February 06, 1989 12:00 PM

by Kristin McCloy

McCloy makes this first novel into a respectable project even though it sometimes seems to be one long sex scene interrupted by time-outs for sweating and drinking. It is set in a North Carolina town where 25-year-old Ellie has come (from New York) because her mother has just died in a car crash and she wants to be with her father. Ellie stays on for the summer, gets a waitress job, and on her way home she passes a shack with a biker type on the front porch. One night she strolls by and asks him for a ride. He asks where. “I don’t care,” she says. “I just want to go fast.” It’s clear Ellie is not one to play hard to get, and she is soon enraptured with the biker, who turns out to be a part-Indian, semi-Hell’s Angel, all-drug dealer named Jesse. Since Ellie is a bright college grad and an aspiring theatrical director, she and Jesse don’t exactly seem like an ideal couple, but then Ellie isn’t after him for his insights into Chekhov. She is one of those modern, liberated fictional women, thrilled at the mere sight of Jesse’s “Ride Hard, Die Free” tattoo; the realization that he is the sort of hunk who can wake up in the morning and not have to urinate right away makes her swoon altogether. McCloy keeps things this side of self-parody and creates a palpable tension between Ellie and her poor old dad, who is, needless to say, a local cop. There’s a visit from Ellie’s comparatively nerdy New York boyfriend and a painful plot twist to distract one’s attention from the accumulation of implausibilities. Things get wrapped up before anybody has too much time to consider Ellie’s explanation for her passion over Jesse: “I love him because he leaves me no choice.” Hey, Ellie, sweetie, what about the personals? The Mating Game? Or how about just devoting your life to mah-jongg? (Random House, $16.95)

You May Like