I Got You, Babe

Light My Fire

Hot Wheels and High Heels
by Jane Graves
(Warner, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-446-61786-5
Hot Wheels and High Heels is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book. More specifically, readers will likely love or hate the heroine, and for 80% of the book, I couldn’t stand her. The hero, however, is one fabulous hunk.

Darcy McDaniel has been a trophy wife for the past 15 years. She traded her looks and her body to much-older Warren, who could give her a life of endless shopping, regular Botox treatments, and a fabulous house. She doesn’t love him, but what does that matter if he’s paying all the bills? Then Warren suggests Darcy take a few days and go to Cancun with a friend, and when she comes home, Darcy finds that Warren is gone. Not only that, but he’s sold their house, cleaned out their bank accounts, maxed out their credit cards, and taken her jewelry. All she has left is her chihuahua, Pepe, a luggage full of resort wear and her beloved Mercedes.

Darcy heads back home to East Plano and her parents’ trailer park. Lyla, her mother, nags her to get out there and find another rich man, while her father drinks beer and watches TV. Things couldn’t possibly be any worse. Then ex-cop John Stark shows up to repossess her Mercedes.

Darcy manages to trick him out of it, but later John simply shows up and tows the car away. It looks like Darcy will have to get - gasp! - a job, since she can’t possibly snag another rich man without the proper clothes and accoutrements. Darcy tries to find a job as a receptionist - after all, that’s how she met Warren - but since she can’t do anything useful with a computer, nobody will hire her.

Darcy ends up working for her nemesis, John, who is in desperate need of an office clerk. Meanwhile, it seems Warren has embezzled three hundred grand from his employer, a techno-whiz millionaire named Jeremy Bridges. Jeremy is determined to find Warren, and if Darcy wants another rich guy to pay the bills, he’ll be happy to oblige.

Darcy’s motivation for her life as a golddigger is that she grew up poor and her only asset was her looks. Her mother drummed it into her head that she’d better trade those looks for a wealthy lifestyle, and Darcy was only too happy to go along. Now that her life has been turned upside down, Darcy is forced to drive a rusting clunker of a car, live in a cheap apartment, and learn to take care of herself. Meanwhile, she’s attracted to the one man she can’t stand, or so she thinks: John Stark.

To put it bluntly, Darcy’s transformation to independent single woman just wasn’t believable. Fifteen years of calculated self-indulgence vanishes in just a few weeks. John falls for Darcy, but why? She has good looks and a hot body; we’re told he admires her spunk and the resiliency he senses underneath, but since Darcy spends a good deal of the book whining about her lost lifestyle and turning up her nose at life’s more mundane necessities, their romance isn’t believable either.

If only the author hadn’t piled on Darcy’s devotion to her lifestyle so thickly, this story might have succeeded better. Right up to the end, Darcy is looking for a quick way to return to her former life of nonstop consumerism. True, she has a few moments of satisfaction at scoring a rundown apartment and dressing in a wardrobe from Wal-Mart, but her eye is always on the Mercedes, so to speak.

John, on the other hand, is delightful as he delivers the straight truth to Darcy, even in the bedroom, and acts as a cheerleader on occasion. His partner, Tony, is destined to have his own story in the author’s next release, and from the excerpt, it promises to be fun.

Granted, others will likely have a different reaction to Darcy. I freely admit I have a low tolerance for useless females who believe their sole purpose in life is to look good. Darcy fell into that category for me, and her redemption never quite worked, but you may have a different reaction. In any case, I applaud Jane Graves for taking a chance on her. Hot Wheels and High Heels is a diverting read and may end up on your keeper shelf.

--Cathy Sova

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