Summary (from Goodreads):
Four years ago, race car driver Tracey Bradshaw almost died in a horrific crash. Now scarred inside and out, she’s making a comeback, but her team is plagued by a series of “accidents.”
When the team leader dies under mysterious circumstances, former driver Mac Reynolds takes charge. The pair clash as Trace resents his high-handed attempts to control her, while Mac fears Trace’s recklessness will get her killed. Neither can throttle back the desire that spins out of control whenever they touch. Trace lets herself be seduced when Mac convinces her he finds her beautiful despite her scars, and she begins to hope for more. But Mac knows he’s not nearly good enough for Trace…
(Note: This book is free through May 31, so I wanted to put up a review while the deal’s still good. You can download from the publisher’s website or your regular online bookstore of choice.)
I’m generally not a huge fan of romantic suspense. I haven’t done much reading in the genre, but my general impression from reviews (read online and passed on by friends) seems too much like Law & Order with interludes for sexytimes. I generally autopass on the subgenre. But Dangerous Race is free for the month of May, the premise seemed interesting, and the first few pages were promising. So I downloaded it.
You guys. I enjoyed this books so much that I blew my book budget immediately downloading Danger Zone (about a dyslexic lady stuntwoman and a billionaire racing empire owner) and Dangerously Close (about a reclusive rock star and woman who’s just lost most of her sight in an accident) as soon as I was done. The Adrenaline Highs series reads like the perfect blend of contemporary romance (read: fun and sexy), action (read: car accidents on and off the track), and mystery (read: killer on the loose). All the feelings.
I lovelovelove that the heroine is a female racecar driver! Trace is smart and funny and tough, but she’s also stubborn and vulnerable–especially when it comes to sex (she has a nasty scar on her thigh from having her thighbone replaced with a titanium rod after her racing accident and her fiance left her because of it). I like Mac. He’s a tough alpha male (like all romance heroes, unfortunately) but he’s never recovered from his own racing accident years earlier, which gives him some believable emotional depth.
While reading, I got kind of annoyed with Trace’s insecurity about her scar. She was convinced that it made her unlovable (spoiler: not true). But when I thought about it after finishing the book, her fear makes perfect sense in context. I’m familiar with cognitive dissonance re: body image and self-consciousness, and her inability to see herself as attractive despite ample evidence to the contrary is totally realistic.
There’s also a nice secondary plot and romance between Trace’s twin sister, Chelsea, who found out about Trace through their mother’s deathbed confession. The sisters build a relationship with each other and Chelsea connects with Trace’s best friend, Matt, as they try to figure out who’s trying to kill Trace and make sure that Trace wins her big race. A few of these threads didn’t feel totally resolved by the end, but it didn’t detract from the overall story.
The suspense element was done well. It didn’t weigh down the story with its seriousness, but provided enough believably scary action to balance the romance aspects of the story. I figured out the villain’s identity almost immediately, but that didn’t detract from the overall story. One of the nice things about romance as a genre is that the general shape of the ending is pretty predictable; the way the author gets the characters to that ending is the interesting part.
In summary: recommended for romance readers who aren’t generally suspense fans as well as action/suspense fans who aren’t opposed to plenty of sex scenes (two fairly spicy romances develop simultaneously).
Rating (Spiciness, Not Quality)
3/4 chili peppers (0 being sex-free, 5 being erotica)