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Risking Her Heart
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Risking Her Heart

4.6 5
by Wendy Etherington

As manager of her family's champion team, Rachel Garrison learned the woes of mixing business with pleasure the hard way. And no way is she going to get involved with NASCAR sponsor Parker Huntington, the guy who almost ruined her brother's career! But that doesn't mean she can deny her instant and unwanted attraction to his considerable charms.…

Parker is


As manager of her family's champion team, Rachel Garrison learned the woes of mixing business with pleasure the hard way. And no way is she going to get involved with NASCAR sponsor Parker Huntington, the guy who almost ruined her brother's career! But that doesn't mean she can deny her instant and unwanted attraction to his considerable charms.…

Parker is used to getting exactly what he wants—and when Rachel needs his help finding out who's embezzling from her family, their sleuthing soon leads to stolen kisses. However, neither knows how to trust in love…or whether they even want to take that risk. And Parker isn't about to let down his guard until he sweet-talks Rachel into surrendering her heart!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this leisurely sequel to 2007's No Holding Back, beautiful Rachel Garrison, manager of the Garrison family NASCAR racing team, struggles with mixed feelings about insufferably egotistical Parker Huntington, who owns a hotel chain, talks like a professor and serial-dates bikini models. He's also the team's sponsor, so Rachel has to work with him, patiently deflecting his advances despite her attraction to him. To make matters worse, someone is embezzling Garrison family funds, Rachel's parents have just gone through a bitter divorce and her brother Cade's fiancée, Isabel, is having second thoughts about the wedding. Rachel, swamped, finally gives in and asks for Parker's help, and their troubles fade into the background as sparks fly at last. Rachel's lively banter with Parker and Isabel keeps the pace from lagging too much, and racing takes a definite back seat to romance, giving readers a little more of the sizzle that was missing from the previous book. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin NASCAR Series
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Parker Huntington snagged two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter as he headed toward the stunning brunette dressed in a figure-hugging column of gold sparkles and satin.

She'd scooped up her long, dark hair into a twist at the back of her head, leaving her neck bare but for a few silky-looking tendrils brushing her shoulders. Her lips were pink and glossy; her skin glowed. She looked happy and relaxed, more than he'd ever seen her.

And tonight she'd belong to him.

His patience had come to an end—not that he'd ever had all that much to begin with. He was finished with letting her use her family or her work as excuses to dismiss or avoid him. He was tired of exchanging hot glances and having veiled conversations about the chemistry between them.

They were attracted to each other, and it was long past time to do something about it.

Weaving his way through the throngs of people, he told himself that surely, in such a public forum, she wouldn't outright ignore him.

Be cool, man. You seduce women as easily as you breathe. Why should this one be any different?

"Why indeed?" he whispered to himself as his heart went into a full gallop and Rachel Garrison turned toward him.

The bright smile on her face faded, became tight. Her light blue eyes frosted briefly, then cleared of any expression. She was trying so hard to convince him that he was a casual, sometimes annoying business acquaintance.

Or was she trying harder to convince herself?

Determined not to let her familiar reaction dissuade him, he handed her the glass of bubbly and smiled. "Good evening, Rachel." Anticipating a sarcastic comment, he added, "You look lovely."

She sipped from her glass and glanced around. "Thank you."

"I hear we're planning a wedding," he said, his gaze sliding to Cade and Isabel, who were standing a few feet away, wrapped in each other, seeming oblivious to the crowds of people around them and the fact that he was about to accept second place in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.

"Yeah. I hope he lets go of her long enough to give his speech."

Was he a masochist for so enjoying her dust-dry comebacks?

Staring at her profile and imagining sliding his finger down her satiny cheek, he shook his head. No, pleasure was the act that frequently came to mind around Rachel. "Well, aren't we bitter in the face of deep and abiding love."

"I'm not—" She sighed, then shook her head. "I'm thrilled for them. I've never seen Cade this happy. I'm just—"


She glanced at him, amusement flickering in her eyes. She was a smart woman, so she must appreciate intelligence in other people. Why hadn't she yet been wowed by his brain?

"I'm not cranky," she said. "Three-year-olds are cranky."

"Of course. Maybe you're just tired."


"Annoyed?" He grinned. "At me perhaps for anticipating your deep-seated need for witty conversation and refreshment, then generously providing both?"

Her smile broadened, then she shook her head. "Why do you always talk like you're trying to impress your 1930s Harvard economics professor?"

He toasted her with his glass. "Just one of those aggravating habits you could learn to love if you weren't always running the other direction every time you saw me."

She snorted in disbelief. "I don't run from you."

"I beg to differ, but I won't argue the point. You looked happy earlier."

"I was happy."

"Before you saw me."

She said nothing.

Ouch. "What is it about me that gets your back up so effortlessly?"

She narrowed her eyes. "Your fancy words and highbrow degree don't impress people. It pushes them away."

"And I was about to flash my mini diploma—the one I had laminated by the thousands to pass out as business cards." He raised his eyebrows. "Really, Rachel. That's the best you can do? You don't like me because of where I went to school?"

"Fine. If you really want to know. I think you're too arrogant, self-important, egotis—"

"Yes, I'm familiar with the meaning of arrogant." Frankly, he considered himself confident and very self-aware, not arrogant. Certainly not egotistical.

"You just might want to tone it down," she said. "Relax the proper manners a little." Her face flushed. "They make fun of you. The guys in the shop."

"Yes, I know."

"Like you're a modern-day Beau Brummell. Well, actually, I provided the Brummell part. They just know you don't fit in."

He nodded in acknowledgment. He'd always gotten along much better with women. They all wanted him for one thing or another. Except one.

He studied Rachel. Well, perhaps two. Though he was certain he could adjust her thinking, given time.

As for a camaraderie with guys—at least guys his own age—he struggled. He'd often been accused of being born out of his time, and the Brummell accusation was reasonably accurate. He did have an excellent fashion sense.

"My grandmother was a stickler for diction," he said. And it was a defense mechanism, a way of trying to make himself seem clever and sophisticated enough to belong to his family. "It's a habit I can't seem to break. Maybe I could let the guys wow me with their knowledge of engines and aerodynamics. My economics professor never got around to that particular discussion."

A genuine smile quivered on her lips. "As long as you let them do that while you buy them a beer."

He winced. "I prefer wine."

"Of course you do." She looked heavenward—for guidance or maybe patience, he wasn't sure. "As long as we're clearing the air, you might as well know that you, ah… get my back up—" She angled her head. "Like a cat, I guess?"

"There is a resemblance around the eyes…"

"Yeah? Then you might want to make sure you keep your distance, so you don't get scratched."

Fascinated by the heat in her eyes and anticipating the moment he turned it to desire, he leaned closer. "I'll keep that in mind."

"You annoy me because you nearly ruined my brother's career."

"I did that all by myself, did I? Wow, I must be pretty powerful."

"Don't be cute. You had him arrested."

"I believe the police did that."

"Because you pressed them to."

"My father—" He stopped when her scowl deepened and lines appeared on her forehead. He wanted to rub them away. He wanted her to smile at him again.

Dream on.

"I was going to say my father encouraged the police, but in your eyes we're one and the same, and since I did nothing to stop him, I'll set aside that defense. I've taken responsibility for my mistakes. Cade and I have made our peace. I could also point out that your brother hit me, not the other way around."

"You drove him to it—criticizing his driving, interfering with the team."

And making the mistake of sharing my attraction to you.

A variety of events had led to the demise of his and Cade's business partnership. But after a year and a half apart, they'd managed to work through their issues, sign a new deal for Cade to drive the Huntington Hotels car for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year and somehow become friends along the way. Cade probably still wouldn't be wild about Parker pursuing his sister, but he hoped they could overcome that complication.

Since that's precisely what he intended to do.

"Perhaps I did," he said to Rachel. "But he's accepted my apology. Why can't you?"

"I don't—"

"How much longer do we have to wear these dang things?" Sam Benefield, Cade's crew chief, asked as he approached, tugging on his tie.

"It's once a year," the woman next to him, presumably his wife, said.

The woman on the other side of Sam looked as if she might be in her early twenties. His daughter? She rolled back her shoulders, obviously to better show off her cleavage, and gave Parker a dazzling smile.

"I'm Parker Huntington," he said, shaking each woman's hand in turn.

Sam gruffly apologized for not initiating the introductions, and Parker learned the women were indeed Sam's wife and daughter.

"We're all so excited about next year," his wife said. "With you being part of the team, we may even get Emily to a few races." She cast a teasing look at her daughter. "She's in school at UNC—hotel and restaurant management."

As Emily tossed back her hair, Parker smiled at her, though it was the casual one he reserved for daughters of business associates.

She was a lovely woman, with wheat-blond hair and soft brown eyes, and an obviously inviting smile. But while he certainly enjoyed all kinds of women, he had standards. And he drew a sharp, age-appropriate boundary line between himself and college students.

He reached into his jacket pocket for a business card. "When you graduate, call my office. I'll be glad to set up some interviews for you."

"That would be wonderful," Emily said in a fake-sounding, throaty voice. "Thanks." She glanced at the card. "You live in New York?"

"I actually have two offices—one in New York and one in Charlotte."

"Charlotte?" Rachel asked, her eyes widening. "Since when?"

"Since this week. I have to keep an eye on my race team, don't I?"

She visibly relaxed her face—probably to keep from rolling her eyes at the prospect of having him in town. "It's not your team, and we're doing just fine. Thanks."

Was it such a surprise he was crazy about her?

"They're opening the doors to the ballroom," Sam noted as people moved around them and toward the main doors. He tugged on his wife's arm. "Let's get this over with."

Rachel patted Sam's shoulder. "At least you don't have to give a speech."

"Though you might want to prepare one for when we win the championship," Parker added, following them.

"I'm fine with second," Sam said.

Rachel laughed. "Yeah, right."

Once they were in the ballroom, they were separated, since Rachel and her family were sitting near the front, while Parker, who hadn't sponsored a race team for the past year, had to settle for a seat in the back.

The program rolled along slowly. Several times, Parker found himself running through his mental to-do list and his scheduled meetings for the following week. After Cade gave his speech and left the stage, Parker headed to the suite he and the executives at Go! Energy Drink had rented for the banquet weekend. Go! had been Cade's sponsor for the past year, and they'd agreed to come on board as an associate sponsor for next year's team.

With the media dispersed and the TV cameras turned off, the team members could relax and really let go in private. Parker was counting on the partying mood to affect Rachel, give him the opportunity to charm her, then to discreetly lead her to his suite and seduce her.

Laying out that plan so succinctly sounded slightly cold-blooded, he supposed, but then he didn't plan to be anything less than honest about his intentions. They would give in to their chemistry, have a weekend of fun, then move on. He wouldn't complicate her life. He didn't get involved. And from what Cade's fiancée, Isabel, had told him, Rachel didn't either. Men usually tried to use her for her business or racing connections.

She could certainly trust him in that area.

Plus, he didn't expect undying love or devotion and doubted Rachel did either. They were both busy people with very full lives of traveling and business.

Business which had become increasingly difficult when he found himself constantly staring across the table at Rachel's lips and thinking about kissing them rather than what they were saying.

Yes, it was best to get this attraction out of their systems.

With a glass of wine in his hand, he leaned in the balcony doorway and waited for her.

He doubted he'd have to linger for long. After hours of smiling politely, responding to media interviews and listening to endless streams of thanks and congratulations, everybody was usually ready for a drink or two.

She walked in with her father and older brother, Bryan, both former drivers, champions and now integral parts of Garrison Racing. Parker respected both men for their business sense, driving skills and leadership to their teams. Despite the occasional bouts of tension, the Garrisons were a close-knit family. They teased, supported and bickered with equal passion. When he'd first met them four years ago, a deep-seated need he hadn't been aware of to that point blossomed.

He'd found himself longing for their casual hugs and fierce dedication, not just to the racing business but to each other. He wanted their ease with their legacy in the industry. Their bond with their colleagues.

The formality and properness of his own family had seemed oddly out of place ever since.

After a moment or two of conversation, the Gar risons separated, with the guys heading to the bar and Rachel walking directly toward him.

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Risking Her Heart 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Parker Huntington is attracted to Rachel Garrison and believes she reciprocates. Thus the sponsor of her family¿s Garrison Racing NASCAR team cannot understand why she rejects his advances.----------- Rachel is attracted to Parker and believes he reciprocates. However, she refuses to have anything to do with him outside of racing as he is known for his love them leave them attitude besides she firmly believes in not mixing pleasure with business. Instead she begins dating someone else although when she believes someone is stealing from her family¿s business she asks Parker to help her determine who.----------- The second Garrison sibling NASCAR romance (see NO HOLDING BACK) stays off the track for the most part focusing more on the business aspects of racing. The story line can stand alone, but is clearly enhanced by reading the first tale as the overarching plot moves forward. Those who read both tales will appreciate the forming of the balanced scorecard as first there was the mission perspective and now the finance view. In each novel Liz Allison & Wendy Etherington insures their characters are solid so that fans will enjoy watching whether Rachel and Parker risk their heart. Harriet Klausner
Jutzie More than 1 year ago
Risking Her Heart by Liz Allison and Wendy Etherington The Garrison’s Book 2 Rachel Garrison’s life is surrounded by people involved in racing so the last thing she wants is to date anyone involved in the sport. Her brother’s sponsor hasn’t exactly offered to date her anyways, more like a week-end fling, but she don’t do casual.  Parker Huntington don’t do relationships. After being abandoned by his mother and watching his father live a miserable life…. happily ever after isn’t something he believes in. If only Rachel would have took him up on his offer he could have taken her to bed and she’d be out of his head.  Rachel’s folks divorced and her brother’s wife left him, that’s enough to prove marriages don’t work, although she hopes the best for her other brother’s upcoming marriage. These two just can’t shake their fears and see what they could have together if only they took a chance. The authors continue where they left off in book one, No Holding Back, with Cade and Isabel’s story. The third book in this series is Winning It All. **Mild language
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