North Carolina author Ann McMan

“The Big Tow: An Unlikely Romance”
by Ann McMan
©2020, Bywater Books
$17.95
340 pages

Two wheels hooked.

That was your vehicle: two wheels on the ground, the other two in the air, safely attached to a bar hooked on both ends to a big truck. Oh, how you hate shredded tires, check-engine lights, busted radiators, dead batteries, and the guy with the rig, but in the new book “The Big Tow” by Ann McMan, a wired starter isn’t the only thing that’s hot.

Vera “Nick” Nicholson had put in her time.

After six years at Turner, Witherspoon, Anders and Tyler, Attorneys at Law, Nick thought she might’ve achieved partner, but no. Instead, because she was the firm’s only “brown” employee and because senior partners figured “floor-scraping assignments” would be “second nature” to her, that’s what she got — like, for instance, the latest case, a stolen car. Nick didn’t know jack about stolen cars. She had no contacts there in North Carolina to ask for help. And that’s how she ended up at National Recovery Bureau, a back-lot repo business run by a chain-smoking, no-nonsense older woman with zero patience, and a guy named Fast Eddie.

For $500, they helped Nick find the car.

When Fast Eddie enticed her with 10 G’s in cash for “profit sharing,” that was a big surprise. So was the offer of a part-time job from NRB. And so was the co-worker NRB assigned to Nick, a gorgeous blonde named Frankie. She had a killer body and enough imagination to figure out how to complete the toughest cases.

Meanwhile, Nick used her imagination to think about Frankie’s killer body.

Despite the danger and the hassle, working for NRB did have its benefits: the money was great and the company was even better, and Nick cautiously allowed herself to fall in love. She and Frankie were becoming more than just partners at work; they were a couple that happened to work together, and they did a good job.

But there was something off about Fast Eddie…

Despite that it leans a bit toward wordiness and could have used maybe one less caper, “The Big Tow” is a true delight — but not for the reasons you might think.

Author Ann McMan’s two main characters are certainly likable: Nick is one of those people you want in your corner, and Frankie seems like someone you’d have drinks with. The real appeal of this book, though, lies in the world surrounding these two. The dispatcher at NRB and Nick’s gay roommate are spit-out-your-coffee funny, and you must read this book to learn who Carol Jenkins is. There are dotty mothers, wise fathers, a goth girl at a funeral home and a Yoda-type butcher who speaks in hints. Though he’s really basically a caricature, even Fast Eddie is someone you’ll look for as you’re reading this book.

This is the kind of story that, if it happened to you, you’d get plenty of mileage out of it at your next party. It’s got romance, action, humor, and theft — how can you go wrong? Start “The Big Tow” and you’ll be hooked.

Ann McMan is a Lambda Literary Award winning author who resides in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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