Romance novel meets NASCAR thriller in Janet Evanovich's Motor Mouth. Nextel Cup driver Sam Hooker is not accustomed to losing, particularly not to flashy loudmouth Dickie Bonnano, but that is just what has happened, and in rather spectacular fashion. A late race accident cut the number of competitive cars down to just two, and the finish was a nail-biter. Still, Hooker lost the race, and with it the points required to win the series. But there may have been some chicanery at the track: NASCAR teams are legendary for their abilities to bend the rules dealing with car specifications, and there is some evidence that Hooker's competitor may have had a little help with his skid control, courtesy of a tiny computer chip fired by remote control from the stands. The action is narrated by Hooker's on-again/off-again (but currently off-again) girlfriend, Alexandra Barney Barnaby, who works for Hooker's race team as a spotter, the person in the stands who keeps the driver informed by radio. Hooker is a Southern boy, a bit of a womanizing rube, but an engaging foil for Barnaby. Their repartee, particularly under duress, provides most of the comic moments of the book, as well as serving as a cornerstone for their tenuous (but nonetheless intense) relationship. Evanovich got her start writing romance novels, and it shows strongly in Motor Mouth. That said, there are enough fast cars and buxom babes to keep the boys happy too.

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