Clever Girl by Laralyn Doran

Clever Girl

Posted on February 23, 2023 by Nadene @ Totally Addicted to Reading in Reviews / 9 Comments

Clever Girl by Laralyn Doran, book three in the Driven Women series delivered a friends to lovers, closed proximity sports romance set in the world of race car driving. Once again, Doran delivered an engaging read featuring likeable characters in realistic situations. 



Clever Girl by Laralyn DoranTitle: Clever Girl
Author(s): Laralyn Doran
Series: Driven Women #3
Also in this series: A Fast Woman, Boss Lady
Published by Self Published on February 21, 2023
Pages: 425
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Source: Publicist
Format: eArc
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Series Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Heat Level: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

Mia St. James
Men want me. I rev their engines.No, really, it's my job to make their cars go faster.Some say I'm the perfect woman—but not Gus Quinlan.In college, I knew not to lose my heart to him. Yet, he still managed to break it.Years later, he helps me land a dream job with a women-led race team.He even invites me to be his roommate—that's how far in the "friend zone" I am.Until he kisses me and promises I'm more.
Some say I'm sharp, others say clever…but when it comes to Gus, I can be such a fool. Is my heart strong enough to give him a second chance when the smart thing to do is to leave him in the rearview mirror?
Gus Quinlan
In my life, I have women I date and friends who are women…and then there is Mia St. James.She crashes into my well-constructed world with the sweetness I rememberand a new sexy confidence that has me spinning my wheels.My friends warn me not to cross that line.Until we're on a romantic beach under the moonlight, and…come on—I couldn't not kiss her.
When forced to relive a trauma, I misread the data and destroy our bond. I can rebuild a hundred-thousand-dollar engine…but how do I repair us?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.


As an avid reader of this series, I eagerly awaited Gus’s story. I knew it would take a special woman to break through his walls and Doran created such a woman in Mia St. James. Mia works as an engineer in the male-dominated field of stock car racing. She is good at her job. However, her confidence took a hit when her ex took credit for her work. This led to him receiving the promotion as crew chief, which was meant for her. The opportunity to once again prove herself in the field arose when her best friend from college recommended her for the engineer position for the female racing team.

Although they’ve been out of touch since their time in college, Gus kept tabs on Mia. He was aware of the rumors spreading in the industry regarding the fall out with her previous employers. He knew she would fit in perfectly with the Merlo Racing team and had no qualms about recommending her for the engineer position. However, unbeknownst to him, car engines weren’t the only thing she would be revving. 

Mia and Gus shared an awesome chemistry. However, their fear of rejection served hindered them from exploring their feelings for each other. During their time in college, Mia developed feelings for Gus, however his only interest then was playing the field. Years later, his interest remained the same. He’s charming and sexy, with women falling at his feet, but he has no interest in making a commitment. The deeper one gets into the story, the reason for his commitment phobia became clear. He had serious issues, which led to him having a warped view of love.

I loved how easily Gus and Mia slipped back into the friendship zone despite their years of separation. I also loved their journey from friends to lovers. It was fun seeing the mighty Gus fall. The ribbing by his friends and the role his mom played in getting the two of them together added to the fun. Although there was a point in the story where Gus’s issues creeped in and almost messed it all up. Lucky for him, Mia was in a forgiving mood. Although it took some groveling on his part, with help from friends, to get her to the place of forgiveness. 

The secondary characters brought humour and snark to the story. It was also fun catching up with the characters from the previous books. I am here wondering if Harper’s brother and a particular footballer will be getting their own story.

Overall, Clever Girl delivered a story of friendship, love, trust, and healing. I enjoyed my journey with Mia and Gus and look forward to what next Doran has in store for her readers. 


Story Evaluation
World Building
Writing Style
Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star


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About Laralyn Doran

Laralyn Doran is a multi-award winning writer of fun, contemporary romance and dark, urban fantasy romance. Her latest manuscript, “A Fast Woman” is an “enemies-to-lovers” racing romance, set to release in the fall of 2020 and will be the first in the “Driven Women” series. In 2019, “A Fast Woman” was awarded The Writer Award, given by the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA). Laralyn is a proud special needs mom, and an autism and dyslexia awareness advocate.  She lives in Maryland and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, Washington Romance Writers, and other affiliate chapters, where she met some amazing and supportive authors who have had the patience of saints and given her more than one kick in the backside.

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