Vicki Lewis Thompson, Nancy Warren, Dorien Kelly
Racing Hearts: A Calculated Risk\An Outside Chance\This Time Around
Harlequin. February 9, 2010. ISBN 9780373837403. 320 pages
Genre & Keywords: Contemporary, NASCAR, Anthology, Valentine’s Day
Rating: êê½ -êêê
Heat level: ½
I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review.
The Back Blurb:
She's plotted the course
Car chief Roni Kenway has a plan. She'll save her racing team and (hopefully) convince her crew chief, Judd Timmons, that she's the perfect mix of business and pleasure. But will she coast down Victory Lane…or crash into the wall?
She's in Daytona
Haunted by a sadistic book about last-chance love, Lucy Vanderwal hopes a trip to Daytona will end with love. But when she discovers her "last chance" guy is a lemon, Lucy meets rookie driver Sawyer Patton…and learns even a late starter can be a winner!
And she's behind the wheel!
Driver Megan Carter just got back from a dream vacation—sun, sand and a sizzling fling with Chris Donahue. Now all she needs is to prove herself on the race track. But how can she do that when Chris turns up in her garage—in her real life—and says he's there to stay?
I’ve read this book for the Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge 2010.
As you can see above when you look at the heat level of this anthology, Racing Hearts is not my usual read. It’s way less sexually explicit than a lot of the other books I review. This is more of a sweet and cute kind of romance anthology. From the three authors Vicki Lewis Thompson, Nancy Warren and Dorien Kelly, I’ve read some Blaze novels from the first two before and did enjoy those pretty much. Anyone who has ever read a Blaze knows that in those stories love scenes never take place behind closed doors. Sex scenes are fairly explicit and erotic in Blazes. Not so much in this anthology. Ms. Thompson and Ms. Warren can’t be accused of showing any naked body parts, except for an occasional man titty maybe, but it may have been that the bare chest was part of Ms. Kelly’s story, I’m not sure.
Anyway, this collection of three stories wasn't bad, it was pretty okay. Some parts I did like better than others. It's always difficult to rate an anthology, since the different stories are somewhat divers. These three stories do have a few things in common though. First of all they’re all taking place in the setting of the NASCAR races, in Daytona. And second they have the time of the year in common: Valentine’s Day and the opening week of racing season. But every story is a stand-alone read, they don’t share (sub)characters or anything else. Every author brings her own vibe to the story, and has her own writing style. Therefore I’ll talk about each story separately.
A Calculated Risk by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Roni is one of the guys because of her occupation as car chief of a racing team. She has the hots for her crew chief Judd for over a year now. But he doesn’t see her as a woman, she thinks. Only he does so, and thinks she’s attractive, but doesn’t want to date a team member because of the complications a fall out could cause. Besides, Judd is having a conflict with the race car driver of their team, who happens to be Roni’s friend. This conflict is causing a lot of trouble for the team because of the distrust that comes along with it. And Roni tries to mediate. At the same moment as she has decided to dress more feminine and wear make-up to get Judd’s attention. Of course, she was sweet to try to mediate in the conflict and Judd appreciates that a lot. And he starts to notice her kind personality where he first mainly saw her attractiveness and professional skills. What I don’t understand though is how he gets from not willing to date a team member to being okay with it. That's because ‘A Calculated Risk’ is overly well plotted but with little attention for inner conflicts or feelings between H/h. I would have liked to see a bit more of that and I don’t mean a sentence like “Liquid heat poured through her” (p. 100) - only because the guy cups her face in his hands... But the story did give a nice view behind the scenes of a NASCAR team.
An Outside Chance by Nancy Warren
Lucy and Sawyer are quite a cute couple. She’s a funny, happy, average looking girl and he’s a young and hot race car driver. They meet because Lucy sucker punches him by accident in the stomach while he’s jogging. She came to Daytona for a blind date that she met at a NASCAR fan website. And the blind date turned out to be a complete loser. Lucy and Sawyer’s unusual meeting leads to a cup of coffee and a tour on the racing tracks. Sawyer discovers that Lucy can make him forget about his nerves for the race because of her well-natured, light-hearted chitchat and personality. And he wants to keep her around. Luckily for them there’s also a physical heat between them – of which we don’t see much, mind you – plus Sawyer’s family really likes Lucy. I totally hoped that he would see that she was the one for him.
What almost threw me off was a thought Sawyer had about Lucy being on a blind date with someone she met on the internet: “Maybe she had an older brother. But if so what was the guy thinking letting her go on this crazy stunt?” (p 136-137). I couldn’t believe this old-fashioned way of thinking. Luckily, Sawyer turns out to be pretty okay and his eyes open quickly about Lucy. She had me laughing a few times with him, although one time my laugh wasn’t accompanied by his and had more of a mocking undertone. This was when she thinks their first kiss, a mere brushing of the lips, is exceptional: “she’d never experienced a kiss that left her quite so breathless” (p 171). Sorry, I think that’s ridiculous in 2010. But oddly enough it didn’t make me enjoy this story less.
This Time Around by Dorien Kelly
I didn’t know this author’s work like that from the others, but Ms. Kelly’s story turned out to be pretty enjoying. It’s the least old-fashioned of the three, the heroine is the race car driver here and the guy is travelling all over the world for her. Chris wants to see Megan again after they met on the island where he lives and runs a successful celebrity restaurant, and where they spent a few hot weeks together before she left him because of her career. In order to be with her again Chris has not only to hope that she wants to see him, but also has to face up to his stepbrothers and father who turned out to be Megan’s boss. The family complications were worked out very nicely, first they caused some troubles for the couple and in the end everything is peaches again. Imo the father is turning a little quickly from a really big jerk to a peace loving father, but alas he’s not that important. Chris and Megan are and the two of them have nice little conversations, cute loving moments and Chris has an adorable bonding thing going on with Megan’s twin brother.
Overall, this is a sweet collection and if you like to read about NASCAR drivers and mechanics this is certainly a nice anthology. If you like your romance a little spicier or emotional and your coupling more worked out and insightful, these stories might not do it for you.