Dancing Shoes and Honky-Tonk Blues

Dark Roots & Cowboy Boots

Trick My Truck but Don't Mess with My Heart
by LuAnn McLane
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0451-22286-2
Witty, silly, intelligent and sexy are just some of the descriptions that come to my mind as I think about this book. I know some of those are incongruent, but the story is so delightful and the characters are so much fun that it is easy to use those descriptions and not have any qualms. Trick My Truck is lighthearted and just the kind of book that will take you away. It isn't a classic, primarily because of all the references to current pop culture. But it does come awfully close to a keeper and would definitely fall into the four and a half category if we had one.

Candie Montgomery and her sister Sarah have always been close. Sarah was the beautiful twin, the youngest by just a few minutes. She almost won the Miss Kentucky contest and would have but for a costume malfunction. Most people in the small town of Pinewood Kentucky have always assumed that Sarah's brain was as small as her heart and beauty was big. This included her fiance, Nick Anderson, who has been in love with Sarah almost as long as he has been best friends with Candie.

Candie is the athlete of the family and is known for anything but her beauty. She and Nick became friends and remained that way once it became clear Nick was in love with her sister. While Candie always wondered if it could have grown into more, she valued Nick's friendship and loved her sister. Candie left town for college and never came home, spending the last few years in Chicago working in advertising. Sarah and Nick went to the same college and are engaged to be married, or they were until just recently. When Candie arrives home to help with the family business because her dad had some heart problems, she discovers that Nick dumped Sarah, using the reason that he wants more from Sarah than just a beauty; he wants a friend like Candie.

This is not an auspicious beginning to Candie’s homecoming. Sarah is partly mad at her, the town is shunning her because they believe she somehow broke up this wedding even though she lived six hours away, and she is worried that she won't be able to sell any cars at her dad's small dealership. There are many complications - Nick and his company used to detail their entire inventory but Sarah fired him when they broke up. The local factory dealer used to send them some of the used cars they couldn't sell, but the father is retired and the son is less than willing to cooperate. Finally, Candie has to find a boyfriend fast so she can dispel the rumor of the break-up.

Good thing Tommy Tucker is in town, working as the Parks and Rec manager. Tommy was a couple of years behind Candie and Sarah in school, but he overhears their need and offers to play the role of Candie's boyfriend in front of the town. After all, he is a good guy and quite a catch, if he says so himself.

The story takes off as Candie tries to deal with the sales, getting Nick back in the fold and figuring out why Tommy makes her more than hot. When strategizing about the business, Candie discovers that Nick can customize automobiles and offers him the chance to partner with the sisters on a new business - customizing old trucks into classics. Nick agrees and they are off. Meanwhile, there is Tommy oozing sexuality. Funny thing is, he is also caring, cute, funny and hiding a lot of things under that carefree persona. Candie is drawn to him. Sarah meanwhile is undergoing her own persona change - finally realizing that there is more in her head than even she realized. Her metamorphosis is as much fun as Candie's growing relationship with Tommy, even though she is downright silly at times and brilliant at others.

This story is filled with humor, sexy interludes, relationship building and personal revelations. The interesting thing is that McLane achieves all this through Candie's eyes, as the story is primarily written from her viewpoint. That takes talent.

Trick My Truck but Don't Mess with My Heart is a charming tale that delights the senses and provides a stimulating and vastly entertaining reading experience. Don't pass it by.

--Shirley Lyons

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