Ladies, Start Your Engines
by Kimberly Raye
All Savannah Calloway wants for Christmas is a chance to prove her talent with an engine—and hot young NASCAR driver Mackenzie Briggs is ready to play Santa. But they soon find that winning the race isn't nearly as important as winning each other's hearts
'Tis the Silly Season by Roxanne St. Claire
NASCAR Busch Series racer Clay Slater needs a ready-made family—fast—to impress a potential sponsor. Lisa Mahoney can't resist the chance to give her kids the storybook Christmas she's never been able to and if that includes a kiss under the mistletoe, so much the better!
Unbreakable by Debra Webb
Although she's been hired to prove that drivers are serious athletes, Dr. Maxine Gray doesn't think much of NASCAR racing. So in the spirit of Christmas, driver Rush Jackson is determined to show the good doctor the "rush" that racing—and race car drivers—can bring.
About the Author
USA TODAY bestselling author Kimberly Raye started her first novel in high school and has been writing ever since. To date, she’s published more than fifty-eight novels, two of them prestigious RITA® Award nominees. Kim lives deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country with her husband and their young children. You can visit her online at www.kimberlyraye.com.
Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels of suspense and romance. A five-time RITA nominee and one time RITA winner, Roxanne lives in Florida with her husband and two teens, and can be reached via her website, www.roxannestclaire.com or on her Facebook Reader page, www.facebook.com/roxannestclaire.
DEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra's love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at www.DebraWebb.com or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.
Read an Excerpt
THERE WERE MEN. AND THEN there were men.
Savannah Calloway stared across the gigantic garage at the man who leaned under the hood of the blue and black Chevy race car. He wore faded brown cowboy boots and a snug pair of worn jeans. The denim cupped his tight tush and molded to his muscular legs. A frayed rip near the middle of one thigh played peekaboo with her as he leaned down, giving her a mouthwatering glimpse of tanned, hair-dusted skin. A white T-shirt outlined his broad shoulders. The sleeves clung to his sinewy biceps as he worked the wrench with his strong hands.
While she couldn't see his face because he leaned under the car's hood, she didn't have to. She knew the view would only get better because Mackenzie Briggs had killer blue eyes and a drop-dead gorgeous smile to go with his hunky body.
Yep, she knew that firsthand.
Which was why she made it a point to keep her distance from said hunky body and that drop-dead gorgeous smile and, in particular, those killer blue eyes.
Her stomach hollowed out and panic rushed through her. She became acutely aware of the dimly lit garage and the fact that it was half-past midnight on a Saturday night in December. In other words, it was off-season—the last race had been in November, and there was no one—no one—inside the massive building that housed the cars for Jamison Racing.
She swallowed her rising panic.
While she'd always avoided him in the past, things were different now. Savannah no longer worked for Calloway Motor Sports. Not only the largest racing team in the Fort Worth area, but one of the biggest on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit. Much bigger than Jamison Racing—a small, one-car operation whose headquarters sat just north of downtown Fort Worth, only a few miles from the track. Two of the top three drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL series—her twin brothers Trey and Travis—raced for her father's team.
Or at least it had been.
Up until Will Calloway had given her the old heave-ho.
"I know this is upsetting, honey, but it's for your own good. I know you're busy here, so it only makes sense that you should take some time off for yourself. You're not getting any younger. Why, your mother had already had the four of you by the time she'd turned twenty-eight. Of course, she hadn't looked a day over twenty-one, God bless her. Even after four kids, she was every bit as pretty as the day I first married her."
Pretty and smart and perfect. That had been the late Eileen Calloway. The woman had given birth to four kids, loved and cared for them, supported her husband's dream of being a car designer and owner, and looked picture-perfect while doing all of it. Savannah was ten when her mother died of an unexpected heart attack, and she could still remember the attractive blonde flitting about the kitchen in a pink dress and high heels, a twin in each arm and dinner simmering on the stove. She'd always had a smile for everyone and never a cross word, no matter how overworked she'd been or how stressed. She'd been perfect, all right.
Savannah had spent the past twenty-eight years following in her mother's perfect footsteps. Right down to the pink high heels.
She glanced down at the pair of three-inch stilettos she wore. Her toes whimpered in protest, and she wished she'd thought to swing by her condo to change. But she'd been so devastated when she'd left Calloway, pink slip in hand to match her outfit, that her only thought had been "What am I going to do now?"
She was officially unemployed. Jobless. Desperate. Not hormone-deprived, mind you (the kind that had sent her straight into Mac's arms six years ago for a night of unforgettable pleasure). This time it was pure survival instinct that had driven her to Jamison Racing at a quarter past midnight in search of Mac.
And if he says no?
He wouldn't. Because he needed her as much as she needed him. He just didn't realize it yet.
THE SOFT FOOTSTEPS ECHOED IN Mac's head and it took everything he had not to toss the wrench down and turn toward her.
He still couldn't believe it, but there was no mistaking the scent that pushed past the sharp aroma of motor oil and car exhaust to tease his nostrils. Vanilla mixed with light, fluffy whipped cream. Sweet. She smelled so damned sweet. She always had.
Of course, he hadn't had an up-close whiff of Savannah Calloway in nearly six years, but he still hadn't forgotten.
He caught the occasional glimpse of her sitting in the owner's box at the track. But since she was Calloway's marketing manager and, more importantly, since her father had always been so adamant about keeping her out of the garage, she spent more time in the business office than she did in the trenches.
Thus nixing any encounters of the close kind. Lucky for him.
But his luck seemed to have finally run out because she was here. Now. Here.
He stiffened as she came to a halt next to him, but he didn't turn toward her. Instead, he concentrated on unscrewing the massive bolt that held part of the carburetor in place.
"Mac? Can I talk to you for a second?"
"The answer is no." He twirled the wrench a few more twists until the nut rolled off the bolt and into his palm.
"No, I can't talk to you?"
"No, I'm not driving for your father again. I like driving for Jamison. It's a small team, but we're family and the owner is committed for the long haul."
"That's nice, but I'm not here about your driving skills. Even though you did make an impressive showing this past year."
"So why are you here?"
"Because I need you."
He looked at her then. He couldn't help himself. Her words rang in his ears and his head swiveled.
Her soft brown hair streaked with blond hung past her shoulders in soft waves that made his fingers itch to reach out. She had hazel eyes as rich as hot caramel and just as addictive. She wore a pink blouse, fitted pink skirt and a pair of high heels that made her legs seem endless. The small spot of grease near her collar was the only indication that Savannah Calloway liked to get down and dirty in the pit when no one, especially her father, was looking.
He knew then that she hadn't changed much from the twenty-something who'd come down to the garage every day to spend her lunch hour changing spark plugs or tightening pins. Before her father walked in and chased her back to the office, that is.
"What I mean is—" she licked her full, pink lips
"—you need me. We need each other."
He set the wrench aside, leaned one hip against the car and folded his arms. "How do you figure that?"
"Let's face it. You're good, but you're not better than my brothers." Trey and Travis were the only twin brothers racing the circuit and they'd all but locked down the first and second positions since they'd hit their stride two years ago. "But you could be."
"You let me make a few adjustments to your car in time for the New Year's Eve charity race. I've been watching you. You're close, Mac. You just need a little something to push you up to the next level. I'm that something. You want a championship? I can set you up to win one. The New Year's exhibition race will be next season's predictor. Whoever wins will set the pace for next year. It could be you."
"And what do you get out of it?"
"A chance to prove to my father that I belong on his team. Specifically, in the garage." She stiffened.
"I should have stood up to him years ago, but he's always been so adamant about keeping me out of the garage and I've always been so busy with everything else..." She swallowed, and sadness flashed in her eyes. "Too busy to argue. But all that's changed now. He let me go."
"He really fired you?"
She nodded. "He wants me to get a life. Settle down. Find Mr. Right." She shook her head. "But that's not what I want."
"You have something against living happily ever after?"
"Not at all. But who says happily ever after involves a man?" When he arched an eyebrow, she shook her head. "I like men, but that doesn't mean I need one. Besides, men don't like women who can change a tire faster than they can."
"Maybe you're going out with the wrong men."
"That's the problem. They're all wrong and I'm tired of wasting my time. Better to focus on something I can actually fix, like my career. Or lack thereof." She motioned around. "I want to be here. In a garage. Doing what I love. He won't take me seriously unless I do something serious. Something drastic."
"Like help the competition."
"Exactly. He can't dismiss it as tinkering if you win the race and then tell everyone that you couldn't have won without my expertise. He'll realize that I'm a valuable member of the team and he'll give up this crazy idea about me getting married and having babies. Not that I don't want to get married someday. But not today. Or any time soon. I know I'm not getting any younger, but I'm only twenty-eight. That's not old."
"Hell, no. And neither is thirty-two."
"Well, I wouldn't go that far." She grinned and his heart skipped a sudden beat. "So, can we do this?"
This and anything else you have in mind. That's what his body said. But Mac had been pushing himself far too long to give in to his ungentlemanly urges. Even when it came to Savannah Calloway.
Especially when it came to her.
He eyed her. "How do I know this isn't just a setup? A way for you to get the inside scoop on me?"
"I wouldn't do that."
She wouldn't. He could see the sincerity in her gaze. The determination. The desperation.
Even so, he wasn't about to let just anyone touch his car. "I finished fourth this past year. Calloway has four drivers. I'm sure your father's itching to dominate the top positions."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an interesting trilogy of NASCAR related holiday theme stories. All three were enjoyable in varying ways. The first story, Ladies, Start Your Engines... was more technically inclined with lots of mechanic intensive lingo to go along with the reinstatement of a former relationship. In this story Savannah is the sole daughter of Calloway Family Racing and wannabe mechanic. Unfortunately she had spent her life acting as fill-in for her dead mother/hostess for her father and mother to her younger brothers along with filling the role of PR specialist and secretary for the team. When her father decides it is time for her to go out and marry so he can have grandchildren, her fires her from the team. This leads Savannah to seek her fortune elsewhere, namely with her family's former driver and her years ago one night stand, Mackenzie Briggs. Now with a new team Mac knows he can get into the top three for the Chase, and Savannah knows she can help with this with the right tweaking to his car. This short was well written although I found the technical parts a little overdone. Probably because I hear enough of it from my husband without reading about it in my romances LOL! How Savannah allows herself to be pushed around by her family is a little exasperating but how she winds up dealing with it all shows some great character development. Actually, for a short story all the character personalities come across strong, clear and primarily developed, which was very nice, making this my second favorite of the trilogy.'Tis the Silly Season relied more on the development of the characters' relationships than the racing itself when driver, Clay Slater, hires out of work waitress, Lisa Mahoney, to pose as his wife to help woo a prospective sponsor. This was certainly the short with the most Christmasy theme as Lisa takes on the challenge of acting as a wife to give her children their first ever real Christmas, complete with tree and gifts she wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. I really liked this one, although it did seem over the top for a sponsor to require a driver to be married to be considered as a driver. But, for all I know those kind of situations exist, I know the quest for sponsors in NASCAR is a competitive and necessary one. I liked both Clay and Lisa along with Lisa's two sons, particularly the somber Keith. It was nice that both leads were imperfect and made mistakes while trying to accomplish their personal goals. This was my favorite of the three.Unbreakable was the third story and as it started off it rather grated on my nerves as it was all about image. The author seemed overly obsessive about the ideas of health and fitness in the NASCAR sport and her lead character of Dr. Maxine Gray reflected the obsession. I just don't see the basis of proving that drivers and their teams are athletes in the traditional sense of the word, its not really something I care about one way or the other. Really, the entire premise of the short seemed to be based on how the media and public can be lead around by propaganda imagined up about the drivers. However, I did like the other aspects of the story as Dr. Gray and Rush, the driver, got to know each other, although they both were rather goody-goody types. Despite the fact that this story wasn't my favorite I still did enjoy it for the most part, even if it may not seem so from what I've said here.Overall I think this is a well balanced Christmas/NASCAR themed anthology with the main themes being diverse enough within the context of the genre. In each story the characters were relatable and all were pretty well developed, especially considering the brevity of page space each were given. As always with any NASCAR romance (at least any that I've read so far) the bedroom scenes are of the "fade to black" type and there really isn't anything to offend even the most sensitive sensibilities. I also found it interesting enough to read the en
Roxanne St. Claire author of Killer Curves,certainly knows racing and NASCAR. 'TIS THE SILLY SEASON featuring a sweet waitress and her boys and one hot race car driver will entertain every reader this Holiday season! TIS THE SILLY SEASON IS NOMINATED FOR 2007 RITA.I didn't know what to expect with this NASCAR book as there has been all sorts of discussions about keeping the NASCAR family image and would this be another great St. Claire read? Well it is and more. It's about the joy and spirit of Christmas and the true meaning of love. Roxanne's two main characters Clay and Lisa are quite a team and the sparks fly between them immediately. Then throw in two adorable boys who have never celebrated Christmas, a family short of money, a race car driver who loves the challenge of speed and success and oooooh what a mix. All I can say is this author has once again provided her readers with one entertaining read.
A NASCAR Holiday Anthology Ladies, Start Your Engines….by Kimberly Raye Savannah Calloway was tired of living in her late mother’s shadow. Dressing, dieting, cooking to please her dad and brothers. Not to mention doing the office work instead of working in the pit like she wanted. No more. She offered her mechanical services to the competition. Mackenzie Briggs accepted the help Savannah offered to give him to improve his car. She was one of those girls you couldn’t forget. Now she was under his car and could it be she was in his heart? 'Tis The Silly Season by Roxanne St. Claire Clay Slater needs a family to please the sponsor of the ride he wants. If that’s the image they want he’ll give it to them. Fresh out of a job and after promising her sons their first Christmas ever Lisa Mahoney agrees to pretend to be Clay’s wife. She needs the money and the boys need a Christmas. You may want to have some tissues around for this one if stories hit your emotional buttons. Great story. The author continues the story of Shelby Jackson in the Harlequin NASCAR series book, Thunderstruck. Unbreakable by Debra Webb Rush Jackson really is a good guy but someone out there is trying to make him look bad. And worse yet it seems to be someone on the inside. Not to mention he’s struggling with an attraction to a woman who is so far removed from his world. Dr. Maxine Gray’s life runs on facts, such as proving what activities are considered sports. When she is called to find the facts on race car drivers her world tilts. She finds herself struggling between sticking with the facts and being awed by Rush removing his shirt. What happened to the sensible woman she knows is inside her body? Great story, once again shows how easily pictures can be made to tell a story that isn’t the truth. Also how opposites really do attract. The author continues the story of boss man Buck Buchanan in her Harlequin NASCAR series book, Danger Zone. **Mild language
Ladies, Start Your Engines by Kimberly Raye This was my least liked book of all of the anthologies. I had to force myself to keep reading, hoping that it would get better. I personally thought that Savannah needed to have a back-bone. She let her brothers and father walk all over her and didn’t stand up for herself until I felt it was WAY TOO LATE. For that, I didn’t really care for her. The story really did lack the “true” Christmas feel to it. It could have been a story at anytime of the year. ‘Tis The Silly Season by Roxanne St. Claire Of the three anthologies in this book, THIS IS HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE! The book pulled me in the second I started reading it. I honestly could not get enough. I love the main characters (Clay Slater and Lisa Mahoney). You will definately love this book too. Unbreakable by Debra Webb I’ve read Debra’s book Christmas Past and I liked it… Thus, I had high hopes for this book. Sadly I really didn’t like the heroine in this book. Once you get to understand where she comes from she’s isn’t really that bad, but I still felt that she’s still a little off for lack of a better word. In the situation she was thrown in, I can understand her feelings. There are a couple of things going on in this book. You have the romance that you’re expecting. But you also have a little mini mystery that you aren’t. I really liked the mini mystery. But I think that it could have played out a little better.
Review by Jen: "Ladies, Start Your Engines" by Kimberly Raye Savannah comes from a racing family, but is stuck in the back office and doesn't feel appreciated by the family. When her father fires her in hopes that she'll settle down and start a family, she runs to the competition to prove that she has a talent with cars. The problem is the competition is Mackenzie, an upcoming driver and Savannah's ex-lover, whom she is still attracted to. This was a solid story, but other than being set just before Christmas, I didn't get the holiday theme. But it was definitely a NASCAR story. "'Tis the Silly Season" by Roxanne St. Claire Racer Clay needs a ready-made family if he has any hopes of impressing a potential sponsor. And Lisa sees this as the perfect opportunity to give her kids the Christmas they have never had. But what neither of them had expected was that love is in the air and a Christmas miracle was in the works. This story was easily my favorite of the three stories. I enjoyed the characters and it had the Christmas theme that I wanted when I bought the book. And it helped that the sparks between Clay and Lisa were hot enough to melt snow. "Unbreakable" by Debra Webb Maxine has been hired to prove that race car drivers are serious athletes and Rush is her guinea pig. But it doesn't help that Maxine is attracted to her subject and Rush wants to show her that "rush" that racers can bring is not only on the track. I have mixed feelings about this novella. I liked the characters, but I don't think their story was developed enough. The story got lost when pair with others that were better developed. I think the story was a good start, but just fell short in the end.
¿Ladies, Start Your Engines¿ by Kimberly Raye. Widower Will Calloway shocks his daughter Savannah when he fires her from Calloway Motor Sports, a major participant in the Nextel Cup competition. Will is worried that Savannah has not settled down though she is twenty-eight. Savannah tells Jameson team driver Mackenzie Briggs that he needs her to become the top racer in the Fort Worth area as she plans to prove to her father no one knows engines better than her. He agrees, but it is more than cars they will work on. --- ¿Tis the Silly Season¿ by Roxanne St. Clair. Raleigh waitress Lisa Mahoney has no credit to buy a Mighty Motor Remote Control Stingray and a Mighty Flight Remote Control Viper as Christmas presents for her children. A woman tells NASCAR Busch Series Driver Clay Slater that she needs him only if he settles down. Clay explains to Lisa that he needs a family to prove to Kincaid Toys he is their perfect salesman. When Lisa loses her job due to a TKO, they make an agreement, but neither expected love would seal the deal. --- ¿Unbreakable¿ by Debra Webb. In Huntsville Rocket City team owner Buck Buchanan warns star driver Russell ¿Rush¿ Jackson that his career will end if he fails to watch his image as a photo surfaced that impugns his honor and affirms to those that racing is not a sport. Buck also tells Rush he has arranged for New England Institute for Independent Experts to study racing to ascertain whether this is a sport or not. Dr. Maxine ¿Max¿ Gray is sent to investigate. However, while the researcher and the driver fall in love, someone continues to smear Rush for no apparent reason. --- Contemporary readers will ¿Go for the Gold¿ when they ride with these delightful NASCAR romances. --- Harriet Klausner