Dear Ms. St. Claire:
I picked this novel up as the Nascar themed romances had me curious and because I had enjoyed your single titles. I read this book after watching the last 32 laps of the Daytona 500. Preceeding the race were reports of cheating by major NASCAR teams along with articles critisizing Teresa Earnhardt, one of the few female owners in NASCAR. All of these issues were touched on in some respects making the book relevant and timely. The heroine’s hollow and seemingly foolish resistance to a much needed cash infusion and an out of nowhere suspense plot at the end dampens my excitement for the book.
Shelby Jackson is part owner of Thunder Racing, one of the last family owned race teams in NASCAR. As a family owned team, the company suffers poor cash flow and has a hard time competing against the corporate run ones. Her partner and grandfather suggests selling his share of the team to another person who can bring publicity and infuse much needed cash into the team.
Mick Churchill is a superstar soccer player (think David Beckham) who is nearing the end of his career. For various reasons, not all of them he shares with Shelby, he needs to join the team and win a race. Shelby resists but as she watches Mick sweet talk everyone around her, she begins to wonder if Mick isn’t the right thing, not only for her team, but also for her.
Shelby is admirable in her love for the sport of racing and her determination to carry out her dead father’s dreams. Shelby stays close to her father by living the racing life. The squeaky chair bit (reminiscent of the bell ringing in It’s a Wonderful Life) was endearing. Mick is comes off as charming as you describe him.
Where the book goes awry is in the latter part of the story which includes an unbelievable, over the top suspense plot. Further, the content restrictions placed on the book by Nascar is a bit hypocritical. As I read this book, I’ve discovered that cheating and spousal abuse are fine but crashes are not. Foreplay and afterglow are okay but bedroom door must stay closed during the act.
Overlooking those issues, the romance is sweet and there is enough technical racing talk to please a hardcore Nascar fan. B-