It looks like the editors in romance novel land have taken notice of the popularity of NASCAR, and it’s about time I say. It’s only February and already this year, I’ve read three romances with ties to NASCAR: Pamela Britton’s Dangerous Curves, Janet Evanovich’s Metro Girl, and now Roxanne St. Claire’s Killer Curves. Killer Curves is the best of the bunch. This book has a mystery, family secrets, and even some racing. It delves deeper into the racing culture than most other racing romances I have read, but it never loses sight of the love story.
Celeste Bennett comes from the bluest of blue blood society. Her mother Elise is gracious and lovely, and her father Gavin is a distinguished banker who is about to run for the Senate. But their perfect life is all a lie. When NASCAR driver Garrett “Beau” Lansing comes into her life, Celeste’s worst fears come true. Beau knows the secret she has kept since she was fourteen – her real father is Travis Chastaine, the owner of the Beau’s NASCAR team.
Travis’s kidneys have failed and Beau, who looks on him as a second father, has traced Celeste. He’s come to ask her to donate a kidney to Travis, but Celeste is not inclined to do so. She knows that Travis took money to leave her mother, and she is not inclined to forgive him. However, when she comes across Gavin having slutty sex with one of his campaign workers, she goes to Beau and tells him she will work for Chastaine undercover so she can see what kind of man Travis really is.
Team Chastaine is having problems. Their main sponsor is threatening to pull out, and the fans boo Beau at every opportunity since they blame him (unfairly) for causing a wreck that killed a popular driver. When Celeste comes to work, she finds Travis blunt, gruff and not exactly lovable, and she’s not all that enamored of Beau either. But time and close quarters give her a chance to observe them and she begins to change her opinion. Then Olivia, the wife of the sponsor who’s about to drop Team Chastaine, is murdered. Circumstances suggest that Celeste was the real target.
I liked Celeste very much. She’s never had much in the way of love since Gavin treated her coldly and mentally abused her mother. Celeste has filled her life with society work and been engaged three times, but she always felt like an outsider both at home and in her work. Celeste is cautious, and isn’t about to run into Beau’s arms nor immediately forgive Travis. She takes things slowly, and to her surprise finds that not only is she quite at home being a sponsor liaison for Chastaine Motorsports, she also enjoys the races.
I was very pleased that Beau is not a stereotypical good-ol-boy. In fact, his background is almost as upper-crust as Celeste’s. Beau’s father was a surgeon who loved to race and repair cars as a hobby and passed his love of racing to his son. When Beau’s father was killed by a drunk driver, Travis came to his rescue and took him under his wing. They make a wonderful team, even winning the Winston Cup championship. In his past, Beau went though a pretty wild period, but an almost tragedy caused him to rethink his behavior. He says he does not want a commitment, but his words are hollow. Beau is looking for someone to settle down with, and to his surprise, the oh-so-elegant Celeste looks like the one.
I’d love to have seen more about the relationship between Travis and Celeste’s mother. We get some backstory, but their relationship remains sketchy. They make very good supporting characters, but I’d have liked it even better had they been more prominent. The remainder of the supporting characters are just that – supporting. They aren’t fully developed, but they are not cardboard either. Instead they serve to smoothly move the story along
You don’t have to be a gearhead or even like racing to enjoy Killer Curves. The love story is a good one and Beau and Celeste are certainly likeable characters. But if you do love NASCAR, you’ll be very pleased with how the author has caught the sight, sound and ambiance of the racing world. I enjoyed this book very much and hope we see more romances set in the NASCAR world.