Offtrack By Esha Patel Book Review

Offtrack By Esha Patel Book Review

Thank you NetGalley and Avon Publishing for this free advance copy for an honest review.

Offtrack, by Esha Patel, is a feminist dream set in the fast-paced world of Formula 1 racing. Diana Zahrani is the first female in Formula 1, and she’s breaking records and winning hearts. It’s an awesome idea, and I was excited to give it a read.

This story is so sweet and heartfelt. I felt like it inhabited its world a little awkwardly because of this. Maybe if they were contestants in a baking competition? I’m a huge fan of Drive To Survive, so I was hooked by the idea of this book. Unfortunately, it was missing the drama and raw sex appeal of the high-stakes world that is Formula 1.

Offtrack Plot

Diana Zahrani is Formula One’s first female racing driver this century. All the other drivers are told to race carefully around her and leave her to her real job: being a pretty face and good advertising for a hypermasculine sport. But Diana’s not worked this hard her whole life just to be a mascot. World Championship favourite Miguel de la Fuente is not taking any rookie seriously, let alone a woman. With his first championship win looming, all he has to do is stay focused – and make sure Diana stays out of his way. But motorsports is a small world, and as Diana and Miguel race their way through the season, they’re forced to face each other again and again. When sparks fly, Miguel and Diana must decide for the sake of their teams where their priorities lie: on track, with the championship, or offtrack, with each other…

Offtrack Review

As I said, this is a really heartfelt story. You really get behind Diana and want her to win. She’s an underdog fighting battles on all fronts. Her immediate success is improbable, but the author has the right idea. A woman in Formula 1 wouldn’t be given the chance to make mistakes and build her career. No rookie would ever do as well as Diana does, but it makes for a good story, and I even got choked up at the end.

The characters of Miguel and Diana are very sweet. It’s all longing and love and almost no sizzle. This is a vanilla romance story. There’s one brief sex scene; there are not even any heavy make-out sessions or slow-burn touches. It’s purely about the emotions, which is sweet, but I think it missed sex appeal, especially as it was trying to fit into the racing world.

I did enjoy the world of racing it inhabited. This was an easy read. The fast pace of the story and the building of drama over the different races kept me interested. The way Formula 1 operates is perfect for this kind of romance. There’s drama in almost everything that happens. And the forbidden romance adds some spice. I just wanted more sex appeal! I don’t expect smut, but a gripping slow burn like Mariana Zapata would definitely elevate this. I even wondered halfway through if this was actually a YA instead of a Romance, but the characters are a bit old to be YA.

This is no feminist rant, but it still gets its message across. Diana is a woman trying to force her way into a man’s world. There’s some great subtle moments that show this, like her getting her period for a race and the ignorance of her male competitors, or the way her past is weaponised against her, while the same is applauded in her male counterparts. The feminism at the start is not as subtle, so I don’t think it worked as well, but Patel settles in and hits her stride. Some of the misogynistic male characters are very one-dimensional, unfortunately.

Miguel is the male main character, and again, the best way to describe him is sweet. He’s dressed up to be a partying playboy but I didn’t get that from his personality at all. I also didn’t understand his arranged marriage at the beginning. Also, this is only a note from personal experience. I currently live in Barcelona and Miguel’s family would most probably be Catalan, and speak that language, and refer to it as Catalonia, not Spain, but that’s not something you’d understand unless you lived here.

Offtrack

3/5

Overall I enjoyed Offtrack. It’s an easy read. It’s got a great feminist undertone, which is all wrapped up in a palatable sweet romance. Formula 1 is daring and sexy, so I’m kind of surprised at how unsexy this story was. Spice it up a bit more and I think we’d have a podium finish.

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