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VINE VOICEon July 3, 2007
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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VINE VOICEon July 2, 2007
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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on September 12, 2007
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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on May 26, 2013
I have read a few books by Ms. Graves and each one has been enjoyable. Of course, I happened to read them in the wrong order, but I will tell you this.... Each book is a stand alone story of its own.

In Hot Wheels and High Heels, we are exposed to a story about choices. Darcy was a trophy wife to a wealthy man, that is, until his criminal abilities left her in a situation that could put any person on edge. Faced with challenges as well as basically starting over again, she has to choose from two totally different ends of the spectrum... be a kept woman to a wealthy man or be a loved and desired woman to a working-class stiff. Basically, it is a story about tapping the inner strength a person never knew they had. When it comes down to John, it is a story about finding out what love is all about.

Very well written. Brought a smile to my face for some parts as well as tears. The only part that made this book just shy from perfection in my eyes was the ending. There were still things that offered no closure. Of course, one can assume how things end up, but it would have been far nicer to have the ending offering a solid conclusion. Call it "wrapped up in a pretty bow", but I felt it needed it.

Definitely recommendable to a friend and worthy of being read again in the future.
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on April 23, 2012
I loved many of this author's other works and had high hopes for this one but it didn't work for me. I enjoy books where the protagonists are a bit older (40s) but I found the heroine annoying and generally unlikeable. I kept telling myself that her character arc was going to somehow make her likable but all I felt at the end of the book was relief that I didn't have to read about her any more. I liked the hero a bit better but I never felt that I "knew" him and thus had trouble empathizing with him. Nor did I see him evolve in any way and by the end I only felt indifference. Also, the first half of the book was really slow to take off. I only persevered because I think Jane Graves' stories are great and I kept hoping it would improve. It did at the halfway mark, but with any other author I would have closed it and never picked it up again. Unfortunately, I would recommend passing on this one.
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VINE VOICEon July 21, 2007
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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on July 4, 2007
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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on July 1, 2011
I don't have much to say about this book other than this ...

The Walmart lingerie scene had me laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

I read it twice ... in 2 days just to keep laughing.

I love Jane Graves' writing style.

Buy it you won't regret it!
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on March 6, 2008
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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on December 7, 2013
First of all, this would not be my typical book to read. I had a friend offer to send me two books from her stash. This is a modern romance all the way, and it is filled with unrealistic, enjoyable romance!

Secondly, I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would. I will warn any reader of this book that there are some steamy sex scenes and they unfortunately occur between two unmarried people, but I suppose I did kind of overlook that portion of the book because it was so romantic! I loved the hero and heroine, and I also enjoyed the fact that it took place in Plano, Texas. I used to live near there, and I was familiar with the areas the author spoke about.

I truly enjoyed the fact that the two main characters were around 40 years old. I also enjoyed seeing the strength of the main character. Although this was a typical romance, the authoress is a gifted storyteller. There were a few minor twists and turns, and I read this very quickly. Once I was halfway through, I couldn't put it down.

There were a few "language" issues, but I will say it was minimal compared to some books I have read. I suppose the book held my interest because I wished that life were as simple as this. I didn't have to do a lot of thinking during the book--I was just able to enjoy it!
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