At Any Cost: Driven/Lady's Choice [NOOK Book]


Driven by Mandy Hubbard

Being NASCAR's only female mechanic isn't good enough—Mia Connors wants to make Sanford Racing shine. Too bad the charming hunk she just met works for a rival team! NASCAR jackman Seth Richman may act like a no-strings kind of guy, but the attraction between them says something else. Mia's come too far to put her career at risk. Will she have to choose between her dream job and the man ...

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At Any Cost: Driven/Lady's Choice

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Driven by Mandy Hubbard

Being NASCAR's only female mechanic isn't good enough—Mia Connors wants to make Sanford Racing shine. Too bad the charming hunk she just met works for a rival team! NASCAR jackman Seth Richman may act like a no-strings kind of guy, but the attraction between them says something else. Mia's come too far to put her career at risk. Will she have to choose between her dream job and the man of her dreams?

Lady's Choice by Marisa Carroll

The racing world's biggest female sensation, Kelsey Kendall, can't wait for the day she's a NASCAR champion. Nothing can stop this ambitious driver…until an injury lands her in the healing hands of Dr. Matt Abrams. Matt isn't sure he's ready to risk his heart again, but Kelsey's already working her own healing magic on the sexy surgeon. Can she follow her destiny straight to the finish line—with the man she loves?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426856204
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Series: Harlequin NASCAR Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 682,762
  • File size: 484 KB

Read an Excerpt

Mia Connors sank into the cracked vinyl seat in the last available booth at Maudie's Down Home Diner. It was only noon, but her feet were throbbing from six hours at work. A month into her first full season as a full-time mechanic at Sanford Racing and the sixty-hour, six-day work weeks were already taking their toll.

Not that she had any intention of slowing down; just the opposite, in fact. It seemed every eye in North Carolina was staring at her. Being the only female mechanic in all of NASCAR made her infamous. The only way to prove herself was to work harder than any other mechanic. She couldn't just be good; she had to be great.

Right now, all she wanted was a great burger. She'd been at the shop since 6:00 a.m., and had already done an engine swap for Trey Sanford's Martinsville car and new suspension on his Texas car, among other things. Though the diner was filled with the clanging of forks and plates, Mia was convinced she could hear the ZZzzZZ sound of an air gun echoing in her ears. Sometimes, she swore she heard it as she fell asleep.

And yet despite the often bone-tired feeling as she fell into bed each night, she wouldn't give it up for the world. Everything she'd worked for was coming to fruition. Her dreams were now reality. And she was loving every frenzied minute of it.

Mia rubbed her eyes and flipped open the menu, staring down at a long list of gourmet burgers. Over the past few months, she'd gleefully tried them all. Nothing beat Mau-die's burgers.

Her selection made, she slapped the menu shut and looked for her waitress. The girl was rushing by with a pot of coffee, so Mia just smiled and pushed the menu to the edge of the table as the girl scurried past. Every seat in the place was filled; Maudie's was a hot spot for the race teams in the area. It was a 1950s' style diner with classic black-and-white checkered floor, red vinyl booths and a wraparound countertop with swiveling barstools.

Mia wondered what it looked like on weekends, when much of the team was away at the tracks. Judging by the bevy of team jackets and shop shirts, it was probably half-empty.

The door chimed, and Mia glanced up to see a tall, auburn-haired man enter, nearly filling the frame of the door. He must have been six-five, maybe six-six. He was wearing the unmistakable blue-and-white jacket of Kent Grosso's racing team, the Smoothtone Music label splashed across the chest. Even through the thick jacket, Mia could tell the man was muscular.

And familiar. She knew she'd seen him a time or two. He went over the wall, didn't he? Seems she'd seen him wearing a helmet. Was he a tire carrier? Maybe a gas man.

Mia narrowed her eyes and tried to put her finger on what she'd seen him doing. There were so many teams, so many people. She was just too focused on her team's car to notice them half the time.

"I'll be right with you," the waitress said to Mia, interrupting her thoughts.

Mia blinked. Had she been staring at him? Oh God, she had. He was walking this way now. She shrank down into the booth, obscuring the Sanford Racing logo on the front of her blue-and-yellow shop shirt.

Before she could sink far enough to disappear, he stopped in front of her booth. Up close, he had reddish-brown stubble lining his jaw and gorgeous, expressive brown eyes.

"Mind if I sit? Seems this is the last empty seat."

"Oh, uh—" Mia glanced around. He was right, of course. "Sure. Go for it."

"Thanks, Mia." He grinned at her, flashing a row of bright white teeth. Yes, she'd seen that smile before, on pit road. If only she had a name to go with it.

Mia sat up in the booth again. "How'd you know my name?"

He raised a brow. "I'd be surprised if there was a guy on pit road who didn't know it," he said.

Mia felt her face heat up. Something about the way he said it—the way he looked at her—made the room seem far too warm.

"I'm Seth, by the way. Jackman for the No. 414 car."

Mia reached a hand out to grasp his. She wasn't embarrassed by the fact it was callused, or by the grease under her nails. If he didn't like it—and most guys didn't—that was his problem. "Nice to meet you."

He nodded, shaking her hand with a firm grasp.

"Do you need my menu?" she asked, eager to turn their attention to something neutral.

He waved it away. "Nah, I always get the same thing. Hawaiian Burger with fries."

Mia nodded. "Good choice."

The waitress returned then, and Seth and Mia ordered. Mellie, her nametag read. She looked to be close to Mia's age, maybe twenty years old. She was pretty: slender, with her black hair cut in a near-pixie cut. The woman scribbled their orders on a tattered notepad, then took their menu. After Mellie walked away, Seth turned his attention to Mia. His warm brown eyes stared straight at her, and she had to force herself to stare straight back.

"What?" she said, when she couldn't take his stare any longer. What was with this guy? He waltzed in, sat down and then seemed to enjoy making her squirm.

Seth's lips curled into a slow, easy smile. "Nothing. Just wondering how a girl like you," he said, pausing and letting his eyes dip for just one moment, "ends up as a mechanic."

Mia's cheeks warmed again as she sat back against the booth. Flustered, she fingered the spot where a small pearl pendant used to lie, then realized too late it wasn't there. Jewelry was dangerous in the shop, so she never wore it anymore. In fact, she hadn't worn it in over a year, since she'd started working for Sanford. By letting all those frivolous things slide, she fit in at the shop. It worked. And it was a small price to pay. In fact, she hadn't even thought about it in weeks.

So why did Seth, just five minutes after meeting him, make her think about it?

Mia let her hands drop to her lap and nervously clasped them. She chewed her lip and tried to come up with a suitable answer to his question. People asked her about her chosen career all the time. Every day, in fact.

"Because I can," she said, staring straight into Seth's eyes, challenging him to disagree.

Seth nodded, slowly, studying Mia as if he could read between the lines if he looked long enough. He took a sip of the glass of water the waitress had set down in front of them. Every move he made was comfortable, self-assured. He wasn't the slightest bit affected by lunch with a perfect stranger. "You're not bothered being one of the only women in NASCAR who works under the hood?"

Mia raised an eyebrow and gave him a cocky smile. This was one question she enjoyed answering. Truth be told, she sort of liked the uneasy way guys seemed to take having her wrenching on the cars. It gave her an odd sense of power, as if she were in control. "No. It's not my fault the other girls would rather play with credit cards and manicures than oil pans and spark plugs. Their loss."

Mia crossed her arms, waiting for Seth to respond, waiting to see if he could handle the fact that he'd never talk her out of her chosen career. "Why? Feeling a little threatened?"

Seth pursed his lips, as if fighting a smile, but failed miserably. "I've decided I like you after all," he announced.

"After all?" Before she could stop herself, Mia snorted. "You like me in spite of my career?"

Seth set his glass down and leaned forward until he was halfway across the table. "I like you because of your career. Takes a secure woman to work in a shop full of guys. Although I'm sure there's more to you than cars, of course," he added. "There's certainly more to me than that."

"Oh really," Mia said, uncrossing her arms and leaning forward until their faces were just an inch apart. She was eager to turn the attention toward him. "Enlighten me."

Seth sat up and pondered his answer, staring at the ceiling with his mouth screwed to the side, tapping on his chin as if it took great thought. "Well, I enjoy baking. I make legendary coconut macaroons."

"Really?" Mia said, the surprise evident in her voice.

"No," he said, grinning. "I'm a terrible cook. I burn frozen pizza."

"Oh," Mia said with a laugh.

"But I am excellent at ordering takeout."

"A valuable skill." Mia picked up a fork and used it to start picking at her napkin. If she looked at him any longer, she was going to lean straight over and kiss him. He was just that alluring. Every time he smiled at her, it got a little harder to breathe.

"It is. Did you know that on Tuesdays, tacos are two for one at Miguel's?"

Mia smirked, still staring at the fork. "I had no clue."

"And the paper prints a twenty-percent-off coupon for Happy Teriyaki every Wednesday."


Seth sighed. "Okay, I can see you're not impressed."

Mia looked up from the table. Seth's expression was one of exaggerated defeat. Was he always this playful? "Whatever gave you that idea?"

"Probably your smirk."

Mia tried to force a neutral expression, but she couldn't keep her lips from twitching.

Seth tapped his fingers on the table and looked around, as if taking in the various team jackets. An easy silence settled over the table.

"So what's it like working at the Sanford shop?" Seth asked.

"Oh, uh-uh. I'm not giving away any secrets. Especially not to a Grosso team member."

"I'm not a spy, I swear," he said, his expression one of embellished innocence. With his eyes wide like they were, Mia could see golden flecks that caught the light.

"That's exactly what a spy would say." Mia leaned in, narrowing her eyes, feigning complete seriousness. "Who sent you?"

"You have a point." Seth crossed his arms, considering this. "Okay, I admit it." He leaned in across the table and motioned for Mia to come closer. She leaned toward him, until his lips were near her temple, almost brushing her ear. Then he whispered, "It was the muffin man."

Mia rolled her eyes and sat up, but she couldn't keep her lips from twitching.

So Seth was funny.

And really, really attractive. His smile was just the tiniest bit crooked when he was trying not to laugh, which gave him a sort of rugged quality. But when he grinned widely, it became flawless, all sparkling white teeth.

A few minutes later, Mellie arrived with their burgers. Had they been talking that long already? A glance at the clock revealed it had been ten minutes since he'd sat down. Talking to Seth proved to be just like working on an engine: totally engrossing.

Mia reached for the ketchup bottle just as Seth grabbed it, brushing his fingertips. Seth popped the top off and handed it to her.

"Ladies first."

Mia nodded and took the bottle, trying not to look overly pleased. Sure, she wanted to be treated just like any other guy in NASCAR. But yet she couldn't deny that she liked the way Seth looked at her—as if somehow, even through the standard-issue Sanford Racing shirt and loose-fitting shop pants, he found her sexy.

Mia hadn't felt like that in almost two years, since she'd started wearing those boring black shoes and loose-fitting shop slacks. Sure, she was a tomboy even in high school, but she still managed to wear jeans that fit well, still tried to keep the dirt out from under her nails.

But she refused to be a distraction at the shop, so she did everything she could to blend in. And that meant going unnoticed.

Yet Seth was looking at her as if he did notice her, and it was warming her from the inside out, making her feel as if the shop uniform were invisible.

Ten minutes later, when Seth licked his lips, Mia had to stop herself from doing the same thing. They'd been laughing and joking nonstop as they were eating, and she'd caught herself leaning in toward him time and again. He was charismatic, she'd give him that. And when he started talking about his team, his eyes took on a light that made her wish the conversation would never end. He was driven. Anyone could see it.

When Mellie came by with the tab, Seth handed the waitress a twenty before Mia could blink.

"You didn't have to—"

"I want to," he said, smiling and waving her away, as if it was nothing.

"Thank you." Mia grabbed her jacket from the seat and stood up to put it on. Seth reached over and unfolded the crumpled collar, and Mia froze as his skin touched hers. His fingers brushed against her for a moment, but it was enough to make the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

She smiled at him, hoping he didn't see her shiver as a chill raced down her spine, and walked toward the door, Seth trailing after her.

Halfway to the door, she heard someone say goodbye to him as he walked by. If the woman's looks were anything like her voice, she was sultry, sexy…

Mia shook her head. They were at a café popular with racing teams. And Seth was a single, attractive guy. It wasn't as if he were invisible. Of course he had friends. Even those of the female variety.

Outside, it was still a little cool. Spring would be here soon. Mia looked forward to it, and the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. She was one of the B-team mechanics for Trey Sanford, traveling with the team, working on his car in the garage. She didn't touch it on the track, but maybe, if she worked hard enough, long enough, she'd be an A-team member within a few seasons. For now, she was absorbing everything she could, learning more at every race. She'd see most of the country before the final event in Homestead this coming fall. Texas, California, New York… She couldn't wait to drink it all in.

Last year, she'd arrived in NASCAR, and there was only one way to go from here: up. To the top, to the A team, to being the best.

"So, where are we going on our second date?" Seth asked, as they headed into the parking lot.

Mia froze, one foot in the gravel lot, one still on the concrete walkway. "Oh, I mean, you seem nice, but—"

"Already seeing someone?" Seth stopped in front of her, fishing his car keys out of his pocket.

"Well, no, it's just, I'm trying to focus on my career right now. I have a lot to prove." Mia wanted to cringe just saying the words out loud, no matter how true it was. "I mean, you knew who I was, just because I'm the girl mechanic. People are watching me, you know?"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    At Any Cost Harlequin NASCAR Library NASCAR: Hidden Legacies Boo

    At Any Cost
    Harlequin NASCAR Library
    NASCAR: Hidden Legacies Book 18
    Driven by Mandy Hubbard
    Mia Connors, sister to Cassie from No Holds Barred, has worked hard for her position as a mechanic on the Sanford Racing team, the only female mechanic. When handsome Seth Richards walks into her life she can’t believe he would really want her. Being on different teams and their drivers fierce rivals makes it even tougher to give in. Mia either needs to open herself up or she’s going to sabotage her chance for happiness.

    Lady’s Choice by Marisa Carroll
    Kelsey Kendall is driving NASCAR Sprint for the first year and she wants to win. After meeting the handsome doctor in the care center, thanks to a crash, she can’t get him out of her mind….or dreams. Dr. Matt Abrams is attracted to the beautiful driver but she seems so focused on her job. Just like his ex-fiance Lisa was. He is determined to fight what he feels for Kelsey fearing she may be another woman with a one track mind. 

    Hilton Branch continues to write in his journal. He has been keeping another very big secret from the world. A secret that affects even more lives beyond his family and business. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2010

    IF A NASCAR FAN.....

    If you are a big nascar fan like me you will love this book. Its all the mushy gushy stuff you love in a romance noval but you also get that feeling that not only are you in the book with the characters, but you are also in what could be a nascar car, pit road or who knows what else might happen. This is a book that you won't want to put down.

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    Posted September 9, 2010

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted June 26, 2010

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    Posted June 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2010

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