Caroline Tindell arrives in St. Louis for the thousand-mile 1905 Great Plains Automobile Race expecting a comfortable ride in her cousin's Pierce Great Arrow. Instead, she endures an unsettling encounter with the rogue who broke her heart six years ago, a seat in the back of the automobile with the luggage, and long moments of terror when the speeding Arrow plunges off the road.
Jamie Lenahan's brief conversation with Caroline before the start of the race evokes regret and painful memories. The way she left him years ago didn't surprise him. The effect she still has on him does. At least since her cousin roared off among the pacesetters, Caroline will be safely out of sight, if not out of mind, for the rest of the race.
Caroline is not out of sight, however. There she is, sitting stranded by the side of the road. What can a man do except stop and offer her a ride?
Much to my surprise, this book turned out to be part of a series. It is book three of the Sutton Family series. Book 1 is Beautiful Bad Man, the story of Caleb Sutton and Norah Hawkins and book 2 is Into the Light, the story of Deborah Sutton and Trey Van Cleave. I've read all of them and liked all of them, exactly in the order they were written. Beautiful Bad Man is a true western with the characters in the middle of a range war (which the hero settles almost single handedly), and of her books, is second only to Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold. My opinion only, of course.
The hero and heroine of A Grand Race first appeared in Into the Light. Caroline was barely there, but Jamie was Trey's best friend; they'd met during the Spanish-American War when Trey had a spinal injury. Jamie came home with Trey to help him recover and became involved with the new fangled automobile and now owns his own dealership/garage and is quite the rising young entrepreneur.
I don't particularly care for American historicals but I do like a good western, depending on the author. The best for me is Ellen O'Connell and Jo Goodman. They both create likeable, strong characters and yet they are not cookie cutter as some writers tend to do.
This book is not her strongest; for that I would recommend the two mentioned above. But we get to go on a road trip, watch a second chance love clear up old misunderstandings and grow, and knock aside a few prejudices such as Protestant-Catholic intermarriage.
Here is an excerpt from the author's website:
He paid for his purchases and pushed out through the door, jerking to a halt on the walk at the sight of the empty street. He had left the Franklin parked right there, Caro in the passenger’s seat.Heart pounding, stomach sinking, Jamie cursed under his breath. When he caught up with her, he’d make her the sorriest automobile thief who ever lived.
If he caught up with her. How long had he been inside?
How the hell had she started the Franklin on her own? Had she been lucky, or did she know to retard the spark and use the crank safely? Could she have figured it out from watching him yesterday and this morning, or was Cousin Percy stupid enough to have given Caro lessons on how to start an automobile? If so, Percy ought to be shot.
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