Crossing the Line [NOOK Book]


Grace Winters is the racing world's best-kept secret. And now the secret's out. The up-and-coming chef hopes her newfound celebrity as author of a NASCAR-themed cookbook will give her the financial security she craves. Falling for handsome, much-too-charming playboy Garrett Clark is just a recipe for disaster.

The only home Garrett knows is behind the wheel of a race car, and now he's on track to win a coveted championship. Falling for a hardworking mother of three isn't part of...

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Crossing the Line

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Grace Winters is the racing world's best-kept secret. And now the secret's out. The up-and-coming chef hopes her newfound celebrity as author of a NASCAR-themed cookbook will give her the financial security she craves. Falling for handsome, much-too-charming playboy Garrett Clark is just a recipe for disaster.

The only home Garrett knows is behind the wheel of a race car, and now he's on track to win a coveted championship. Falling for a hardworking mother of three isn't part of his freewheeling bachelor plans, but how's he supposed to resist the tempting package Grace is offering—a home, a family, the whole nine yards? That's before a shocking revelation stuns the NASCAR world and promises to transform Garrett's and Grace's lives forever….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426851803
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Series: Harlequin NASCAR Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 223,802
  • File size: 319 KB

Meet the Author

Jean Brashear would rather read a good book than eat. (Unless we're talking chocolate, in which case her question would be "Why do I need to choose just one?") Her children grew up knowing the difference between the "Mm-huh" nod that meant she was still deep in the story and being the clear focus of actual attention. They grew adept at an early age at snapping fingers and developing just the right tone to say "Mom?" -- edgy enough to suggest possible admonition without generating a full-blown dash for 911.

But she'd never seriously considered that she could write a book until her last child was in high school. With no training or experience past high school English, it was quite a leap to assume she could -- but from the very first effort, rough as it was, Jean received encouragement about her raw talent. She made the bold statement to her family and friends that she wouldn't allow herself to give up for at least five years -- but she admits that when she said it, she was certain five weeks was ample time, or five months at most, to sell a book...did she ever have a surprise in store as she learned about the publishing business!

But she kept to her word (as much as anything out of fear of so much crow to eat if she wimped out); she wrote and wrote, submitted and submitted, endured the rejections so familiar to most writers -- but just over two years later, she sold her first book.

She's been finalist for and won numerous awards, and she often kicks herself that she waited so long to figure out what to be when she grew up -- but all in all, she's just happy to have found her way, late-bloomer or not. She figures she's a living example that it's never too late to do something crazy.

She treasures hearing from her readers. Contact her via her web site at:
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Read an Excerpt


As Grace Winters concentrated on rolling out pastry for her famous pecan tassies, her middle child Millie's soft voice didn't register at first. Grace had a pastry chef now, but Sarah had disappeared. The celebrity luncheon Gourmet by Grace was catering would begin in two hours; there was no time to waste.

"What, sweetie?" She didn't normally take her children on the job, but since their father's untimely death in an accident two years ago, Millie was still fragile. Grace felt better if they were with family when they couldn't be with her. Today was a school holiday, and her father had a doctor's appointment. Her sister, Hope, was due to pick them up anytime.

"Grace, can you come here?" shouted one of the line cooks.

"Just a second, honey." Grace placed one hand on six-year-old Millie's head. "Can it wait, Al?"

"Only if you don't care that the fish guy didn't deliver enough salmon."

Grace squeezed her eyes shut. "Where's Barbini?" Her new executive chef was already a godsend, but the staff and suppliers still had a bad habit of consulting her first.

"I'm here, Grace," said a quiet, deep voice. "I'm on it."

"Thank you." Barbini's steadiness was the polar opposite of her partner—make that ex-partner—and brother-in-law Tony. Grace still had anxious moments remembering when he'd held a gun on her in the confrontation when he'd admitted to killing team owner Alan Cargill—and embezzling from her, to boot. While she'd been stretched thin and sleeping barely four hours a night trying to shore up the company's bottom line, Tony had been skimming money even faster. Finding out he'd committed a murder, as well…she still couldn't absorb it. Tony was in jail and unlikely to leave, and she was trying to pick up the pieces.

"Mom!" called out her son, Matthew. "Bella just wrote all over my drawing!"

Dear heaven, if Hope didn't show up soon to pick up the kids, she didn't know what she'd do.

"I'm coming!" She grasped Millie's hand and walked quickly through the mayhem of the kitchen in full throttle. "Where's Sarah?" she asked Al. "She should be mixing the filling already."

"Dunno." He shrugged, extending the phone toward Barbini. "Haven't seen her in a while."


"Just a second, honey. You're okay, right?" Grace scanned Millie, the child who'd taken Todd's death the hardest, for signs of injury. "You're not hurt?"

Millie's hair, mink-brown like Todd's, swung as she shook her head.

Relieved that Millie was not, as often happened, hiding in the closet, Grace towed her along as she went in search of her other two. "Good. Sweetheart, Aunt Hope will be here very soon. If you can just wait a second until I see what Bella—"

"But I know where Sarah is, Mommy."

Grace whirled. "You do? Where?"

Millie nodded and pointed toward the utility closet about fifteen feet away.

"Why would Sarah be in the closet?"

Millie ducked her head and dug one toe of her shoe into the floor, mumbling.

"Honey," Grace said, kneeling before her child and gently lifting her chin, "I need you to speak up."

"Kissing," Millie said softly. "She's kissing a man."

"When we have an event in two hours?" Grace shot to her feet, forgetting how they were aching. In a few long strides, she reached the door. Surely even Sarah wouldn't—

Grace wrenched the door open, and two people tumbled out. "Grace, I…" Sarah brushed at her tousled hair and made a futile attempt to straighten her clothes.

Sarah was an airhead in real life but a dream in the kitchen. Grace had hoped to groom her to move up, but she had just reached her limit in tolerating Sarah's irresponsible behavior. "Get back to work," she said, her jaw locked tight enough to crack teeth. "You and I will talk later."

Sarah skittered past, and Grace focused for the first time on the amused brown eyes of the too-handsome man in front of her, his own dark hair tumbling over his forehead as it often did in the posters that many a female NASCAR fan had up on her wall.

"You," she said flatly. "What are you doing in my kitchen?" She didn't know Garrett Clark well, but it was impossible not to know of him if you had anything to do with NASCAR. Even if her dad hadn't been a former crew chief, with a NASCAR-themed cookbook due to debut at Daytona and being the caterer of choice for the teams, she had more than a little involvement in the sport.

The driver of the No. 402 FastMax Racing car was, in her opinion, the worst of the worst, a born maverick who cared about nothing but racing and left a trail of broken hearts behind him at every track.

"Something smells real good in here. Mind if I have a taste?" He grinned at her as if nothing had happened. As though he had the right to just stroll in wherever he wanted.

"You'll get your taste at the luncheon. Get out of my kitchen." She turned away, then back. "And leave my staff alone."

"Hey, she dragged me in there." He lifted his palms and looked cat-in-cream cool. "What's a red-blooded guy to do?"

"You—" Suddenly all that was wrong in her life rolled over her like an avalanche, and she was drowning in responsibilities and worries and loneliness and—

Grace felt her vision narrowing, her knees growing weak. She could hear Millie whimper, and she reached out for her poor, suffering child, but she couldn't seem to touch her and the room was spinning and…

The last thing she heard was shouting.

Garrett Clark had never appreciated his fast reflexes more than when he managed to catch the curvaceous blonde before she hit the floor.

Once he had her in his arms, though, all hell broke loose. The little girl was wailing, the cupcake who'd lured him into the closet was shrieking and somebody dropped a huge pan with a clang.

Then a tornado of a boy, dark and unsmiling, tore through the gathering crowd. "What did you do to my mom?"

A driver had to be able to keep a cool head under any kind of pressure, and Garrett was better at that than most. "Call nine-one-one," he barked at one of the staff. "Your mom just fainted," he said to the boy. I hope. He felt for a pulse at her throat, relieved to discover one, even if it seemed too fast to him.

"See to your sister," he ordered, nodding at the little girl who'd discovered him in the closet with the cupcake. "She's scared." Then he lowered his voice a notch and addressed the girl directly. "She's going to be okay, honey." Though he actually had no idea if that were the case. For all he knew, the blonde had stroked out, she'd been so furious.

He returned his attention to the woman in his arms. "Grace." They'd never exactly been introduced, but it was hard to be around NASCAR these days and not know who she was. "Come on, babe. Wake up." There were shadows beneath her eyes, and though she possessed impressive curves, he could feel her ribs beneath his hand. She looked worn-out.

Then EMS was there, and he gratefully relinquished custody.

"I suggest you leave now," said a man in chef's garb.

The guy's tone got Garrett's back up. "I'll leave when I'm ready." Though he had no idea why he would want to stay. He was due for a meeting with his crew chief, and it wasn't going to be pretty. The pressures of this season, three races from the end, were getting to everyone.

Which was why the respite of a few minutes flirting with the pretty Sarah had been appealing.

The man's eyes narrowed. "Have you had a look at those kids? Their father is gone, their mother is working herself half to death, and their uncle held her at gunpoint, then confessed to murder as well as to stealing her money. Now the only parent they have left collapsed in front of them, all because you have no self-discipline."

You have no self-discipline, Garrett, his stepfather and team owner had accused him just last night. You go off half-cocked, so damn sure you're right. You're going to cost us the championship.

Stung, Garrett opened his mouth to fire back, but just then, he caught sight of Grace's daughter standing just behind the paramedics, grungy stuffed rabbit clasped tightly in her arms, her brown eyes wide with terror.

He knew nothing about raising kids, but he knew a lot about being small and scared. He took a step toward her, just as the man's arm shot out to block him. Before he could brush it aside, a distraught young woman reached the little girl.

"Millie, come with me, sweetheart."

"Aunt Hope, Mom collapsed. Is she—" The boy who'd raced to his mother's rescue so fiercely looked anything but fierce now.

"She's in the best of hands, sweetheart," the woman assured him. "Where's Bella?"

Garrett watched as the younger woman gathered up Grace's children and followed the gurney outside. Grace was lying too still, and he found himself wanting to follow.

"All right, everyone," said the man by his side. "We can't help Grace by screwing up this luncheon. Back to work."

The gathered crowd scurried off to their stations, but the chef was obviously waiting for Garrett to leave.

Their uncle held her at gunpoint, then confessed to murder Holy crap. Tony Winters. The news was all over NASCAR that deceased team owner Alan Cargill's murderer had been caught at last. "I'm sorry, man. I didn't think about the connection. Were they close?"

The chef snorted. "She trusted him, he was her partner, and he was stealing from her to pay gambling debts. You tell me."

Wow. No wonder the woman was so stressed out. "I'm going to the hospital." He might not know Grace personally, but basic decency required that he not simply walk away.

"Just leave her alone. She's got more than she can handle already." The man glowered. "And she's not one of your bimbos." He shot a glare at cupcake Sarah.

Garrett would have laughed at the very notion—no one could be further from his type than a mother of three—but laughter was very much out of place in this situation. And popping this jerk in the mouth would not endear him to anyone, his team owner, his crew chief or NASCAR. This close to the end of the season, he could only afford a laser focus on one thing: racing. Andrew Clark had bet all the marbles on Garrett winning the championship, and if he screwed up, he could take the entire FastMax Racing organization down with him.

He'd never dreamed that a chivalrous impulse to escort the girl he'd met in a club last night to her job this morning could go so awry. He'd only been blowing off steam at the club as a way to deal with the mounting pressures, but he'd never intended to hurt anyone.

"I've got a meeting." Before he could get himself in trouble and jeopardize everything, Garrett forced himself not to respond to the man's insult but simply to walk away.

He'd check on her, this woman he'd wronged, however unintentionally, to be sure she was okay.

Then he'd put her out of his mind and focus on the only thing that could matter right now: proving that a dark horse, a maverick who didn't play the game, could beat the better-funded, fat-cat teams like the Grossos and Sanfords who were heavily favored to win.

He had to put it all on the line for one thing and one thing only: giving the man who'd believed in him, who'd kept him when his own mother had moved on, the championship Andrew Clark had waited years to claim.

"Hope, I don't have time for this," Grace said from the sofa where four-year-old Bella was tenderly, if awkwardly, tucking an afghan around her neck. "I have bills to pay and a proposal to write for the Mason wedding, plus Matthew's end-of-season soccer party is in two weeks."

"The doctor said you should rest," her sister replied as she walked in from the kitchen. "One evening won't kill you."

"You have no idea—" Just then, the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it! I bet it's Grandpop!" cried Bella. She raced to the front door.

The front door wasn't visible from Grace's perch on the sofa, but Grace was surprised that her father had rung the bell. Or that he'd come to the front, for that matter. Her house was generally filled with the chaos of her children and their friends, her siblings and assorted dates or spouses, her friends and neighbors—no one she knew ever did more than a perfunctory knock on the kitchen door off the driveway before walking inside. Coming from a large mixed family of step and half siblings, with a husband whose family had grown up next door to her own childhood home, Grace did not stand on ceremony. People just had to get used to seeing her in her bathrobe or pj's if they came at the wrong time.

"Daddy? Come on in. Tell Hope to go away," Grace called out.

"Don't you dare, Daddy," said Hope, drying her hands on a dish towel.

Both fell silent as Bella returned, beaming as she held the hand of someone much younger than Dan Hunt, displaying him as though he were a great prize she'd been given. "Look, Mommy. Flowers!"

Garrett Clark. Possibly the last person on earth Grace wanted to see right now.

Just then, Matthew skidded into the room. "What are you doing here?" His face was his father's at Todd's most intimidating, revealing the man this skinny eight-year-old would become.

"Matthew," Grace snapped. "Mind your manners. Mr. Clark is a guest in our home," she said more gently. "For the moment," she continued, a warning in her tone. Manners were manners, whatever she might feel about Garrett Clark.

"But it's his fault—"

"It is." There was no lazy laughter in the brown eyes now. "But I wanted to come see for myself that your mother's okay now," Garrett said. "First, though, is Millie here?"

Grace's eyes went wide, but Matthew spoke first. "What do you want with my sister?" He turned to Bella. "Why are you holding his hand?"

"He's pretty," said Bella simply.

Grace heard Hope snort behind her and had a hard time resisting chuckling herself. Bella had an affection for anything she considered pretty. She was a girlie-girl who'd subject anyone not fast enough with an excuse to endless hours of trying clothes on dolls or putting on pretend makeup or playing dress-up.

"I came to apologize." Garrett's expression was somewhere between embarrassed and appalled. "Anyway, guys can't be pretty."

Grace thought a lot of people would be amused by Mr. Charming and Cocky being so off-kilter. She decided to spare him and threw off the afghan, then rose.

"Whoa, there," Garrett said. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Crossing The Line by Jean Brashear Harlequin NASCAR Library NASC

    Crossing The Line by Jean Brashear
    Harlequin NASCAR Library
    NASCAR: Hidden Legacies Book 16
    Grace Hunt Winters has been through a dark time but has come through it. A widow with three small children to raise and yet she started her own business. Catering for the NASCAR elite and even her own TV show. What she doesn’t need is the attention that a playboy driver is giving her. And yet something inside her wants to let loose if even for a little while. 

    Garrett Clark is thankful for his step-dad and is doing his best to win the championship to save their business. To win for the the man who believes in him and loves him more than his own mother ever did. He never planned on his own family but something about Grace and her three children pulls on something inside of him. Makes him a better man.

    The finale to this sixteen book series was excellent. Full of emotions and characters who came to life and pulls the reader into the story. When the last part of the mystery is solved and they find Gina Grosso, who was kidnapped thirty years earlier, the author does an excellent job of expressing how this young woman feels. She has a family she has known and loved for all this time and a new family who are strangers to her.

    All of the books in the Harlequin NASCAR Library are worth reading and have many of the same characters in them. There are more books that follow and continue with characters the reader has already been introduced to in the previous books. 

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