HQN, $6.99, ISBN 0-373-77103-7
Contemporary Romance, 2006
Unlike the sugary sweetness in the previous book of Pamela Britton’s NASCAR series, On the Edge has some angst and issues on the parts of both the hero and the heroine. The trouble is, while the hero’s redemptive arc makes some breathtaking read, the heroine’s issues sorely test my patience because they feel so artificial and forced as a mean to prolong the story. Add in a monster kiddie who often sounds too wise for her years and On the Edge can be one bumpy ride.
The said monster kiddie, the ten-year old Dakota Fanning-wannabe named Lindsey Drake, shows up at the doorstep of our heroine Rebecca Newman, asking her to take her father Adam as a driver for the Newman Motorsports that Becca has inherited from her late husband. Lindsey knows of Becca’s open call for drivers, you see. Becca is trying to get the NASCAR team out of its financial doldrums and boost its performance record. She is willing to give Adam a try when the man shows up to collect his daughter. Adam feels that he’s too old for NASCAR. He has once dreamed of being a NASCAR hero but his dreams have to be put on hold when his wife left him and he becomes a single father.
Adam, of course, will be the new Rocky of the Race Circuit. That part of the story, along with the glimpses into the behind-the-scenes workings of a race track tournament, is the best thing about On the Edge. Adam’s storyarc has an underdog-to-hero vibe that is very well-written. It is very easy for me to cheer him on.
However, Adam becomes top dog quickly enough so all that’s left is the romance. This is the weakest aspect of the story because for the most part, both characters, especially Becca, can act out of character just to introduce or prolong a conflict. Becca has all kinds of reasons as to why she cannot be with Adam. The reasons are pretty predictable. Her previous marriage! Newman Motorsports! Her self-esteem! She often goes hot and cold with no rhyme or reason. Then there is the monster kid who acts cute when the author wants her to be cute and then sprout sage advice eeriely like an adult who makes it an obsession to memorize the saying on every greeting card in existence. Lindsey is a very transparent matchmaking plot device and a supremely annoying one as well.
At the end of the day, On the Edge works when it is being Adam’s story of becoming the new hotshot of NASCAR. Unfortunately, the romance feels contrived and fake with all kinds of methods to prolong the story introduced in a blatant manner. This story works better as Adam’s story alone. This doesn’t really say much about this book as a romance novel, does it?