- Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Nascar; Original edition (December 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 037321782X
- ISBN-13: 978-0373217823
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,000,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hart's Victory Mass Market Paperback – December 4, 2007
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About the Author
Describing herself as a woman who does too much but doesn't know how to stop, Michele teaches high school English, advises the school yearbook, writes for Harlequin, and raises two daughters and five spoiled housecats.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"And for those of you just joining us after the commercial break, fighting for the checkered flag are Kyle Doolittle in the Manifest Ford and Hart Hampton in the Number 413 Elementals Chevy."
"Those two have dominated the track today, Gus. Between them, they've led all but sixteen laps and have swapped the lead ten times."
"It's been a tight race, Malcolm. Both have had superb restarts. But this has always been Hart's track. He won here in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Hampton's hungry; he's been dry on wins since Daytona."
"And Hampton's Number 413 car starts to make its move, passing low inside as Doolittle goes high on Turn Three."
"Doolittle's car's loose! If Hampton can hold the low groove, he's going to take home his second win this season. Wait! Doolittle's scraped the wall. Sparks are flying! Doolittle's offand directly into Hampton. They're giving each other donuts."
"They seem to be locked. Doolittle's managed to get an edge. He's pulling ahead, but his back panel just clipped Hampton's nose. Now Hampton's loose! He's backward and into the wall!"
"He's catching car 510, Ronnie McDougal, on the rebound. They're now spinning into the infield grass. Wait! Hampton's caught McDougal wrong. He's airborne and has landed on McDougal's hood. He's rolling off! Whoa, he's landed upside down."
"A vicious tumble. The caution flag waves at Richmond, freezing the drivers in place with two laps to go."
"Definitely not Hart Hampton's day."
"Well, that ends that," Anita Wertz said with a resigned sigh. She reached over and ruffled her fifteen-year-old grandson's thin tufts of brown hair. Both had been watching the stock car race on television for the past several hours.
"Sorry, sport," Anita told Charlie, her own disappointment evident as her favorite driver found himself knocked out of the race. "Looks like Hart's not going to win this one and break his streak of bad luck."
"Hart was so close," Charlie Thompson said wistfully as cameras focused on Hart Hampton's wrecked car. Hampton waved once to show he was all right. "I'd even worn my lucky shirt."
Charlie glanced down at the green T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Hart and a huge 413. When she'd moved in with her daughter,Anita had gotten Charlie hooked on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and Hart was his favorite stock car driver.
"Hart needed this win, Grandma. He's already too far behind in point standings if he's going to have a chance to make the Chase. This might send him down to twentieth."
"I know," Anita said. She rolled her shoulders, her own racing attire moving as she shifted her sixty-three-year-old body. "But fate's like that sometimes. Maybe it's not Hart's year. The race winner will probably be Kyle Doolittle if he doesn't run out of fuel."
"I know," Charlie replied. He frowned for a brief moment, then brightened. "I guess there's always next week."
"That's the spirit," Anita said. Back from a commercial break, the newscasters were discussing the crash. Behind them, cars still raced under the caution as officials cleared the debris from the track. "You shouldn't worry. It's still early enough in the season for Hart to make a spectacular comeback."
"It's not over yet?" Kellie Thompson asked as she entered the living room and glanced at the twenty-seven-inch TV. The only view she had was of race cars going around single file as they waited for the restart. "Hey, what's wrong? Why the long faces?"
"Hart crashed and is out of the race," Charlie told his mother as he retrieved the glass of water and cancer medication she'd brought in. His attention remained glued to the events unfolding on the screen, the movement of taking his medicine rote. "He climbed out of the car on his own, but they're putting him in the ambulance now."
The television was now showing repeat footage of the accident. Kellie cringed, unable to imagine how anyone could have walked out of the crashthe car had done a complete roll onto its roof. She credited Hart's survival to his car's strong roll cage and NASCAR's safety standards, including requiring the track's soft wallsall explained in great detail by Charlie.
Still, just the force of watching what looked like a movie stunt had her shuddering. Unlike Anita and Charlie, Kellie wasn't impressed with the challenges the drivers endured every week. In fact, NASCAR wasn't really her sport.
But, ever since the new season had started in February, watching stock car races had become a sit-down ritual in the Thompson household every weekend, no matter what day or time the race occurred. Kellie hadn't minded, for if Charlie was well enough to watch racing that meant it was a good day, better than most.
Kellie shoved her son's medical prognosis into the far recesses of her mind. The unspoken rule was that any long-term thoughts of her son's mortality and other depressing topics related to his leukemia were banned on race days. Race time was respite time.
"That looked like a nasty crash," Kellie said, attempting to join the conversation.
"They've just announced that he'll be okay," Charlie replied, pale blue eyes so like her own remaining fixed on the television screen as he spread the news. All remained silent while they watched the caution lift. Kyle Doolittle crossed the finish line first, followed by Mike Turnfield, who came in second instead of fourth because Hart and Ronnie's crash had opened up the field.
The cameras followed Doolittle's victory lap as he carried the checkered flag, fist raised triumphantly through the driver's side window. Kellie used the moment to assess her son.
While "officially forbidden" to worry today, she still couldn't help but notice that Charlie seemed a little paler than usual. The last round of chemotherapy treatments had been particularly harsh on his body; Charlie had needed several weeks in the hospital to recover. Of course, she could pretend to be optimistic and pretend that perhaps his skin color was just an odd reflection of the incandescent light. It was after eleven p.m.
But as much as she'd like to say that Charlie's skin color was from staying up late or from a lack of Myrtle Beach sun, Kellie was a realist. She knew the truth, no matter how much she wanted to deny those facts or wish that her reality were different.
While survival rates for blood disorder cancers had more than tripled because of modern medicine, Charlie would never be like other boys. He'd been diagnosed at age seven with an acute myelogenous leukemia. He'd never played sports, played a musical instrument, or enjoyed other things boys his age did. He'd never attended school with much regularity, instead receiving homebound instruction for the past two years. He'd suffered through chemotherapy treatments, remissions that didn't last and bone marrow transplants and platelet transfusions that helped, for a little while.
In the past six months, her son had dropped much-needed weight and the result was that he'd turned pencil thin. His wire-framed glasses appeared too big for his face. His brown hair, often absent from chemotherapy, had returned thin and downy, but the strands were weak and broke easily. The evidence covered his pillow every morning.
"So are you both excited about next weekend?" Anita asked suddenly, as if sensing her daughter's inner turmoil and stress. Kelly gave her mother a small, sad smile that Charlie, still focused on the TV, missed.
Anita had moved into Kellie's small bungalow three months ago, just in time for the season's start at Daytona. That had been about the time when things with Charlie had taken a turn for the worse.
Although, right now, you'd never know his condition from the large smile crossing his face.
"You bet I'm ready for next weekend," Charlie said. He gazed over at his mom, his smile suddenly wavering. His blue eyes flickered once as he assessed her.
Kellie knew what he saw. She was thirty-five; her blond hair was twisted up unglamorously in a hairclip; and she wore a faded sweatshirt and blue jeans. "How about you, Mom? You excited?" Charlie asked.
"Yes," Kellie said, determined not to rob her son of any of his current joy. She'd been against the idea of going to the weekend camp for chronically ill children, but now that the date had nearly arrived, she gave Charlie a wide, reassuring grin. As he smiled back at her, her conscience eased slightly.
At this time, making Charlie happy and keeping him healthy were her main goals. Anita had finally convinced Kellie to apply to the camp for a family weekend. The camp, founded in memory of a deceased stock car driver, was race car-themed and specialized in kids with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Race fan Charlie had been thrilled, even more so when the acceptance letter had arrived.
"We'll have a great time," Kellie said.
"I went to the Web site and I can't wait," Charlie said. "Do you know that a lot of the buildings look like you're at a race track? I even printed out some directions. It should take us about four hours to get there."
"Impressive," Anita said with an approving nod. "I thought you only used that laptop I gave you to play video games."
Charlie made a face. "Funny, Grandma. You know I also use it for my schoolwork. Hey, I just thought of something. Maybe we'll meet some of the drivers. They do drop by. I saw the pictures on the camp's Web site."
"They'll be racing at Darlington next Saturday," Anita pointed out.
"Oh that's right." Charlie's expression soured slightly.
"You know, if I were going to be there for a week-long camp, there'd be one NASCAR-themed night and I'd learn how to change a tire."
"I'm sure there will be plenty of other things to do," Anita said.
"Yeah, but I'll miss the race. You'll have to tape it. I hope Hart wins. One minor accident won't keep him from driving next weekend."
"That's for sure," Anita replied. "Those guys drive under all sorts of conditions. Pulled muscles, injured shoulders "
"We're going to have fun," Kellie inserted, not wanting to hear about how heroic the drivers were. "Besides, with it being a family weekend, this way I get to go to camp, too."
"True," Charlie said. "And we haven't had a v...
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But things take a turn for the worst when, after a couple bad races, he's removed from the racecar and sent to a camp for terminally ill children. That's where he meets Charlie and his mom Kellie.Charlie's questions intrigue him, and he makes time to learn more about the inquisitive youngster. Kellie stays in the background, letting her son have the spotlight with his hero, thinking that after he leaves the camp Hart will never think of them again.
But of course Hart can't let Kellie go without a fight, and he's by her side when Charlie makes a turn for the worse with his illness.
I loved Hart and Kellie. She tries so hard to stay strong for her son, but every once in a while her mask would slip and she'd shed some tears over the injustice. Her husband left, and she has no reason to believe that Hart won't do the same. Only this time he'd break her son's heart as well as hers.
Their journey is a roller coaster of emotions, and Michelle did an incredible job of pulling me in. At times I felt like I was in the same room as the characters, and I was watching Charlie fight for his life right in front of my eyes. Their story made me laugh, cry, and rejoice in life and second chances. The writing was solid, the characters lifelike and complex. I will definitely be reading this one again.
Harlequin NASCAR Series Library
Kellie Thompson is a widow who's son has been fighting cancer for years. Since her mom moved in to help them, Sunday night became NASCAR night, a night to put aside health issues and for Charlie to cheer his favorite driver on. Their family joke when someone asked Kellie about dating was that she was holding out for NASCAR driver Hart Hampton. She never really ever thought she would meet the man in person.
After a crash that knocked his head a bit too hard, Hart's aunt grounded him from the next race and sent him to do some charity work at a camp he supported. One look at Kellie had his heart racing as fast as his car around the track. He soon found himself racing for a different sort of victory, trying to win the one woman who hasn't thrown herself at him.
The characters came to life in this book as the reader finds themselves sitting in the hospital room fighting along side Charlie and Kellie or racing with Hart. A story of dreams come true and real life battles.
When single mom Kellie Thompson and her teenage son, Charlie, attend a camp for terminally ill kids, they meet NASCAR driver Hart Hampton, Charlie's idol. Because of his illness, Charlie believes he won't be around forever and thinks Hart would be perfect for his mom. The two of them have had a longstanding joke that the reason she isn't dating is because she's holding out for Hart, the heart throb of the NASCAR circuit. Charlie seizes the opportunity and does his best to see that the two of them get together.
Hart has been in a losing slump and is coming off a wreck on the track. Although he wasn't seriously injured, he's been told to stay away for the weekend and do a bit of charity work at the children's camp. To improve his playboy image and repair public relations at the same time, Hart reluctantly agrees.
When he meets Charlie and Kellie he instantly falls for both of them. In spite of her attraction to Hart, Kellie rebuffs his attentions. She is one hundred percent focused on getting Charlie healthy. However, Hart doesn't take no for an answer. He easily wins Charlie over, then he works full time to gain Kellie's affections. His life may have revolved around auto racing, but now he sees what he's been missing - a loving family to share it with.
This book works on three levels - the romance, the NASCAR aspect, and the one I found most endearing, Charlie's fight for his life battling leukemia. This is a heart-wrenching, emotional roller coaster of a read. You will fall in love with Hart, just as Charlie and Kellie do. It doesn't matter if you are a race fan, this is one character-driven tale of love and devotion that will keep you reading long into the night. Keep the tissue box close.--Reviewed by Carol Carson Monk