Under the Hood
When Alice Starr mistakenly believes attorney Mark Jameson needs her help, he discovers he likes being rescued for a change. Smitten by her confidence, he hides his expertise so he has an excuse to see her again. Alice doesn't have time for a man. But with one kiss, she and Mark have advanced into water so deep she's in danger of drowning...
Racing the Hunter’s Moon
Feisty Betty Smith should have only one thing on her mind—catching the conman who swindled her mother. Not the sexy stranger who kissed her then completely disappeared.
Undercover FBI agent Joe Carter needs to focus on the bad guy who got away, not the gorgeous headstrong brunette who watches too many cop shows and keeps interfering in his case. And while entering the vintage car rally as a couple seemed like a good idea at the time, faking feelings for each other turns out to be the easiest part.
Love for Beginners
Melody Swan is looking for a man who can share her hopes and dreams, but she swore she would never lose herself to passion. When sexy Heath Starr agrees to temporarily sub in the Under the Hood garage for his sister, Mel sees the perfect opportunity to enjoy being with a man without becoming attached. Heath came to Meadowsweet to photograph nature, not find a hookup, especially since his last relationship ended in disaster. When the two find themselves isolated in a rustic cabin, they could both break their promises if they aren’t careful...
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Under the Hood Boxed Set
By Sally Clements
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Sally Clements
All rights reserved.
Some things you do for others and some things just for yourself.
Alice Starr smoothed down her pink silk teddy before slipping into her jeans. She loved the smooth slide of silk across her body. The sensuous fabric made her feel beautiful, even when her uniform was smeared with grease.
No one had to know.
When she'd left the family business three months ago to start a new venture, they'd tried hard to talk her out of it. "Running a garage is hard work," her father had warned, with decades of experience on his side. And her brothers had told her she didn't have anything to prove.
But when the opportunity to buy into an equal partnership with two of her best friends had come up, she would have been crazy not to go for it. There was no garage out there that provided the service Under the Hood had to offer. Starting fresh in a new town, far away from New York had its attractions, too. Here, no one knew her history. Her friends back home were supportive, but she was sick to death of being pitied, of the unsettled feeling that filled her chest every time she got together with friends and hoped she wouldn't bump into Joel and his new squeeze.
She pulled on a thin, black jersey sweater, then stepped into her navy overalls. Thick socks and steel-toed boots next, and she was ready to face the day. She snagged the keys to her pickup off the table and pushed open the door. There was a full day of repairs ahead and she needed to get on the road. The sky was bright with early morning sun, but a chill lingered in the spring air, so she strode quickly around the side of the building to the parking lot, half-wondering, full-on hoping that the racing green MG would be there. She'd barely had a chance to look it over when she pulled in late last night, and with exhaustion and the need for a late dinner hastening her steps, had only stroked a hand over its hood, which gleamed in the moonlight.
It must belong to Mark Jameson.
Mrs. White, the widow in 1B, told her all about him the other day. She had leaned close and whispered, "Mark is a lovely young man," as if he had ears like a bat and might somehow hear. "He's a blond too, but not as light as you, dear. The Jamesons are one of Meadowsweet's oldest families, and Mark is the ..." She counted off on her fingers. "... third child. I reckon he must be about thirty now." She crossed her arms atop her generous bosom and smiled as though imparting valuable information. "He's a definite catch."
A mental image of a fat haddock hanging from a line had instantly flashed through Alice's mind, and she'd smothered her smile with a cough.
Why on earth she thought I'd be interested ...
Rounding the corner, Alice stopped dead. The MG sat exactly where it had been last night. A man was bent over, peering into the engine beneath the raised hood. It was rare to find a British classic in her little piece of Virginia. Rarer still to find a man wearing a sharp suit and dark, shiny, what must be Italian, shoes.
This must be the haddock. Slowly, Alice walked closer. "Hi."
"What —" He jerked, banging his head on the hood, then straightened, showcasing an awesome pair of broad shoulders. His dark blond hair was businessman short, his white shirt accessorized with a red tie.
Hazel eyes gazed into hers, and Alice's heart raced.
He grinned and rubbed the top of his head. "I didn't hear you."
His deep tenor set a flurry of tingles racing up her spine. She flushed with warmth, despite the weather. He was as far from a fish as you could get. And in that suit? Maybe he was a shark. Alice stepped forward and peered into the engine. "Car trouble?"
He hesitated, and then his gaze dropped to the image on her breast. "Are you ..."
He was only checking out Under The Hood's logo, but her body responded to his gaze as if he'd reached out and stroked her.
She swallowed. "A mechanic, yes. Your lucky day." And mine.
"I'm Mark Jameson. You must have just moved in?"
"Yes. I'm Alice," she murmured. "I live in 3B."
"Just below me, then. This really is my lucky day." His smile hinted at a double meaning. His gaze travelled down her body, making her acutely aware of every inch of the silk hidden beneath her overalls. She imagined his hands gliding along her teddy, blazing the same trail.
She turned abruptly and braced herself on the frame of the car, forcing herself to look at the engine. She had to find a way to control her reaction to this man. He stepped closer and placed his hand near hers.
"I'm pretty sure it's the battery. If you have jumper cables, I'd be grateful."
Jumper cables? Alice's body was sparking with so much electricity that if their fingers touched the engine would start without them. She rubbed her hands on her overall-clad thighs. "No problem." She smiled, reached into her pocket for her keys, and strode to her pickup. Okay, so Mrs. White had called it. Her new neighbor was not only totally gorgeous, but he needed her help. And who could resist a hero in distress?
* * *
So this was his mysterious new neighbor.
3B had been empty for a while. When he'd made it back last night after a few days away finalizing the pre-nup for a new client in New York, Mark had noticed the light on from the street outside and the battered pickup next to his parking space.
He took advantage of the fact that she was busy searching her truck for jumper cables to check her out without being noticed. Alice. The name suited her. Long, platinum-blond hair pulled up in a ponytail looked natural — her skin was Nordic pale too, and the eyes he'd caught a glimpse of were ice blue, like aquamarines. She barely came up to his shoulder, and even the ugly overalls weren't able to totally hide the hint of curves he'd noticed when checking out the image of a woman holding the spanner on her uniform.
Mark frowned. He really shouldn't be noticing his new neighbor that way. If she was a mechanic, she probably had men hitting on her all day. Besides, he wasn't in the market for a new relationship. Extricating people from ill-judged romantic follies all day had taught him to be cautious where attraction was concerned.
He pushed back his shirtsleeve and looked at his watch. Luckily, he'd left himself plenty of time to make the meeting at his client's office, and if a dead battery was all that was wrong with the MG, he'd be on his way quickly.
His gaze lingered on Alice for a long moment as she popped the hood and then grabbed red and black leads, attached one set to her battery terminals, and handed the others to him.
Her hand brushed his, and a jolt of electricity raced up his arm.
Mark stared. What on earth?
Alice looked pointedly at the engine as he stood still, fixed to the spot by the unexpected reaction to her touch.
Then her eyes softened. A small, sympathetic smile tilted the corners of her lips upward. She stepped close, and took the leads from his unresisting fingers. "This one goes here," she said, fastening the clip in place, "and this one goes here."
Mark nodded, still stunned. She thought he was so clueless about engines he didn't even know how to attach jumper cables.
"Now, I'll just start my truck and you'll soon be on your way." She walked to her pickup and swung inside.
Mark opened the car and slid into its polished interior. He should have said something. Should have confessed that there was absolutely nothing he didn't know about cars — he'd been taking engines apart his whole life. He'd inherited the MG from his grandfather and had it shipped over from England. Maintaining the little classic car took plenty of man-hours, and he was discerning about who he let tinker with the engine. His sisters called him a control freak where the car was concerned. And they were right.
He turned the key and the engine roared to life. Through his windshield he saw her give him the thumbs up, and before he'd climbed out, she had the cables off and stowed.
"Got to run — have a good day!" She hopped into the pickup and sped out of the lot.
Mark stood there, staring after her. She'd liked helping him. He'd seen warmth in her eyes as she took the cables from his fingers. His mouth curved into a smile.
Being rescued is fun.CHAPTER 2
"Got a couple of minutes?" Melody Swan asked the moment Alice pushed open the large glass doors of the showroom. "There's half an hour before opening, and we want to have a policy meeting."
"Sure," Alice said.
"Betty's in the office." Melody grinned and hoisted high a box of doughnuts. "Coffee's on, and I've brought breakfast."
Alice let her gaze skim Melody's slim frame. How was it fair that Melody treated herself to every edible treat going and didn't put on an inch? It had been the same in college.
"So, do you miss me?" she asked.
"The sofa's not the same without you," Melody teased. "How was your weekend — are you totally settled in yet?"
"Not only am I settled in, but this morning I met the catch."
Mel's chestnut eyes widened. "Seriously?"
Betty's voice came from behind them as they walked into the office. "What did I miss?" She balanced a tray of steaming coffee and three plates. "Action?"
"The haddock," Mel replied. "He's been spotted."
Alice pulled a black leather chair out from behind a desk and sat. "He drives an MGB GT. Absolutely beautiful car. I'd love to get my hands on it."
"And him?" Betty placed a cup before her and reached into the white box for a glazed donut. "Does he live up to the hype?"
Alice snagged a donut too, and bit off a chunk. "Well ..."
"Give!" Mel stuck her hands on her hips and fastened Alice with her "spill it" gaze. "We need details."
A remembered vision of the dimple that had creased his cheek flashed into Alice's mind, quickly followed by the memory of the answering blaze of heat that started in her belly and raced through her at the sight. "He's pretty good looking."
"And we know he's single," Betty teased. "Maybe there's more than a successful business in your future —"
"Guys, seriously. He's handsome and I gave him a jump start this morning. That's all there is to it. Now, what else is on the agenda?"
Betty pouted. "Can't I even make a crack about you giving him a jump start?" Her eyebrows rose, then wiggled suggestively.
"No." Alice sipped her coffee. "There's nothing more to report."
The others sat. Mel crossed her legs and opened the file on the desk before her. "So far, we've picked up a few customers, but we need to expand our reach if we're going to make this business a success."
"Maybe we could have a few male clients," Betty suggested. "After all, we're all single, and trying to meet someone in a new town is difficult."
Alice licked the glaze off her fingers. In her father's garage she'd never experienced the sort of discrimination her friends had, but she knew it existed. Women had to prove themselves equal in every aspect of their lives. But when something went wrong with their cars they had to put up with being patronized — talked down to just because they didn't know the inner workings of an engine.
"We agreed we'd focus on attracting female customers. We'll have to find another way," Mel said, sliding a brochure out of the file. "Here's the final proof from the printer. I think we should target businesses that cater to women, leave some flyers around in places where women are likely to pick them up."
"Like the hairdressers," Alice suggested.
Mel nodded. "And I've been talking to an old friend who runs a local chapter of the National Association of Professional Women. They meet once a week and she's asked us to give a presentation tomorrow night."
"Pretty short notice," Betty murmured.
"Yes. But perfectly do-able. I'd like us all to go. Alice can talk about the workshop and the facilities we have in-house. Betty can discuss the car maintenance classes we'll be running. I'll explain how Under the Hood is different from every other garage and why we want their business."
Under the Hood had clients already. And once word spread, they would have many more. Women could be completely comfortable bringing their cars in for repair. There wouldn't be a man on the forecourt, mocking them for their unfamiliarity with a car's mysterious inner workings. In order for the business model to work perfectly they had one rule, and one rule only. Don't encourage male clients.
So, much as Alice's fingers itched to touch Mark's engine, it wouldn't be happening during business hours.
* * *
Mark sat across the desk from his twelve o'clock. His client's mascara was running, her nose was red, and she was sobbing quietly. He pushed the box of tissues across the polished mahogany surface until it was within reach.
She blew her nose loudly. Dabbed at her eyes. Then left the sodden tissues on the corner of his desk. "I'm sorry, Mr. Jameson. It's just ..."
"I understand completely, Melissa." He'd noticed that using his clients' married name when they were weepy usually had the effect of restarting the flood of tears, so he routinely addressed them by their first names. "Call me Mark," he added, pitching his voice low. "The end of a marriage is always painful."
Melissa waved the papers she'd been clutching when she arrived in the air. "I just don't understand how he could do this to me!" she wailed. "We've been together for twenty years, and now he says ..." She swallowed.
"He says he wants to move on."
Melissa raised teary eyes to his. "I won't have anywhere to live. And I gave up work when we had the children, so I don't know how I'm going to manage."
Mark pressed the intercom on his desk. "Can you bring us in some tea?" He waited for his secretary's okay, then depressed the button again to cut off the call.
"He wants to move on," he said again. "But you have an airtight case here, Melissa. You've been faithful, and over the years he's been able to advance his career because you have provided a safe and secure home for his children. There's no way you will lose your home. He'll provide money for your children, and I'll make sure to get you a generous alimony settlement. If he wants out, it's going to cost him."
When the meeting was over, Mark pushed back from the desk and ran a hand through his hair. Despite the calm surface that he portrayed to his clients, dealing with such strong emotions always wrung him out. Being a divorce lawyer was difficult. Seeing the devastation that a ruined marriage cast in its wake, the wrangling about asset division and money, left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Early in his career, he'd taken the case of a wife discarded for a younger version. Her rich husband had employed one of the top divorce lawyers in the country, a man renowned for his ruthless pursuit of his client's interests. When, despite this, Mark had managed to secure a good settlement, the word was out. The majority of his referrals were friends of that original client. Unfortunately, it seemed that the marriages of the country club set were destined for failure.
These women confided everything to him. Leaned heavily on him, and depended on him to fight in their corner. Everywhere he went, people expected him to be the strong one, the knight in shining armor. Mark sighed and stood up. It had been so refreshing this morning to have someone help him for a change. Alice. Capable and gorgeous, a pretty winning combination.
He pushed out his elbows, rolled his shoulders in an attempt to dissipate the lingering tension from this morning's meeting, then ran a hand across the back of his neck, rubbing the tight muscles there. No luck. He was wound as tight as new fishing line on a spool.
A glance at his watch confirmed he had time to spare before his late lunch meeting. He grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair and strode out to the reception area. His secretary, Janice, looked up from her computer.
"I'm going out for half an hour."
Janice nodded. "I'll handle everything." Her eyes telegraphed sympathy. "Mrs. Aldridge was in a bit of a state."
"Yeah." Having a client in tears in his office was a common occurrence, and his elderly secretary knew he needed to decompress after such a session.
Mark loosened his tie as he sauntered toward the park down the road from his office. It was a beautiful day, with clear blue skies, and the earlier chill had vanished. Summer was coming, and this year he would take time off and head to the coast for a few days. There was such a thing as too much work.
Excerpted from Under the Hood Boxed Set by Sally Clements. Copyright © 2014 Sally Clements. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsUnder the Hood,
Love for Beginners,
Racing the Hunter's Moon,
About the Author,
Discover more sweet romances from Entangled Bliss,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A fun collection of stories that were quick and easy reads. I loved the premise of the all-female garage and you could feel just how deep the friendship between these three women ran. I also loved the fact that the ladies were the ones who had to make the big move to win the man at the end – these were some strong women who once they knew what they wanted, had no problem putting it out there to go get it. My only real complaint was that the endings seemed just a little rushed, and, if I had not read these three together where you get to catch up with the characters from the previous books, I definitely would have liked to have had just a bit more ending to each of the stories. This is definitely a great box set to devour when you need a read to make you smile. Under the Hood: This was such a fun read! Both Alice and Mark are great characters and the story is sweet. I loved the idea of an all-female garage, and Alice’s two business partners were great. There was not a lot of angst, but just enough to keep the story moving along, and it was easy to believe the predicament that Mark found himself in when it came to his client vs. his interest in Alice. All in all a fun read! Love for Beginners: I think Melody was my favorite character. When the Ice Queen meets the Lady Slayer there are so many things that can go wrong…especially when the heart gets involved. Melody is convinced that Heath can help her “get comfortable” with men, Heath is convinced that Melody just might be the one he is looking for. These two had a bit of history since Heath is Alice’s brother and Melody has met him before, so even though things moved quick I didn’t get the insta-love feel from this one. And watching Melody realize that passion was not bad made this one really work for me. Racing the Hunter’s Moon: Betty and Joe were lots of fun together and I loved the road rally that they take part in. Things moved a bit fast between these two, and I did find myself a little annoyed at Betty taking so long to trust Joe, but these two were definitely meant for each other! It was fun getting caught up in the mystery and seeing Betty and Joe work together, although I did scratch my head when Joe admitted to being an undercover FBI agent so quickly. But overall, a quick fun read that also did a nice wrap up of the series. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sweet and simple
Under The Hood This is a super sweet story for Alice and Mark. I wish it was a little longer and more in depth because the two main characters are really likeable. But I understand it is a novella, and I really enjoyed it. They were instantly drawn to each other and were very real and normal, no craziness. Just a cute easy flowing story. Racing Under the Hunter's Moon I think this was my favorite of the three stories. There was something about Joe and Betty that drew me in. Maybe it was the adventure, or her insistence on being part of the plan, or his hesitant acceptance of letting her be, it the fun adventure they had. I just smiled several times during their story. The epilogue was very well-done and closed out the series perfectly. Love for Beginners I loved Heath throughout this entire story. He was charming, friendly, hardworking, and definitely interested in Mel, a woman not his normal type. Mel was a nice girl, unsure of how to be in an intimate setting. I enjoyed the camaraderie between Mel and Heath. They seemed to awaken a deep need inside each other. And it was the sweetest journey to each other with a heartwarming ending.
I loved all three books. Alice, Mel, and Betty are amazing characters. And their respective soul mates are no less interesting. I enjoyed the humor, the romance, the intrigue, and all the fun in thess three books. This box set is just amazing. 5-Stars: Under The Hood A fun and quick read. This is Alice's story. She comes from a big family and her brothers have always been there for her. Even though she loves her family but still she thinks it's time to start a life of her own. She wants to come out of the shadow of her brothers. So doing business with her two best friends seem like an awesome idea. Moving to a new town and meeting new people can be very fulfilling... who knew she'll find love of her life as well. Mark is perfect for her and she knows that she is going to be very happy with him. 4.5-Stars: Racing the Hunter’s Moon An intriguing and entertaining read. Betty is most fun. I loved her character and she also finds a perfect guy for her. Even though in the beginning she sort of hates him but soon Joe makes his place in her heart and in her life. And if they both solved a crime in the process, well that's just perfect. Pretending to be a couple leads to all kinds of trouble and they're going to find this out soon enough. ;) 4-Stars: Love for Beginners Interesting and romantic read. Mel has her heart safely tucked away. She doesn't believe in traditional definition of love and relationship but when she spends time with Heath her feelings about 'love' starts to change. But Heath is so not right for her. He is a wanderer and she has to stay put because her mother needs her. May be they can come to some kind of compromise or may be things will change for both of them and they will manage to pull off a relationship, a very unlikely one but it's what they want. Mel might end up breaking Heath's heart in order to protect hers... All three books are quite entertaining. I enjoyed reading this box set and would recommend to all contemporary romance lovers.
I have never had the pleasure of reading Sally Clements, but I am so glad that I was offered a copy of the Under the Hood Box Set for an honest opinion by the publisher and Netgalley. That does not influence my opinion one way or the other though. I can say that this will not be my last read by Sally Clements because I love the way that she develops her heroin's to be strong and capable independent women. The characters are very well developed and the story line flows flawlessly. These 3 books are not a series but I would recommend reading them in order so that you can appreciate them more. These 3 stores center around 3 women, Alice, Betty and Melody who own their own mechanic shop. I loved this profession for the women because we don't get too many women mechanic books!! Made for an interesting new twist! I also liked that we got a story from each of the 3 women so that we know a little about what is going on with all of them. I hope that there are more works in progress for these women because I came to really like them! Under the Hood In this short story we get a look at Alice and Mark. I think that this was a good story to sort of set up the rest of the box set. Mark is a divorce lawyer and is sort of gun shy of relationships because of all that he sees in his profession. When Alice stops to help him when his vehicle breaks down, he is shocked that she even knows what to do, more less that she stopped to help him. Mark knows that there is something different about Alice, but he is still cautious about getting into anything with her. When Mark and Alice progress in the story, things begin to happen that sort of change Mark's mind and he begins to wonder if there is a chance that he could pursue a relationship with Alice that will last?? A great quick read that will leave you ready to take on the next story. Love for Beginners In this second story we get some of Melody and Heath. Heath has come to help in the shop since one of the girls has had a mishap and has to be out for a bit (not giving anything away here). Heath also wants to fulfill his dream of becoming a photographer and in exchange for helping Melody with some tip on relationships and sexuality, she is going to show him some of her photography tips to help him progress in his photography career. Melody is not interested in sexual relations at all and is in search more for companionship than a relationship that focuses on sex. Melody knows that this is not fee-sable if she ever wants to meet the right person. When Melody and Heath start to spend more time together, things begin to ignite between them and Melody begins to wonder what it would be like to actually do something with someone. Her desire for some sort of sex spikes when she is around Heath and this surprises her. What wil become of the relationship between Melody and Heath? Will they conquer Melody's sexual fears? Racing the Hunter's Moon In the last story we get Betty and Joe. This was sort of a different story from the others but I thought that it was a good end to the set. Betty is after a con artist that stole money from her mother. When Betty meets Joe, and FBI agent, out to get the same man, they decide that maybe they can work together to catch the man they are both looking for. Joe has captured the man once before and let him go on technicalities, but now is on the hunt for him again. When Joe and Betty hear about a car rally that is taking place, they decide to compete in it to try and catch their m
This is a fantastic collection of books that tell the stories of three women as they work hard to make their auto repair shop successful while each meets the man that might just give them the HEA they are looking for! I read each of these stories as they were released. Each was a light easy 5 star read. You can't go wrong with them!! Under the Hood - A great novella that kept me totally entertained!! Alice, Mel and Betty are struggling to get their all women garage going. When Matt meets Alice he may not have been completely honest with her. Can they overcome their differences?? Love for Beginners - Very enjoyable quick read! Melody struggles with her confidence and desires when it comes to men. Heath is the ultimate player never taking relationships seriously. Two people couldn't be more wrong for each other but.... Racing the Hunter's Moon - Really loved this one. A light novella that leaves you with a smile. It is well written with a little romance and a little mystery making it a super fun read. A great way to spend an afternoon.
Melody, Betsy and Alice are not afraid to follow their dreams and break stereotypes doing it. I enjoy reading stories with strong female characters. A woman can be strong when needed but being vulnerable at times is okay as well. Ms. Clements shows the multiple sides of femininity with her Under the Hood stories. A fun way to celebrate the female spirit, with laughter, love and self - respect. Under The Hood - Alice proves it's okay to take charge of one's own destiny. Racing The Hunter's Moon - Betsy proves a woman can be her own savior. Love For Beginners - Melody proves a woman's heart is her greatest strength.