I love NASCAR (go Junior!) and have already a few (very few) romances with stock car racing as a setting. Most recently, I read Race to the Altar by Patricia Hagan, which I thought was pretty bad, and Kiss Me Once, Kiss Me Twice by Kimberly Raye, and I didn’t like that one either. So I wasn’t expecting too much from Pamela Britton’s Dangerous Curves. To my surprise, it turned out to be pretty good, although not without some problems.
FBI agent Cecilia (Cece) Blackwell is not happy when she’s pulled off her latest assignment and sent to North Carolina to investigate an explosion that took place at a NASCAR race. I mean, there are crashes at almost every race, but one was no ordinary crash. The car exploded before it hit the wall, and explosive residue was found in the wreckage. The car’s owner then received a note from someone boasting about the explosion. The FBI fears that the explosion may be the work of terrorists, and Cece is an explosives expert.
Blain Sanders owns the car that exploded, and the incident threatens to ruin him. Not only was his driver and best friend killed, but the resultant bad publicity caused his sponsor to pull out and the NASCAR brass are considering barring him from further racing until the FBI catches whoever was behind the incident. Blain has worked hard for years to get his team to where they are now, and he faces the end of his dreams.
Blain and Cece knew each other when they were in high school together and their relationship was prickly. Cece comes in with a chip on her shoulder, but she soon softens up around Blain. Blain is no longer the cocky kid she knew, and as they talk, they realize that they both misunderstood each other back then. As the investigation goes forward, Cece faces discrimination from a know-it- all FBI chief in North Carolina, and she and Blain begin to fall in love. Then Blain and his team are attacked again, and the attacks escalate to a dangerous level.
Dangerous Curves has a couple of great characters in Cece and Blain. Cece is smart and driven – a woman with drive and ambition who does not suffer fools gladly. She is not feisty, smart aleck, nor a caricature of a man-eating feminist. Cece is devoted to her career, and because of that does not want to get involved with Blain. Her partner was killed a few years ago, and his death devastated his family. Cece thinks if she marries, her husband would be just as devastated if anything happened to her, so she has sworn not to become emotionally involved with anyone. But she can’t deny that she is falling hard for Blain.
Blain is a genuinely nice guy. I thought he was a good example of a gamma hero: not a controlling ultra macho alpha, but more forceful than a beta. He even cries at one point when it seems he may lose his team. I really liked Blain, and he and Cece definitely had chemistry between them – they made a great couple. Incidentally, this is the first romance I have read where the hero is the race team owner. In all the others, he’s been a driver or ex- driver.
The big problem I had with the book was the villain, who, quite frankly, was way over the top. I also had trouble with the actions of the racing officials. They want to throw Blain out because his car was the target of a bomber, but when the bomber attacks an (empty) motor speedway they let the race go on the next week? Inexplicable.
However, I did like Dangerous Curves and can recommend it. Even if you are not a fan of racing, and have no idea who Richard Petty is, if you enjoy reading a romance featuring a couple with chemistry, I think you’ll like this one.