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Hot Wheels and High Heels    by Jane Graves order for
Hot Wheels and High Heels
by Jane Graves
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Darcy McDaniel returns from a Mexican vacation and is horrified to learn that her accountant husband embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer and then left town in a big hurry. Unfortunately, before flying the coop, he also cleaned out their joint accounts and sold their mansion with all Darcy's worldly possessions still inside. Now all she has left are a few measly travelers cheques, her beloved Mercedes sport car and her neurotic little dog, Pepe. Darcy's dire situation forces her to move back into her parents' trailer, where she has to listen to her neurotic mother blaming Darcy for the whole fiasco. Lyla is quick to point out that Darcy was, after all, about to turn forty: obviously she'd let herself go and her husband found satisfaction elsewhere. Darcy's first objective, Lyla goes on to say, is to find herself another rich husband pronto, before she loses her looks altogether.

Ex-cop John Stark figures re-possessing Darcy's nifty little vehicle will be a snap. That is, until the lady in question throws herself in front of her beloved car and then proceeds to trick him out of the extra set of keys. Furious that a high maintenance bit of blonde fluff has outwitted him, he's more determined than ever to re-possess her car, collect the hefty fee, and in so doing, take the luscious Ms. McDaniel down a notch or three. But as their paths continually cross, she manages to alternately surprise him or aggravate the hell out of him. Eventually, Darcy is working alongside John as his receptionist and nagging him to train her as his assistant repo-agent. As she struggles to reinvent herself and begins to learn that life does not revolve around how much money's in the bank nor how many credit cards are tucked away in her Prada handbag, he begins to realize that the spunky hellion is much more complicated - and alluring - than he imagined.

Jane Graves tells a sassy, smart and charming story in Hot Wheels and High Heels. Both her leads have numerous flaws, which the author works to the story's advantage, particularly in Darcy's case. Initially she's presented as a product of her upbringing and is rather annoying as she reveals her rich, pampered mindset. But, forced to confront her new reality, Darcy experiences considerable growth. John too, is far from perfect - an incredibly stubborn man who believes it's his way or the highway. The leads' sexual chemistry smokes and their snarky banter - as they lock horns over just about everything - alternates between hilarious and touching. A fine cast of secondaries adds to the fun, particularly Darcy's really, really annoying mother Lyla and scheming Jeremy Bridges, the billionaire whose accounts were ransacked by Darcy's husband and who comes to covet the former trophy wife. If you're in the mood for breezy romantic fun, then Hot Wheels and High Heels has all the right ingredients.

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