No Holding Back
A book about NASCAR, hot men in tight suits, who clearly have no fear. I was happy to read this book, because I know little about NASCAR – even less about the inner workings of a race team – let alone all it takes to put a race together. The only thing I know about NASCAR is that the sport has legions of devoted fans who travel far and wide to watch their favorite drivers race.
There were several aspects of this book that I clearly enjoyed. I learned a lot about this sport, and have a whole new respect for what goes on behind the scenes, not to mention the danger involved. The authors are clearly knowledgeable about the sport, and weave in that knowledge seamlessly and believably in this book. Unfortunately, the book is flawed by a major pacing problem that strikes about mid-way through, as well as secondary characters who eventually interested me more than the leads.
Cade Garrison is from a long line of race car drivers who have set the precedent for winning big and winning often. Cade is no superman though; he has to struggle and his legendary temper has landed him in some highly public, and highly embarrassing, situations. His family is not happy with him, the sponsors are staying clear of him.The only attention he attracts is from many adoring women drawn to his good looks, and his fans, who enjoy the drama he brings to the sport.
Isabel Turner is a driven, determined woman working in a man’s world. She got her position in public relations because of her uncle and whispers of nepotism follow her wherever she goes. Isabel counters the whispers by working overtime to prove her worth. I admired her for her strength. When we first meet Isabel, she is still preoccupied with Cade and memories of their one night together months before. She is convinced he could be a real champion, but she stays away from him because she represents competing racers.
They meet up several months later, and the sparks immediately start flying again. Cade realizes that Isabel is a very special woman, one who does strange things to his heart. Isabel’s yearning for him intensifies. Of course, it is only a matter of time before they get together. Despite the potential business conflicts, they decide to see each other in secret, and have some semblance of a relationship. Naturally, a secret relationship becomes nearly impossible. Their feelings grow for each other, feelings they want to express publicly, but can’t for fear of the repercussions.
I loved the first part of the book. The fact that Cade and Isabel had to maintain a secret relationship made the story even better for me. But – and there is a tremendously large but here – the book suffers dreadfully from a sagging middle, which left me bored, really bored. I wanted to see more of a romance, and not just between the sheets. Since the romance had become so tepid, I actually found myself wanting to see more racing.
Also an issue is that I noticed my interest transferred to Cade’s older brother Bryan, a racing legend in his own right, who was forced to retire because of an accident, and Rachel, his funny, smart-mouthed, no-nonsense sister. As the story progressed, I wanted to read more about them than the main characters. When writing a series it is important to introduce the characters who will be the subjects of the later books. Ms. Allison and Ms. Etherington did a fantastic job there. But this book is about Cade and Rachel, and they did not hold my attention for long. Still, I am so intrigued by Bryan and Rachel that I will definitely check out the upcoming books.
On the one hand, the NASCAR storyline worked for me, as did the mysterious, brooding, handsom, tortured Bryan. On the other, though, the book’s sagging middle and lead characters who did not hold my interest counter those positives. In the end…an average read.