Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Under the Hood by Sally Clements Boxed Set
Release Date: September 5, 2016
About the set:
Fall in love with three sweet novellas and meet three spunky, beautiful friends who find love in unexpected places. This special edition boxed set features all three Under the Hood novellas for one low price….. Read on to discover more about each novella, including excerpts and my reviews, and Sally Clements!
The first book in this trilogy set is . . . .
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…
What a brilliant start to this series! The characters are well formed and easy to empathise with, especially as the reader is drawn into the scenarios by the author. I loved the idea of a group of three women setting up a garage to cater for lady car drivers who are fed up of the attitudes and derision of some male mechanics is great. When Alice, one of the co-owners and mechanics at the garage spots a man with car problems, she jumps in to the rescue. She doesn’t realise he actually does know about cars and isn’t as inept as he initially appears and he definitely likes being looked after and rescued by Alice! The short novella still manages to pack in plenty of twists and turns into its plot as the two (and his sister and others) also have their own roles to play as his deception is revealed but love still needs to triumph over all. You’ll just have to read it yourself to discover just how everything works out – and it is a great introduction to the other two partners in the business who are the leads in the next two books in this trilogy.
An excerpt from Under the Hood:
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.
The next novella is . . . .
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 badguy 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.
This story has so many laugh out loud moments, incredible! Betty Smith has watched all the crime/police television shows to learn how to catch the conman who swindled her mum and she’s determined he’ll be caught and brought to justice. She’s tailing him when an unknown man warns her to stop doing so – and then kisses her to stop the conman recognising her! That’s just the start of their encounters as they end up working together to try to snare the villain but there’s a vintage car rally, some unanticipated secrets and possible dangers ahead as they pair up to participate in this adventurous race for love!
An excerpt to whet your appetite:
“Well?” Betty crossed her arms and stared him down. Her brown hair tumbled in waves over her shoulders, a strand or two slipping beneath the neckline of her white shirt as if caressing her creamy skin. Unlike most women he met, she didn’t seem to go for makeup much, judging by the light spattering of freckles over the bridge of her nose.
Her eyes were an unusual shade of brown; he guessed some might call them tawny or something, framed by long dark eyelashes. He hadn’t been able to stop looking at her wide, generous mouth, even when she was sniping at him. Fear had flickered in her eyes when she’d seen him in the kitchen earlier, quickly masked, but he’d recognized it instantly. When she’d tilted up her chin, met his gaze square on, and questioned him, admiration for the smooth courage she displayed had been his overwhelming emotion. After surprise so intense it verged on shock that Betty Smith and the woman he’d started to call Nancy Drew in his head were one and the same.
He rubbed the back of his neck. “I could ask you that question.”
“I’m Betty Smith. Friend to Mark and Alice, one-third owner of the Under the Hood garage,” she parroted in an echo of his earlier answer to her question.
Smart-ass. “So why are you tailing Charmers?”
“Who said I was trailing Charmers?” Her eyes narrowed.
It’s going to be a long night.
Joe pushed his plate to one side. “Look, we can do this two ways. We can continue to bullshit each other, or we can just be goddamn honest.” His jaw was clenched so tight it ached. He refused to break eye contact, or even blink.
“Fine,” she huffed. “I was following him.”
She might not have noticed him before, but her curves were so familiar he could pick her out in a woman-only marathon. “You’ve been following him for two weeks.” She wasn’t a professional, that was for sure. Her clumsy attempts at trailing Charmers had been driving him crazy. She kept a reasonable distance, but dashed into doorways every time Charmers turned, as though she’d been watching one too many cop shows. And when Charmers and Leonora had gone for coffee last Tuesday, she’d lurked on a table outside with the collar of her raincoat turned up, reading the damn newspaper, for Chrissake.
Her eyes were open so wide the whole white was visible. “How do you—”
“I’ve been following him for longer.”
And finally, the last novella in this set is . . . .
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…
After an accident results in Alice, one of the owners and mechanics at Under the Hood garage, being unable to work her older brother, Heath Starr, volunteers his expertise. He has had a reputation as something of a rake but events and experience as well as dreams can change someone’s attitudes dramatically. He’s coming to help out his sister and to give him a chance to follow his dreams to become a photographer, never expecting to be attracted to one of his sisters friends and business partners, Melody Swan. When she offers to help him find locations to take his wildlife and landscape images they’ll be alone in a rustic cabin . . . although they have mutual attraction Heath is only in town whilst his sister is incapacitated. Is it worth taking a chance on love for either of them? This is a fantastic finale to a fabulous trilogy and I really enjoyed all three novellas.
And a final excerpt to whet your appetite still further!
There was the sound of wheels scraping on concrete as the backboard slid, then an entire body came into view. Long, lean legs, clad in worn denim. A white sleeveless T-shirt, then Heath’s familiar face. He stood.
“Melody.” He rubbed a hand across his thigh before extending it. “Great to see you again.”
The touch of his fingers curling around hers jump-started her pulse. Hair as dark as his sister’s was fair tumbled over his forehead, half obscuring a black brow. Eyes the exact shade of Alice’s, aquamarine, focused on hers.
The scrape on his cheekbone barely marred the perfection of his face. No wonder women fell like dominoes whenever he was around.
Heath’s mouth curved. “You’re frowning.”
Mel snatched her hand away before she gave in to his megawatt charm and melted like lard in a skillet. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here.” She crossed her arms. “I mean, it’s the middle of the night—surely you have better things to do?”
The damned man’s smile widened. “I’m new in town, remember?”
The unspoken subtext was clear. He hadn’t had time to meet a woman yet.
With a wave of his arm, Heath gestured to the full garage. “There’s one hell of a backlog. I told Betty I’d pull a couple of all-nighters. Try to get it under control.”
Conflicting emotions battled within. She should be grateful that their temporary mechanic was so conscientious, so determined to help. Instead, she resented that he’d set out on a course of action without consultation. He’d told Betty… Not the actions of a temporary employee, but rather that of a man used to taking control.
Mel straightened her spine.
“You can help me out if you like.” His gaze flickered across the charcoal-gray jacket over a white shirt, the matching fitted skirt that skimmed her knees.
When his gaze reached the floor, a wave of heat flooded Mel as though she were clad in six-inch sexy heels instead of her stockinged feet.
She put the sensible shoes she’d been clutching down and slipped her feet into them.
“You might want to change.” Heath’s gaze slowly returned to her face. “Wouldn’t want to snag your hose.”
“I won’t be staying.” Desperate to regain a modicum of control, Mel took a step back. “I appreciate your dedication to the job, but I’m sure you won’t be required to follow up tonight with another night of work. You’ll burn yourself out.”
“I have a lot of stamina.” Heath brushed his hair back, the movement bringing her attention to his broad chest.
Before she knew it, the words were out. “I know. Ladyslayer.”
Heath’s mouth thinned into a flat line. “Are you comin’ on to me, boss?”
If you enjoy stories with feisty female leads unexpectedly finding romance in a very enjoyable story with laugh out loud moments, look no further – this trilogy has the lot!
Sally Clements writes fun, sexy and real contemporary romance, partnering hot heroes with heroines who know what they want, and go for it! She is a full-time author, who lives in the Irish countryside, and when she isn’t writing can usually be found in traffic, driving ‘Mum’s taxi’. Always a voracious reader, she considers writing for a living the perfect job—the only downside is saying goodbye to her characters at book’s end!