DANGEROUS CURVES:   extras | reviews | excerpt | order
To the Limit

HQN Books
February 2005
NASCAR Series Book I

order

 

Special Agent Cecelia Blackwell is smart, savvy and knows her way around a race car.

Heading up a team to investigate the murder of a NASCAR driver is right up her alley. The only problem is NASCAR star Blain Sanders, the man who requested her. Blain is well-heeled, well connected and drop-dead gorgeous-and he knew Cece when she was a drag-racing tomboy with grease under her nails.

But Cece has grown up since then, in all the right places. And while catching the killer is her main objective, she's not above making the man who ignored her as a teenager squirm a little.

Two people on a surefire collision course. But Cece and Blain are about to discover that the sweetest victory does not always come from winning, it might just come from love.

reviews

"This fast-paced book will keep you guessing until you reach the last page. I was enthralled with the characters in these pages. Ms. Britton creates situations for her characters that are fascinating and hilarious. I was kept guessing until the very end, even as I rooted for Lea to catch the bad guy. Way to go, Ms. Britton" - Coffee Time Romance

"WOW! The tension and sexual excitement in this novel is as hot and smoking as racecar tires on take off. I kept setting this novel in my to be read pile because I am not a huge race fan. Was I ever wrong! I started this novel one night and it was midnight before I stopped for the night. I was captivated from the first page and could not find a place to stop. Pamela Britton has done a terrific job. Dangerous Curves is a very clever title. Cece has dangerous curves and so does the racetrack. I enjoyed this novel very much. It is creative and fun." - Dawn Myers, Writers Unlimited Reviewer

"In Pamela Britton’s first Romantic Suspense, Dangerous Curves, her legion of fans will be genuinely pleased with this humorous 'page-turner." - A Romance Review

"DANGEROUS CURVES is definitely one book you will not want to miss. With an amazing plot and wonderful characters, this book will have you feeling as if you are right there with them." - The Romance Reader Connection

"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." - All About Romance

"Snappy dialogue, steamy interludes and some twists make this a fast-paced ride for romance and racing fans." - RT BOOKclub

"DANGEROUS CURVES is a fast-paced police procedural romance that stars two wonderful protagonists whose romance has a bumpy detoured path. The investigation is cleverly handled and shares lead theme with the romance and the insightful look at a racing car team. Cece is handled brilliantly throughout but especially when she suffers a traumatic injury while Blain is more of a surprise as he seems so confident and sure of himself yet (read the book) Pamela Britton provides her audience with an exciting spin." - The Best Reviews

top

excerpt

She was five-foot-six of Spandex wrapped, thigh-high boots, bustier-clad woman. And she wasn't happy.

dcShoving open the door of her boss's office, Cece Blackwell had to fight not to yell the words, "What do you mean I'm assigned the NASCAR case?"

The glare of fluorescent lights arched perfectly off her boss's prematurely bald head as he turned to face her, black brows--the color his hair should have been, if he'd had any--lifted off light gray eyes.

"I can't believe you'd do this to me," she added, placing her hands on her leather-clad waist, Cece so screaming mad she felt ready to lob her Carmine Miranda red earrings at him. Or maybe her matching bracelets. Yeah. They'd be easier to slip off.

"I won't do it," she huffed. "I won't." And, darn, if she didn't feel like stomping her feet like her three-year-old niece.

Bob's chubby-cheeked face remained blank. It was one thing she despised about him. No, envied, this ability he had to remain unruffled no matter what the circumstances. He was like one of those mimes you saw in the park, able to keep a straight face even as some dog doo-dooed on his leg. The talent was helped by the fact that he had wrinkle-free skin near impossible to glean the age of. Cece supposed Mother Nature had blessed him with such a complexion as a way of making up for the no hair thing.

But instead of addressing her concerns, Bob eyed her up and down. “You been working that organized crime ring?" he asked in his Bronx accent. "That’s why you dressed like that?”

“You know I was,” she said, referring to the Rent-Me-By-The-Hour outfit she wore: rhinestone-studded black bustier, Band-aid wide leather skirt and the pièce de résistance, black thigh-high boots.

“The operative word being was, Bob,” she gritted out between Screaming Red lips. “Was because they called me off the streets and told me I'd be working a new case, one that you know I have no desire to work. So tell me it isn’t true, Bob, in which case I’ll go change out of this hoochie wear because if you tell me it is true, I quit.”

"It’s true," he said.

“I quit,” she said, turning on a stiletto heel and jerking open the door.

“Cece, wait.”

“Talk to the hand, Bob, cause the ears aren’t listening.”

“Damn it, Cece, you don’t stop, you’re fired.”

She whirled to face him, hand falling off the handle. “I’m fired? I’m fired,” she raged, stabbing at herself with her finger, one of her fake Press On nails popping off and arcing through the hair like a boomerang. “You’ve got some nerve, you know that, Bob? You know about my past with the owner of that race team. You know every damn detail. And yet you’re still assigning me this case? That'd be like—" she searched for the right words. "That'd be like me assigning you to work with your ex-wife." Bob winced. "I won't do it."

"You have to," he said, his face stern.

Her eyes narrowed. "No, I don't."

"This ain't no multiple choice, Cece. We need your expertise with explosives."

"Oh, yeah? Just like you needed my expertise working that organized crime ring? I’ve spent four weeks dressed like this. Four weeks and I’m this close to finding out the name of the guy who sold Mantos those explosives. You want me to walk away from that? I don’t think so. Find someone else with the expertise."

"They want you."

Cece tottered over to Bob's desk, not caring that her breasts all but fell out as she leaned over the papers strewn on it. "Look, Bob, I've had a really bad day. Some man offered me a hundred bucks if I'd let him sniff my underwear. Another asked me to do a threesome. An evangelist talked my ear off for an hour because he was convinced he could save my soul. To say I'm in no mood for this would be an understatement. My feet hurt, I have a rub spot on the back of my knee and I'm convinced a bird pooped in my hair, only, see, I can't tell because makeup decided to turn my hair into their version of the Burning Bush, sans the flames, although there's so much hair spray in this mess," she pointed at her teased and cemented blonde hair, "I could give Michael Jackson a run for his money." She leaned even closer, her bonded hair not budging an inch. "Don't do this to me."

“It’d just be for a few days.”

dc“This close to busting Mantos,” she repeated, making tweezers out of her scarlet red nails.

"Just think about it."

"Okay," she said straightening, looking up to the ceiling and tapping a red nail on her chin as if contemplating the color of a toupee for Bob. "Thought about it," she said, piercing him with a glare. "No."

Bob flung himself back in his chair, tossing a Snappy Lube pencil onto his desk. "You're impossible."

"Yeah, well, that's why we work so well together," she turned toward the door.

"I could force you.

"Don't bother," she called over her shoulder.

"I'm your boss," he added.

"Then act like it and tell upper management I said no."

A wolf-whistle greeted her as she entered the 'bull pen', a maze of cubicles that housed the junior agents.

"Bite me," she said to no one in particular as she slammed Bob's office door with enough force to rattle the side-light window. She jabbed her spiked heels into the business-brown carpet as she stormed off to her office in another corner of the mostly glass high-rise.

Damn Bob. Of all the dumb, fool things to ask her.

She jerked open the door of her office before slamming it closed. For a long second she just seethed as she stared out the window.

Blain Sanders. A name from a past. A man who'd been responsible for more humiliating teenage memories than she cared to admit. Even now she felt the sting of a blush as she recalled some of her more embarrassing moments—trying to get an after school job at the same place as he did, only to have him call her a stalker, slipping that ridiculous note in his locker that was supposed to be anonymous, only to have Billy Richards see her do it. And then, their senior year, she'd tried to get even with him by building a car that was faster than his. Only she'd succeeded at that, but then her dad died and her whole world had come crashing down.

Cece bent down to grab some spare clothes from a filing cabinet drawer, trying to forget the memories. They were better off in the past.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't Cecilia Blackwell."

She froze, her hands on some sweats, thinking maybe, just maybe, the voice had been part of a hair spray induced hallucination because it was impossible for the day to get any worse then it'd already had.

Famous last words.

"I see you're dressing different."

But only one person called her by her full name like that, the syllables clipped out like the snap of 9mm. She closed her eyes for a sec before opening them again to slowly turn and face the door.

Ten long years and a forgotten high-school crush faced her.

Blain Sanders.

Terrific. Perfect timing.

"Well, well, well," she mimicked, "If it isn't the home town hero." And she used her coolest I'm-an-F.B.I. agent-even-if-I'm-dressed-like-a-call-girl voice. She hadn't survived a year of co-ed training to blush when caught wearing next to nothing. Besides, he didn't seem to care, merely met her gaze directly.

"You're looking good," he said and she knew he was being sarcastic 'cause there was no way, no how that Blain Sanders found her attractive.

"Gee, thanks," she answered, her mind screaming a different answer.

Get out.

Damn it. She'd fantasized about this moment, about meeting him again, but always in a chic black suit, black pumps and her hair pulled back in a smooth chignon. Instead she wore fishnet stockings-fishnets, for goodness sake--next to no clothes and a head of hair big enough to be spotted by the Space Shuttle while he...he looked like he stepped from the pages of People Magazine.

She eyed him up and down in an impartial I'm-no-longer-affected-by-him way. Rain colored eyes still looked just as striking against a fringe of long, dark lashes. Strong jaw. Wide shoulders and a body that hadn't gained an ounce of fat in the ten years she'd gone up two sizes.

"Nice outfit," he said. It was the same voice as before, only...different. This voice dripped Southern like a jar of maple syrup, not surprising since he'd spent the last ten years of his life working the stock car circuit. Blain—California born and bred—had apparently adopted red neck ways.

"You always dress like that?"

What the heck do you think? she almost snapped. Instead she flicked her Be a Bimbo Barbie hair and said, "Well, the dress code is pretty lax around here. I do what I can to be comfortable."

He lifted a brow. She placed her hands on her hips, giving him a stance ala Wonder Woman right down to the conical breasts.

"Of course I don't dress this way," she gritted out. "I was doing a gig on the east side. Undercover."

"The F.B.I. lets you walk around that way?"

"Didn't some one tell you?" she snapped. "I'm not really F.B.I.. Got the badge and gun out of a gumball machine. I was hoping for the Scooby Doo necklace, but I guess it just wasn't my day."

His eyes darted to hers again. For half a heartbeat she thought she saw something drift through his silver gaze--interest, maybe--but she had to be seeing things. Blain Sanders. Mr. Celebrity. Mr. I Can Have Any Woman I Want. Mr. What's Your Name Again Sweetheart so I Can Sign Your Junior High Yearbook would not be noticing her. It used to drive her crazy when she'd had that huge crush on him because nothing, but nothing she said or did—and, oh boy, had she done some things—ever made him remember her name, much less show interest in her.

Nah. Imagining things.

"If you're here to tell me that you don't want me on the case," she said, "you're wasting your breath. I don't want it, either."

He crossed his arms in front of him, his pecs beneath his shirt bulging like a beach-bound muscle man. "Actually, I came her to tell you that it was me who wanted you on the case."

###

Blain watched her blonde brows lift, her startling green eyes—eyes he'd forgotten the color until that very moment; anti-freeze green he'd used to tease—growing wide. She really did look ridiculous in that getup, or so he told himself because he did not, as a rule, find women in thigh-high boots attractive.

"Why the heck would you do that?" she snapped, the red hoop earrings she wore swinging with each jerk of her angry jaw, the boots she wore squeaking as she shifted on her feet.

He shrugged, his eyes darting over the office. Wall of glass behind her, the California fog he didn't miss much creeping through the streets. Bachelor of Arts Degree on the wall to his left. No pictures on the opposite one to his right. Not even those 'love your fellow coworker' posters. Nothing but bare walls, a low shelf, and a C.D. player behind her black and gray desk conspicuously devoid of files and clutter. Man, she didn't even have one of those little stuffed toys most women hung on their monitor. Typical Cece Blackwell. She was about as feminine as a case of motor oil.

dc"Hell-ooo," she reminded him of her presence. As if he could forget.

"You're the best person for the job," he said.

"Well, you can just un-request me."

His eyes swung back to hers. "No," he surprised himself by saying, surprised because the whole trip from North Carolina he'd told himself he'd made a mistake in insisting she be assigned the case. He must be more shook up over Randy's death than he thought because requesting Cece Blackwell work the case when all he had were some half-baked rumor about her success as an F.B.I agent was pure craziness. And yet here he was.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"I mean it was me who requested you," he admitted.

She'd changed, he thought to himself, unable to stop himself from scanning her up and down. She looked like a woman. Granted, not the type of woman he'd be attracted to, but a woman nonetheless.

And that kind of perplexed him. She'd grown breasts since he'd last seen her.

"Excuse me, Blain, but I must have misunderstood you because I could have sworn you just said 'it was me who requested you' which doesn't make any sense because that would mean you were willing to work with me, something I know from experience would be the last thing on Earth you'd want to do, so let's go over this again. Did you or did you not just say that you requested me for this case?"

"I did."

She gave him a look, one he remembered from their youth. It usually meant a shovel full of sand or a sharp-tipped acorn was about to be thrown his way.

"Why in the heck would you do a stupid thing like that?"

"Like I said. You're the best."

"And just how do you know that?" she asked.

His gaze snapped up. "People back home talk."

She smirked, painted red lips compressing. "I haven’t talked to anyone back home since my mom died."

"Not even Mr. Johnson."

She closed her eyes, obviously recognizing the name. Mr. Johnson, ex cop turned P.E. teacher that had taken a shining to Cecelia Blackwell all through high school, especially when she’d chosen to pursue a career in law enforcement. He was also a big race fan, which was how Blain had kept up with Cece’s life—though in an inadvertent way because he wasn’t interested in her.

He looked her up and down again.

Not at all.

“We talk on a regular basis,” Blain admitted.

"I'm going to kill him," she said, and this time he eyed the column of her neck. Her skin looked soft there. Funny. The memories he'd carried of little Cecelia Blackwell were that of a grease-covered kid. One who'd had puppy love dangling from her stray kitten eyes. Not the woman standing before him now. Taller. Long blonde hair. Hourglass figure.

"Why? The old guy’s proud of you. You’re the only former student of his that’s gone any further than the local police department."

And Blain felt grudging respect for that. Most of their former classmates had never left town. Not so, Cece. Like him, she’d struck out on her own. He admired that, no matter how much it irked him to admit it.

“Besides,” he added. “Who cares how I found out? What's important is that I know you'll be straight with me." He clenched his hands, trying to stifle emotions he didn't want her to see. "The president of our association refuses to postpone the next few races because we don't have proof that the wreck that killed my driver was no accident. All I have is a threatening letter. Your bosses seem to think it's probably just a nutcase. NASCAR seems to think the same thing. I'm not so certain."

Blain had to look away for a second, hoping she didn't see how hard he fought for control at the memory of Randy.

Gotta tire going bad.

They were the last words he’d said.

"I heard he was your driver,” Cece said.

"He was." And his best friend. And his business partner.

"Sorry about your loss," she said, crossing her arms in front of her.

Not for Cece the show of sympathy most women would give him: the concerned touch, the sympathetic hug. No. She just tilted her head as she said, "But it still doesn't change the fact that this is a bad idea."

"I'm not going to beg." And he wouldn't, damn it. She owed him this.

"You don't have to. My answer is no."

He straightened and pulled out his trump card. "I'll tell your boss about the felony."

She paled beneath the makeup covering up the freckles he remembered. About the only thing still the same.

"What felony?" she tried to brazen out.

"The one you got when you were seventeen. The one sealed now because you were a minor, but the one I'm sure you didn't tell the F.B.I. about since you were hired by them."

He found himself looking down at her, those wide green eyes. Pretty eyes, he'd always thought, despite the fact that he'd always teased her about them.

"Bastard."

He crossed his arms and shrugged.

"Did it ever occur to you that my successes as a F.B.I. agent might be severely overrated?"

"Yeah." He took another step toward her. A hint something tickled his nose. "You wearing perfume?" he asked in shock.

She tilted her head. "What of it?"

You build that car? he'd asked after she'd roared into the highschool parking lot when they were seventeen.

What of it?

Same response. Same woman.

Or was it?

"Nothing," he answered...the same response he'd given her back then. "And even if Mr. Johnson has exaggerated, I remember the way you found out who keyed your car. You thought I'd done it, but instead you discovered that—"

"Rick Carpenter had done it," she finished.

"Yeah. My point being that the way you discovered who'd done it was pure genius."

"So let me get this straight," she clipped, straightening, one hand held out, palm up. "You decided I'd be perfect for this case based on an idea I got off Columbo?"

"It worked. No one expected you to give a sixty-nine Camero away as bounty, but you did."

She shrugged. "I didn't give it away. I only let someone drive it for a week. The kid offered to buy it afterward and I let him. I'd beaten you enough times that I was through with it anyway."

dcHer words rankled—still, after all these years. Man, but she knew how to push his buttons. Even after he'd left the small town they'd grown up in he'd thought about the way she'd smoked his doors whenever they'd raced. Four championships and numerous awards later and he still couldn't believe she'd built a car that had beaten his. But he shouldn't let it rankle, he reminded himself. It was all the more reason to insist she work the case. No other agent this side of the Mississippi could have the kind of knowledge about race cars as she did. She was a pro. Plus an expert on explosives. He didn't like her, but he respected her for it.

"Look, Cece, I don't know who to trust and you're the closest thing to an ally that I've got."

And for a second the wreck replayed in his mind again. Blain's knuckles ached he clamped his fingers down so hard. "I need some straight answers. You'll give them to me, even if I have to blackmail you to do it."

She stared up at him, and he was surprised at how close he'd gotten. Age had changed her, her realized. Her cheekbones were more prominent. Lips fuller, her mouse blonde hair lighter, too.

"Fine,” she snapped, her green eyes firing like spark plugs. "But don't blame me when it doesn't work out. You've no idea what it's like to work with someone you despise."

It was on the tip of his tongue to say he didn't despise her, but something made him hold back, something that made him feel uncomfortable and on edge at the same time. But then, he always felt that way around Cece Blackwell.

Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble

top