ON THE EDGE:   reviews | excerpt | order
To the Limit

HQN Books
September 2006
NASCAR Series Book III

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Unknown NASCAR driver Adam Drake has some of the best moves Rebecca Newman has ever seen, both on and off the track.

But she can't afford to feel anything but respect for the new driver she's hired to pilot her race car. With the financial security of her team hanging in the balance and everyone in the series thinking she's nuts, the last thing she needs is lust getting in the way of logic. Too bad Adam has other ideas.

Adam isn't afraid of a challenge, but getting close to his new owner is proving to be a tougher road than some of the speedways he's driven. It's going to take a secret weapon--his daughter. Soon his precocious twelve-year-old has Rebecca on the run--straight into Adam's arms. It's a place he's determined to convince her to stay, because he knows what they have is special, and the chance to win Rebecca's heart just might be the most important race of his life...and hers.

reviews

"ON THE EDGE follows IN THE GROOVE in a unique marriage between NASCAR and Harlequin's HQN Imprint, and introduces us to racing in a spectacular way. I suggest everyone who can brave a book that will require at least two tissues hurry out, not race, and buy ON THE EDGE." - Carolyn Crisher, Romance Reviews Today

"This story provides a fascinating look at NASCAR racing, with all of the excitement and tension, along with an interesting look at the behind-the-scenes preparations." - Susan Mobley, Romantic Times Magazine

"This is a fun NASCAR racing contemporary romance that readers will enjoy from the moment that Lindsey starts the engines of her father and Becca." - Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews

"Enjoy the thrill ride of ON THE EDGE!" - Heather Hiestand, Four Hearts

"If you are looking for a back-to-school break after you see the kids off, pick up the delightful new NASCAR novel by Pamela Britton." - Dawn Myers, Writers Unlimited

"On THE EDGE is a read I highly recommend to anyone looking for a great contemporary romance." - Wendy Keel, The Romance Reader Connection

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excerpt

“Where is he?”

“Where’s who?” Cece Sanders asked, tipping her head back to peer up at Rebecca. They sat on top of pit road wall, a clipboard with two built in stopwatches across the top resting in Cece's lap, a pen in her right hand. Becca thought she looked like part of the race team with her Sanders’ Racing baseball cap and white shirt, her blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. Out on the track, last year’s runner up for the ARCA title did his best to impress Blain Sanders, Cece’s husband. And, of course, her, but much to Rebecca’s chagrin, she hardly paid attention. ote

“You’re waiting for him, aren’t you?”

Becca shrugged, wishing she had a clipboard and stopwatch so she could pretend interest in something else. Alas, she'd decided to let Cece keep the records that day.

"You are, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Rebecca admitted with a sigh.

Becca saw Cece bite back a smile before she turned away, her eyes kept in shadow thanks to the bill of her cap. A second later a blurry streak of red, white and blue crossed the start/finish line—a race truck Sander’s Racing had built just for this tryout roaring around the track. She should be listening to the conversation between driver and crew: seeing how well the kid who drove articulated his truck’s performance, or if he sounded flustered or laid back. Heck, seeing if he could talk and drive at all. Some drivers couldn’t, or just didn’t, and that was okay—but only to a point, because in the end it was a team effort that won you races and you couldn’t have a team if there was no communication. So at the very least she should have a receiver plugged into one ear—like Cece did. She should, but she didn’t. Instead she glanced toward the infield, scanning the cars that were parked between the garage and a nearby outbuilding, all the while wondering for the umpteenth time where he was.

“That was a good lap,” Cece said as the truck raced toward turn one. “Good enough to qualify fifth or so at last year’s Craftsman truck race. Not that you care.” When Cece looked back the teasing smile was still in place.

Rebecca looked away, her gaze catching on the crew members who stood a little further down the wall, a square, green canopy over the tops of their head casting a Martian-like glow over their faces. Behind them, and a bit further down pit road, a tent had been erected, the ten or so drivers they had left to see standing or sitting in folded chairs, each of them pretending to ignore the other. A few of them had family members with them, but for the most part it was a solemn group.

Becca’s gaze moved back to the pit crew. Blain Sanders pressed down on his headset, his lips moving as he spoke into the mic.

“What’s Blain saying?” Rebecca asked, trying to change the subject.

Cece huffed, the sound part snort, part chuckle. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Cece—”

“Admit it. You have the hots for that little girl’s daddy.”

“I do not,” Rebecca said. “Now stop. You’re stressing me out.”

“Well here’s something to add to that stress then. I just saw a truck exit the infield tunnel—“

“What? Where?” she asked, turning and peering through the twelve-foot high, black, wrought-iron fence that Becca always thought looked a bit out of place at a race track.

“Right there,” Cece said, pointing.

Becca turned. Sure enough, a truck headed toward the garage, the familiar white pickup looking as beaten and battered as the first day she’d seen it sitting out in front of her house.

Adam.

Tingles spread through her body causing the ends of her fingers to vibrate.

He was here.

“You want to go greet him?” Cece asked with a teasing grin.

No,” Rebecca said, looking away.

“Fine. I will.”

“Cece—”

“Here,” Cece said, shoving the clipboard and pen in her direction, the cord that dangled from her ear swinging around. “I’m dying to meet the man, anyway.”

“But, Cece—”

“See you in a few.” And then her smile turned positively wicked. “With your boyfriend in tow.”

"He’s not—“

But Cece was already gone, trotting off with a quick wave and a smile. Rebecca flatly refused to watch her walk away.

"Drat that woman.” She should have never told her about her encounter with Adam Drake and his daughter. She should have told her friend that she’d heard about his driving through the grapevine. She should have just added his name to his list without any fanfare. But, no, she’d shot off her mouth and—

The race truck roared around turn three.

“Crap,” Rebecca said, fumbling with the clipboard in time to record the elapsed seconds on one digital clock and then immediately starting up the second. They had electronic timers on all the cars, but Cece liked to do it the old fashioned way, too, just in case.

Concentrate, Rebecca. Don’t glance behind you. Don’t. Just focus on what you’re here to do.

So when she was done recording the lap time she forced herself to study the pages beneath the top score card. Of the drivers set to drive today, eight had already gone, leaving twelve to go, one of them Adam Drake. Rebecca grimaced inwardly at the name. Four of the drivers had been pretty dismal, at least judging by their lap times and Cece’s sprawled notes. Three had been average. Only one looked good and that was the driver currently out on the track, one Sam Kennison, Rebecca saw, flipping back to the top page and studying the kid’s STATS. Twenty. Cute, judging by the photos they’d taken earlier with his blonde hair and blue eyes. And personable, judging by the Q&A they’d had him fill out. Gone were the days when all that mattered was a driver’s ability. Now it was all about marketing and sex appeal.

Adam Drake had sex appeal in spades.

“Hello, Ms. Newman.”

The clipboard slipped from her hand. Rebecca lurched and caught it, the metal back jamming against one of her long fingernails and causing her to gasp. When she straightened she knew her face glowed as brightly as overheated brake pads.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine," she said. It didn’t help matters that Cece stood behind Adam,ote her hand covering her mouth, her eyes laughing loudly even if her mouth did not.

“And I'm glad to see you made it,” Rebecca added.

“I did,” he said, giving her a smile that exposed wonderfully masculine teeth.

Masculine teeth? What the heck was that—

“Sorry I was late. I got a little lost on the way out.”

“Where’s Lindsey?”

“Still grounded after that little stunt last month.”

“Oh. Too bad. I was looking forward to seeing her.” She sounded too fake. Too chipper. Too….

Okay, just admit it. Too smitten.

It didn’t help that Cece had stopped laughing. She began to move her hands, mimicking sign language from Austin Powers. You complete me, she pantomimed.

Stop it, Becca warned with her eyes.

But Cece didn’t stop anything and so after a glance at Adam (who was busy looking at the truck on the track—thank god), Becca lifted a fisted hand and narrowed her eyes for good measure. She managed to drop her hand just in time for Adam not to notice. She hoped.

“Here,” Rebecca said, shoving the timing board and pen back at Cece. “You can have this back. I’ll go introduce Adam to Blain.”

“Oh, great. I’ll go with you,” Cece said, having to shout over the sudden roar of the truck as it came down pit road. All three of them paused as Cece prepared to record the lap time, but the truck was coasting.

“I guess he’s done,” Cece said as the engine abruptly shut off. He rolled down pit road and into his pit stall.

“Who is that?” Adam asked.

“Sam Kennison,” Cece answered, falling into step with them, Adam in the middle. Adam didn’t see it, but Cece leaned back, lifting her eyebrows in a, “He’s cute,” kind of way.

“Kennison. Kennison. Is that Carl Kennison’s kid?”

“It is,” Cece said. “Do you know him?” she asked as the truck finally came to a stop.

“I’ve bumped into him on a track or two.”

“Well, that’s him waiting to help Sammy out of the truck,” Cece said.

Becca followed Cece’s and Adam’s gaze, watching as an older man with gray hair and a middle as big as a Bridgestone tire rushed forward. They arrived on pit road just in time to watch him lower the net, taking the steering wheel, the driver’s helmet and then the HANS device a second later.

“Outstanding,” he was saying to his son as they walked up, placing the helmet and HANS on the roof, his face flushed with pride. When the driver emerged, Becca ran her eyes over him, thinking the kid didn’t look a thing like old man. And he really did look like a kid, Rebecca noted. No five o’clock shadow in sight. Holy crawdad.

She felt old.

“You kicked ass out there, son,” Carl said, clapping Sammy on the back of his off-white firesuit with Addeco Insurance sewn onto the front.

Carl turned back to Blain, Cece husband who stood nearby. “Told you the kid could drive. He’s a chip off the block. Give him a couple years and he’ll be vying for a Cup championship.” Carl’s eyes swept the group of people surrounding Blain, passing by Adam only to return again with such swiftness it was looked like magnets had drawn them back.

“Holy shit,” he said to Adam. “What the hell are you doing here?”

A quick glance at Adam revealed shoulders suddenly stiff with tension. Not surprising. It wasn’t so much what Kennison had said, but the way he’d said it. As if Adam had no business being in Concord.

“Actually, Mr. Kennison, Adam’s here to test,” Becca said.

Silence. Nobody spoke. “You’re kidding, right?” the man asked, his eyes going from her’s to Adam’s. "I didn't see his name on the list."

“A late addition,” Cece said. “We’ve heard some great things about his driving.”

“We have?” Blain asked.

Cece gave her husband a look, one that years of marriage had perfected. It said: Don’t contradict me, oaf.

Blain said, “Oh, yeah. We have.”

Which almost made Becca laugh except she was too tense to do anything more than nod in agreement.

Carl glanced back at his son, motioning him forward. “Sammy, come here and meet the man who cost me the Tennessee Speedway year-end championship.”

Ah. That explained it.

Adam stepped forward, a pleasant smile on his face. “Aw, now, Carl. You’re not still grumbling about that, are you?”

Carl’s eyes narrowed, his ruddy cheeks turning redder. He’s very much grumbling, Becca thought. Grumbling as loud as Mt. St. Helens before it erupted. But a glance at his son must have reminded him this was neither the time nor the place to rehash the past.

“Nah,” the older man said. “I figured we were even when I introduced your wife to John Garreth.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Becca saw his son and Adam stiffen the son saying, “Dad…”

“They sure hit it off, didn’t they?” Carl added.

Okay, that did it.

Becca stepped forward and with as pleasant a smile as she could muster, said, “Thanks for coming today, Sam. Mr. Kennison,” she said, giving the older man a look that was as cold as nitrous oxide. “It was a pleasure to meet you. We’ll be in touch as to whether or not you’ve made the cut for tomorrow’s testing.”

Blain and Cece exchanged glances. They usually sat down and chatted with the drivers after their session, letting them know if they might have a shot at day two’s test—a full day of media training, photo shoots and television taping.

It was apparent Carl Kennison expected that very thing because he looked as if he’d just been insulted. “Don’t you want to talk to my boy?”

“No,” Becca answered, cutting off whatever Blain had been about to say. “We have a lot of other drivers to see today, including Mr. Drake here. We’ll call you.”

Which was not the norm, but she didn’t care. She turned her back on the man, saying to Adam. “If you want to suit up, the bathrooms are open at the end of the garage. You’re in the last group to go, so you have a bit of a wait.”

But Adam still stared at Sam’s father, and Becca could tell he wanted to say something more—probably something insulting.

She stopped him by turning and then pretending to almost collide with Mr. Kennison. “Oh, Mr. Kennison,” she said pointedly. “You’re still here. I’m sorry. I thought you’d left.” She turned to the crew members standing near the wall. “Boys, put a fresh set of tires on it and take her back to stock. We need to get a move on or else we’ll be here all night.”

Finally, Mr. Kennison seemed to get the message, though she could tell his son knew exactly what had caused their abrupt expulsion from pit road. She could hear the kid all but growling in his father’s ears as they walked away, Sam shrugging out of the top portion of his firesuit and tying it around his waist. Becca smiled to herself.

“You mind telling me what that was all about?” came a low, slightly oteirritated voice.

Becca glanced up, Adam having leaned so close to her head that their lips almost touched when she turned.

She stopped breathing for a moment.

“What do you mean?” she managed to gasp, catching Cece’s amused eyes behind him.

Adam must have followed her gaze because he turned to Cece and Blain and said, “Excuse us a second,” before hooking his arm with hers and marching—yes, marching—her away.

Uh oh.

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