Witt and Marie Sexton. Two books in the series were previously released as part of a collection with Amber Allure and now those two are being re-released, along with Last Mechanic Standing and another new book, through Dreamspinner Press.
I tend to enjoy reality TV-based books and this story does a nice job giving us the seamy side of things. Chandler wants nothing to do with the show, but his coworkers see it as a path to fame and fortune. Chandler is manipulated and blackmailed to finally agree and we see him struggle to deal with all the negative impact of being on the show, including being goaded into fights and internet notoriety. I did find it a little hard to believe that this random reality show would garner so much attention that people all over the internet were focused on him and he is subject of memes, etc. I mean, there are tons of reality shows at there right now and even the biggest ones hardly make stars anymore. But you just have to go with it and it illustrates the point that Chandler is facing a really crappy situation in order to protect Mark.
I liked both of these guys and I enjoyed seeing how they looked out for and did their best to protect one another. They are kind of floating in friends with benefits limbo for a while, though it is clear that there are more feelings below the surface. They both seem like good people and I wanted them to find their way out of this bad situation. I just found that I didn’t quite connect with them or their relationship. I think it is party due to the fact that we kind of come in the story in the middle of things — the reality show is already set up and pressuring Chandler, the guys are already hooking up, etc. So we don’t really see things develop between the guys and I didn’t quite feel the shift from friends to romance. I don’t have a lot of specific criticisms, I just didn’t quite feel the spark between them or from the story.
Overall I found this a nice, quick read. I like both Chandler and Mark and liked the bit of behind the scenes we get on the reality show. I wanted to feel more of a connection between them to really make the book take off for me, but I did like both characters.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.