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Hot Wheels and High Heels
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although Jane Graves is a local author and one whose name I've seen on several books, I had not yet read one of her novels. When I saw the cover of HOT WHEELS AND HIGH HEELS I was immediately intrigued. The back cover copy offered humor and a look at the life of a repo man. I figured if the romance didn't hook me, I still had the adventures of stealing cars from people who didn't want him stolen. These days the action in a romance novel can be top-rate.

I'm a big Stephanie Plum fan. I had the good fortune of discovering Janet Evanovitch's books when the first one came out. So I was there at the beginning. I'm also a fan of some of the paranormal series that are out there. As a guy, I really don't think that's all that uncommon these days. Men read a lot of women writers. I still treasure my Robert B. Parker stuff, but I love the laughs and insights provided by the ladies. And some of them provide chills and thrills as well.

Back to Jane Graves. When I flipped open the book and began reading, I was immediately attracted to the ease with which the author puts words on the page. I was actually several pages into the story before I realized how much I'd read. The prose is effortless, and the characters are instantly unique and identifiable.

Darcy McDaniel, the heroine, has got a real problem. While she was down in Mexico on vacation with a friend, her husband sold her house, emptied the bank accounts, and ran up the charge cards - then vanished. For the last fifteen years Darcy has been a trophy wife. She traded her good looks to a man old enough to her father for a lifestyle of malls, manicures, and personal trainers. Later in the novel you'll find out more of her motivations for doing that.

I have to admit in the beginning I wasn't very sympathetic toward Darcy. It wasn't that I figured she got what she had coming to her, but I know other people who have much worse problems. Still, this is a huge problem for her.

Before she knows it, she's back living with her parents in the same small, dingy trailer park that she'd grown up in. It was suddenly like the last fifteen years never existed. All she has left is her dog Pepe and her Mercedes, which had been at the airport awaiting her return.

Enter John Stark, ex-cop turned repossession agent. And this repo man has papers to reclaim Darcy's beloved Mercedes. He's strictly a no-nonsense kind of guy who gets the job done right the first time. Unfortunately, he's never dealt with anyone like Darcy. She makes a fool of him and keeps the Mercedes. For a time. Then John returns with a truck and grabs the luxury vehicle with no problem.

As the fates conspire against them, as they are sometimes do in romance novels, Darcy gets under John's skin and he inadvertently offers her the receptionist job at his agency. Darcy refuses to take it at first, but quickly finds that no one else will give her a job. John's partner Tony holds John to his promise. Darcy starts to work, living hand-to-mouth.

Since this is a romance novel, the rest of the story about boy-gets-girl is predictable in many ways. However, Jane Graves keeps the story lighthearted, fun, and fast-paced. Despite the fact that I was certain I knew how the story would end up, I stayed glued to the pages - to the character development, to the dialogue, and to the rapid scenes.

That's one of the best tricks the author pulled off in this book: there was honest character development. Darcy grew as a character. For me, she went from being grossly unlikable to sympathetic and admirable. The changes she made in the way she looked at the world, herself, her family, and in what she thought she wanted were all real. I've seen people make those same changes for a lot of the same reasons.

Maybe the plot is the same romance novel that has been told for years, but Jane Graves makes her characters come to life in ways that many romance novelists don't. She makes the predictable a unique experience and worthwhile. Not only that, but her prose zings right along and readers will be at the end of the book before they know it.

As I said, this is my first Jane Graves book. But it won't be my last. She set the bar high in this one. I want to look at earlier books and get the sequel to this one coming out next year when she finds the right woman for skirt-chasing Tony. Pick this one up, folks. For the beach or just for fun. It's a good one.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tricky territory those contemporaries--how do you make a modern woman convincing in her need for a merely wonderful, merely mortal alpha man? How about having her tricked by a coniving hubby and left up a crick stuck like a bad movie mom from the 1950's? OK--then how about make the guy a cutie-cross between Robert Mitchum and a deeply romantic smarty pants say--hmm--early Warren Beatty? Well written, sharp plot and great setting and motivation for change from all characters. The trailer park scenes alone are worth the $$$ of the book plus the KEY differences between "TOWN" and "EAST" TOWN are a crack up. Oh yeah--the farewell scene to the Mercedes--I'm gonna remember that trick--just in case! Enjoy this charmer.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2007
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have been a fan of Jane Graves book ever since I picked up "I Got You, Babe". She never disappoints me so far.

"Hot Wheels and High Heels" tells a story about a trophy wife, Darcy McDaniel, who finds out her husband has sold their house, stolen money from his boss, and ran out of the country. After being married to him for fourteen years, nearly-40-year-old Darcy finds herself must readjust her lifestyle. FAST. Especially since her only possession, her Mercedez, is now being repossessed by one of the most infuriating man she ever met. John Stark, is an ex-cop turns repo agent. At 42, he is a man in control of his life - his no non sense attitude is what makes him good.

The spark between John and Darcy is right there from the beginning. This story is charming, full of wit and enjoyable situation that guarantees to at least make you smile broadly (if not chuckling in delight). It is such a fun read - and I haven't been this entertained with romance genre for quite awhile.

One thing I love is that in this story, the hero-heroine in their 40's - which is like "a breathe of fresh air" for me, in category in which usually the heroine is like under 25 and the hero is in his 30's. Though I'm only 28 myself, I'd live to read more mature relationship sometimes.

I can't wait to read "Tall Tales and Wedding Veils", a sequel of this book that will feature John's employee, Tony. He is such a delight in this book, it'll be great reading his story. Plus, the first chapter seems VERY promising :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Trophy wife Darcy McDaniel comes home from a vacation to find that her rich husband has disappeared, along with all of their assets. Not only are their bank accounts cleaned out, but strangers are living in her beautiful suburban castle. She is left with the clothes in her suitcase, her chihuaua--and her beloved Mercedes, thank God. But even that is taken away when studly repo man John Stark comes calling. Darcy's husband hadn't made payments for months.

Reduced to mooching off her trailer-park parents, Darcy soon realizes that her plan to snag another rich man won't happen immediately. She has to have some money for essential, like hair color and designer clothes. So she does the unthinkable and looks for a J-O-B. But she has no skills except looking good.

Eventually she finds an opening in the most unlikely of places--with the repo man. But filing and answering the phone pay peanuts; the real money is in grabbing cars, and Darcy is determined to learn the repo business. She can drive, after all. Sit back and watch the sparks fly as Darcy learns the value of a dollar, an honest day's work, and independence, and John learns that a high-maintenance woman might be just what he needs. This book is a tasty summer treat that showcases Jane Graves' talent not just for comedy, but for touching emotion as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hot Wheels and High Heels by Jane Graves is a funny, sexy and deeply touching story.

Darcy McDaniel, trophy wife comes home from a plush vacation to find strangers living in her home. Her husband has sold everything and left town. All she has is her dog Pepe and her sweet ride, a Mercedes Roadster. Darcy doesn't think things could get any worse then living in her parents trailer now, until she sees her car being stolen.

John Stark ex cop turned to the repossession business after he injured his knee. Normally repoing cars isn't all that exciting but trying to repo Darcy's car tries his patience and his libido. Somehow he offer's this crazy woman a job. John sets out to show Darcy how they other half lives but ends up falling for her.

Will Darcy break his heart when a wealthy suitor comes along?

Darcy and John are total opposites but in their hearts they have a lot in common. This couple will tickle your funny bone, warm your hear and fanning yourself over their scorching bedroom romps.

Hot Wheels and High Heels is an absolute must read. I am waiting patiently for John's business partner, ladies man, Tony to have his story. Should be a wild ride.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I laughed out loud so many times during this book and I'm a 'tough crowd' to entertain! Major bonus points go to "HWaHH" for the witty dialogue.

What kept this book from being a 5 star read for me was the low tension factor between Darcy and John. I like my romances a bit steamier. Also, Darcy's character got on my nerves a few times with some TSTL moments. There were a few too many 'convenient' plot devices used that had me rolling my eyes. John's character was not very appealing and I couldn't find much to love about him.

For a light and entertaining read, this was a great book. For a romance- not so much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this chick lit/romance, Darcy McDaniel went from riches to rags all in the space of a moment. She comes home from her Mexican vacation and finds out her husband sold their house, cleaned out their bank account, maxed out the credit cards, and even took her jewelry box. With nowhere else to go, Darcy heads home to her trailer park parents. At least she still has her beloved sports car and her pet chihuahua, Pepe. Unfortunately, her errant husband still owed on the car, and now she has to face the repo man.

John Stark's current repo isn't going as well as he planned. He thought he was immune to women like Darcy. Too late, he realizes his mistake.

After 14 years as a trophy wife, Darcy no longer has the qualifications for gainful employment in today's computerized world. Desperate, she takes a job as a receptionist at where else--John Stark's repo business. Jeremy Bridges is a multimillionaire "wunderkind" who used to employ Darcy's husband until said husband absconded with $300,000 of Bridges' money. He's interested in getting his money back, but he's also interested in Darcy. But is she desperate enough to take his offer? Or is working for John Stark more than a job? Either way, Darcy has a lot to learn about men--and about herself in the process.

Author Graves writes with charming wit. Her characters make you smile and the situations her heroine, Darcy, faces will make you howl with laughter. The only thing that gave me pause, was the simple fact that Darcy, having come from humble beginnings, should have been more familiar with how the other half lives. Instead, it seemed as though her excursions to a certain giant discount retailer were written as if it were a new experience. Fourteen years is a long time, but surely not long enough to forget or appreciate the lifestyle of regular folks. In spite of this minor nitpick, the book was an entertaining and delightful read.

Armchair Interviews says: Funny story--as long as it isn't yours!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Coming home to find strangers living there and all her things gone to Good Will does not inspire "good will" in Darcy McDaniel. Her husband has vanished, taking with him hundreds of thousands of embezzled dollars, leaving her high and dry, and ending her career as a trophy wife. With few skills and less experience, Darcy finds herself moving back home with her parents and the best job she can get is working for the man who repossessed her Mercedes, John Stark. Though the two butt heads from the moment they meet and have completely opposite tastes; she lives for Neiman's, Starbucks and all the finer things, while John is content with Wal-Mart, whatever coffee is on sale, and the simple life, there is a sizzle between them that neither can ignore. Darcy is also finding it hard to completely be immune to the charms (read pocketbook) of the millionaire who is offering her a ticket back to the good life, if she'll settle for being a mistress. This is the biggest test Darcy has ever faced as is forced to cram life lessons harder than she ever anticipated.

**** I must admit, I opened this book not expecting to like it and closed it cheering because it was wonderful. Darcy and John's chemistry is dynamic and sheer fun. Watching her adapt to a less than princess like existence is painful, yet humorous. Though none of the characters is perfect, as Stark points out, imperfect people are the most interesting. The pseudo-villain was not even perfectly rotten, and in the end, I found myself hoping he gets a story in which he gets to be the hero and redeemed. ****

Amanda Killgore
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Hot Wheels and High Heels, Jane Graves once again blasts the reader into a fast-paced entertaining read filled with zany characters and outlandish situations (which kept me turning pages until well after midnight). The characters are fresh and likable with flaws that give great reader identification.

Trophy wife Darcy McDaniel is happiest starting her day at Starbucks, shopping at the Galleria, and meeting friends for leisurely lunches at the country club. Life changes abruptly however, when her unimaginative hubby first sends her on a vacation then develops creativity in some most unexpected ways--embezzling money from his boss, selling their home with its contents, and running up all the credit cards before he disappears. Left with only her precious Mercedes, she ends up at her parents' ratty trailer park--only until she lands her another rich spouse who will treat her like the princess she is. Then she looks out the window to see a hunk preparing to repo her roadster.

Former cop John Stark likes to run things his way. The last thing he needs is the quirky, high-maintenance hottie who shows up at his business looking for a clerk job the day after he repossessed her car. He must admit, having a clerk who doesn't need to hum the alphabet song while filing certainly is a plus, but they lock horns over everything. Unfortunately, he can't resist helping her on her journey adjusting from Neiman Marcus to Wal-Mart any more than he can resist letting her into his heart.
Secondary characters, from Darcy's outrageous mom to her neurotic fluff of a dog, add to the fun. And the chemistry between the lead couple sizzles. So sit back and enjoy laugh-out-loud humor during this snarky romantic comedy with Jane Graves proving once again that love can happen when you least expect it and sometimes what you aren't looking for--may be just what you need.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Despite the fact that the lead character is named after my ex-wife (and ultimately leads a "happily ever after" existence) I found this story to be as charming and witty as Mrs. Graves herself. Having had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Graves at a recent writer's conference, I was compelled to pick up her book in an effort to better know the person whom I'd heard speak.

Thankfully, before the book reaches its "Happily Ever After" conclusion, I was able to vicariously watch as this leading lady went through hell and back, each time pretending my ex was experiencing something similar. (My own bit of mental voodoo perhaps!)

What I found was a expertly-woven tale, entertaining, humorous and smart. Graves has earned a fan in me. I'm not generally into the type of book Mrs. Graves writes, but she has shown me the light... and this book earns high marks in the Edward Book of Reviews!
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