Hearts Under Caution

( 4 )


One minute Lisa Woodrow is a big city prosecutor, and the next she's back home, deep in the fumes of North Carolina racing culture and trying to keep a low profile.

She has no choice. A criminal she helped convict is on the prowl for her, and Wade McClellan, ex-fiancé and best-NASCAR-crew-chief-in-the-business, insists his security is tight and she'll be safer with him.

There's no way Lisa will ever go back to being a "sideline cheerleader," ...

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2007 Mass-market paperback New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 246 p. Harlequin NASCAR. Audience: General/trade.

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One minute Lisa Woodrow is a big city prosecutor, and the next she's back home, deep in the fumes of North Carolina racing culture and trying to keep a low profile.

She has no choice. A criminal she helped convict is on the prowl for her, and Wade McClellan, ex-fiancé and best-NASCAR-crew-chief-in-the-business, insists his security is tight and she'll be safer with him.

There's no way Lisa will ever go back to being a "sideline cheerleader," but this caring, committed Wade hardly seems to be the same man she left behind. Suddenly, staying beneath the radar in North Carolina doesn't seem to be such a bad idea...

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373217687
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Series: Harlequin NASCAR Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.64 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Bestselling and award-winning author, Gina Wilkins, has written more than fifty books for Harlequin and Silhouette. Her novels are sold in more than one hundred countries and are translated into twenty languages.

A lifelong resident of central Arkansas, Ms. Wilkins sold her first book to Harlequin in 1987, and has been writing full time since. She has appeared on the Waldenbooks, B. Dalton and USA Today bestseller lists. She is a four-time recipient of the Maggie Award for Excellence, sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers, and has won several awards from the reviewers of Romantic Times magazine.

Gina Wilkins is a member of Romance Writers of America: the Published Authors Network (PAN) of RWA; and Novelists, Inc., a national organization for multi-published writers of book-length popular fiction. She is a frequent speaker at writers' conferences and civic meetings, but she particularly enjoys speaking in schools, where her emphasis is on literacy, goal-setting and motivation. She credits her successful career in romance to her long, happy marriage and her three "extraordinary" children.

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Read an Excerpt

The moonlit night was still, the late July temperature warm but comfortable as Lisa Woodrow sat on a concrete bench in her mother's North Carolina garden. Heavy perfumes from many varieties of roses tickled her nose and carried her back to her past. As she had so often in those blissfully naive and hopelessly romantic younger days, she found herself thinking of Wade McClellan".

A rustling in a far corner of the large garden brought her abruptly back to the present. Every nerve ending in her body on sudden alert, she sat up straight, straining her ears. When the sound wasn't repeated, she let out the breath she'd been holding and tried to relax, assuring herself that there was nothing to fear here.

She had plenty of reason to be on edge after the events of the past week. It didn't soothe her frazzled nerves to know that Wade was inside her parents'house, meeting with her father and a few other top members of the Woodrow Racing team.

Since team owner Ernest "Woody" Woodrow had undergone a full hip replacement ten days earlier, limiting his movements for a few weeks, the majority of his meetings had taken place here, in his home office.

His highest-ranking team members had arrived right after dinner on this Monday evening to discuss the race week ahead. Wade had been the first of those arrivals.

It had been obvious that he hadn't known Lisa was there, since she'd flown in only a few hours earlier, but he had recovered quickly from his surprise. He'd greeted her with the same polite distance he'd displayed on the few other occasions when they'd crossed paths over the last six years. She'd responded in the same cool manner"and had made her escape at thevery first available opportunity.

It was the first time she'd seen him in over a year. He looked tired, she thought. Too thin. His tanned skin was drawn a little too tightly over the carved planes of his face. His brown eyes were shadowed, the sun-creases at the corners more deeply defined than she remembered. And there was now a touch of gray at the temples of his functionally short, pecan-brown hair.

Yet even as she acknowledged the signs that he hadn't changed his fiercely workaholic habits, her heart pounded so hard in her chest that she'd been afraid he could hear it over her cool, carefully disinterested voice. After almost six years and a whole new life, one would think she'd have gotten over the sight of him by now.

The rustling came again.

It brought Lisa to her feet. Poised for flight, she held her breath, trying to hear over her hammering pulse. She'd thought the sound came from behind her and to the left, but was she wrong? Had it been between her and the safety of the house?

No. Definitely behind her.

Maybe it was a cat, or some other small, nocturnal animal. Maybe nothing but overwrought imagination. She didn't stick around to find out. She bolted, heading straight for the house, making no effort to be quiet.

When she slammed into a solid and unmistakably male body, she reacted on pure instinct, striking out. She opened her mouth to scream.

"Lisa!" Wade's voice cut through her moment of panic, turning the budding shriek into a squeak of surprise. His hands fell on her shoulders, steadying them both and making her realize how close she'd come to flattening him. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

Her breath was still coming out too audibly, a combination of her former fear and now awareness of Wade standing so close to her, holding her. She took a quick step backward, dislodging his hands.

He let his arms fall to his sides, but his too-sharp gaze remained on her face. "What's wrong?" he repeated.

She took a moment to regain control. She could barely see him in the diffused garden lighting, but she knew her own face was more visible to him since there was a pole lamp directly behind him, illuminating her while keeping him in the shadows.

"I thought I heard someone moving around in the garden," she said when she was sure her voice would come out relatively steady. "Watching me."

His head lifted as if he'd just caught scent of a predator. Looking from side to side, he asked, "Where?"

She started to point in the direction she'd thought the noise had come from, but then stopped and shook her head. "I'm not sure. If anyone was there, he'd be gone by now anyway."

"You know it's unlikely anyone was in the garden with you. The property is fully fenced and your dad has top of the line security equipment. It wouldn't be easy for anyone to get in nor to get back out unnoticed."

"Yes, I know." But the hesitancy she heard in her response probably let him know she wasn't entirely reassured. To distract him, she asked, "What are you doing out here? Were you looking for me?"

"Yeah. I was."

Even though she had asked, his answer still surprised her. "Why?"

"I got the impression that something was bothering you. Something more than me being here, I mean. I wanted to see if there's anything I can do."

She supposed she shouldn't be so taken aback that he'd seen too much during their brief interaction earlier. Wade had always read her too well"with a few very painful exceptions. "I'm okay."

"Are you sure? Because you look kind of shaky." What pride she retained after being caught by Wade on the verge of a full-blown panic attack kicked into full force. She lifted her chin. "I'm fine, Wade. I guess I'm just tired. It's my first real vacation in almost three years. I hadn't realized quite how much I needed one. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll head inside, maybe turn in early tonight."


Ignoring the hand he held out to detain her, she stepped around him and moved resolutely toward her parents' house. "Good night, Wade," she said over her shoulder without looking back.

It was no surprise that he didn't respond.

Wade was back the next morning. Lisa hadn't seen him when he arrived, but her mother told her that he was meeting with Woody and the other three Woodrow Racing crew chiefs in Woody's office. Sitting in the solarium before noon, surrounded by her mother's pampered and beloved flowering plants, Lisa merely shrugged when her mother asked her how she felt about Wade being around so much during her visit.

"He isn't usually here at the house," Ellen added a bit anxiously. "You know, your father usually prefers not to do business at home. But since his surgery, it's easier for the meetings to be held here."

"I understand"and it's fine, Mom. I certainly don't want to interfere with Dad's business meetings just because I'm here for a visit. And as for Wade, you know he and I have seen each other several times during the past few years. It's not a problem."

"It can't be comfortable for you, having your exfiancé in the house," Ellen fretted.

Smiling, Lisa shook her head. "It's not a problem," she repeated. "My ex-fiancé still works for my father. It's a given that he and I will run into each other at times. Besides, it isn't as if Wade and I had a bitter breakup. It was all very amicable, remember? We've remained friendly."

She didn't go so far as to say they were still friends. She wasn't sure she and Wade had ever been friends, even when they were lovers. He hadn't let her get to know him that well.

Virginia Cooper, who had been employed by the family since Lisa was barely out of diapers, appeared in the doorway with a smile to announce that lunch was ready. There had been a time when Virginia had only worked a couple of days a week doing the laundry and the heavy cleaning, but since Ellen had taken ill a year ago, she came in every day to cook and run the household.

Ellen had protested at first, but Lisa suspected that she was secretly grateful for the extra help. Now she spent her days caring for her flowers, fussing over her husband and resting quite a bit.

Lisa's steps faltered a little when she saw Wade waiting with her father in the breakfast nook where the informal luncheon was to be served. He gave her a rather stiff nod of greeting.

"Wade and I aren't quite through with our business today," Woody announced gruffly. "He's going to be joining us for lunch and then we'll finish up afterward. I'm sure that's okay with you ladies?"

Though he'd posed it as a question, it was obvious that Woody expected no protests from his wife or daughter. It wasn't that he was oblivious to the awkwardness inherent in the situation, Lisa thought in resignation. It was just that he didn't have time for old dramas when he had business to discuss.

As much as he cared for his family, business always came first for her father. It was a fact Lisa had accepted a very long time ago.

As was their usual habit, her parents sat at opposite ends of the small breakfast table, so that Lisa and Wade faced each other from the sides. Ellen didn't believe in long, stilted silences at her table, so she kicked off the conversation as they began to eat the cold chicken salad, fresh asparagus spears and fruit compote that Virginia had served for a light lunch.

"How have you been, Wade?" she asked cordially.

"Have you fully recovered from that flu bug you picked up a few weeks ago?"

So that was why he still looked a bit worn, Lisa thought, glancing at the lines around his mouth. She didn't remember Wade ever being sick when she was involved with him; he said he didn't have time to deal with germs.

"Yes, ma'am, I'm feeling fine now," he said with the same deference he had always displayed toward his boss's wife. "Thank you for asking."

"Took him down pretty hard," Woody said to Lisa.

"He missed three days of work that week. Made it to the racetrack, though."

"Of course he did," she murmured without looking at Wade. He'd have to be on his deathbed to miss a race, she thought. And she wouldn't guarantee even then that he wouldn't take the risk of just dropping dead in the pits, doing what he loved more than anything"or anyone"in the world.

"Lisa, do you have any interesting stories to tell us about your job in Chicago?" her mother asked determinedly. "Any exciting cases lately?"

Other than the case that had sent her running to North Carolina out of fear for her very life? "Not really," she said with a bland smile. "Just the usual."

She sensed Wade's intense gaze on her face. It took an effort for her to keep her smile intact.

"Your mother got all nervous last week because she decided your life was just like one of those mystery novels she's always reading," Woody said with an indulgent shake of his head.

Looking a little sheepish, Ellen smiled. "I was reading a story about a prosecutor who was stalked by the vengeful relative of a criminal she'd put away," she explained. "It was set in L.A., but I couldn't help but think about you. Chicago is such a dangerous city and you deal with so many unsavory people in your job."

Lisa felt the corners of her smile tremble, but she forced her lips to behave. "Chicago's not as bad as you make it sound, Mom. And my life really isn't all that dramatic."

She wasn't exactly lying, she assured herself. Her job usually wasn't dangerous. But how coincidental was it that her mother had read that book so recently? Just talking about it made the color fade from her mom's face.

She shouldn't have come here, Lisa thought guiltily. She should have taken her boss's suggestion to find someplace safe and secluded to vacation for a few weeks, keeping her problems far away from her parents, who had enough to worry about right now. But for some reason she'd found herself wanting to come home, even though she had promised herself she wouldn't tell her family the real purpose behind the extended visit.

Obviously, she hadn't thought her decision through. She certainly hadn't planned to be lunching with Wade only a day after her arrival.

"You must be really excited about the way this season is going," she said brightly to her father, hoping no one would see any significance in the jarringly sudden change of topic. "Two of your drivers sitting in the top ten points positions and a third driver not far behind. That would really be something if three of your four teams ended up in The Chase at the end, wouldn't it?"

Both her dad and Wade looked at her oddly, as if they were surprised that she knew where the Woodrow Racing drivers stood in points coming up on the twentieth race of the thirty-sixth race season. Maybe they were startled that she even knew that only the top ten points leaders and those drivers within 400 points of first place were eligible to race for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup during the last ten races of the season, a system referred to as The Chase for the Championship.

She supposed she shouldn't be surprised by their surprise. Since her father had been so determined to keep his family and work life separate, she had been kept well away from the racing world in her youth, forced to learn about the sport by watching televised race coverage like the average fan.

"Er, yeah," Woody said awkwardly. "We're doing real good."

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Hearts Under Caution by Gina Wilkins Harlequin NASCAR Library Co

    Hearts Under Caution by Gina Wilkins
    Harlequin NASCAR Library Collection
    Six years ago Lisa Woodrow broke off her engagement, went to law school and got a job in Chicago. Plenty far away from her home in North Carolina and away from her ex-fiance who is too much like her dad, who owns Woodrow Racing. Racing always came first for her dad and it’s that way for Wade as well. Or is it? 

    Wade McClellan has learned to bury his emotions so well that he has earned the name Ice. That’s fine with him especially now that he needs to hide what he really feels for Lisa. As a crew chief he needs to be focused and calm not distracted by the woman who walked away from him all those years ago.

    If you enjoy series and connected books….Almost Famous continues with Jake Hinson’s story. Jake is a driver the reader meets in this book. The author brings the book to life with the intense job Wade has and seeing the crowds and excitement of NASCAR through Lisa’s eyes, as well as the suspense of watching her back as someone is out to kill her.
    **Mild language

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2012

    Slow read

    This was good, but took forever for the main characters to get together...close to the end of the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    Good Book

    This was a easy reading good romance! If you are a NASCAR fan (which I am) you will probably enjoy more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A fine romance

    When dangerous Jesse Norris escapes, Chicago based Assistant District Attorney Lisa Woodrow decides to take some R&R amidst the safety of her family in Charlotte because she knows this nasty person will be coming for those who put him away. She is at the top of his list. Her ailing parents are elated to see her, but she hides why she came home from them out of concern for their well-being though Lisa suspects her mother knows.------------- However, her former fiancé, Team Woodrow NASCAR crew chief Wade McClellan overhears the threat to his beloved¿s life. He altruistically blackmails her as a caution into staying with him by threatening to tell her parents if she refuses although he also believes her parents would be safer if she remained with him. Wade never stopped loving Lisa even though he assumes it is over between them, but he must insure she is safe and can best do it with the security of the racing circuit.----------- The theme of an avenging convicted criminal going after the prosecutor has been used frequently, however Gina Wilkins freshens it with the milieu of the NASCAR racing circuit. The story line is fast-paced whether the subplot is a second chance at love or the criminal threat. Readers will enjoy this fine race between love and a murdering escapee intent on killing the ADA and anyone else blocking his victory lap.------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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