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Book Reviews: Under the Hood and Love for Beginners by Sally Clements

Under the Hood is the first book in Sally Clements Under the Hood series. Under the Hood is an auto body shop run by three friends, Alice, Melody, and Betty.  They have started their all-female shop for women, so they have a place to take their cars to be serviced with out being made to feel inferior to the men who dominate body shops.

Alice is up first in this quick, fun, and sweet novella. She meets her neighbor Mark and believes he needs her help in fixing his car. Mark knows cars, but likes the idea of being rescued and hides his knowledge from Alice. Mark has just about convinced Alice that she can fit a relationship into her busy schedule when his business threatens their budding romance.

Mark is a divorce attorney and he represented his Aunt in her divorce from the owner of the garage that Alice and her friend are renting.  The Aunt is not thrilled with this set up and is threatening actions that would close Under the Hood. Mark now has to figure out to diffuse this situation, tell Alice he knows about cars, and manage to keep a relationship going.

Business is picking up at Under the Hood and Alice has all the work she can manage.  That's why is horrible timing when on a hike with Mark she hurts her ankle. Good thing she comes from a family of mechanics.

Next up is Love for Beginners.

Since Alice is sidelined her brother Heath shows up to help.  He's the oldest of Alice's siblings and is expected to take over his father's shop back home.  While he doesn't mind working on cars Heath's passion is photography.  He's taking this trip to help his sister as a chance to make a big move in making his passion his profession.

Melody isn't thrilled by Heath's arrival but she isn't completely upset by it either.  She thinks this is the perfect opportunity to get some experience in the physical aspect of relationships. She'll show Heath some great nature spots for his photography in exchange for some 'right now' time with him.

Heath has a chance to shoot photographs for a friend who's writing a piece for National Geographic. He really wants this opportunity but he wasn't expecting to fall for Melody. Melody is trying to balance running the business, selling her home, and taking care of her mom.  A relationship just doesn't work, but in the future she wants a committed relationship with someone who sees eye to eye with her, it doesn't even have to be physical.

Both of these stories were sweet romances. I enjoyed the break from the typical romance novels I read which sometimes seem to be sex scenes every chapter. These focused on the building of relationships and the idea that love does have a place in our crazy busy lives.  I liked that Mark was the kind of character who was okay with a woman helping and didn't try to prove macho. I thought Heath was a perfect gentleman in pursuing Melody and she wasn't the stereotypical 'ice princess' sometimes portrayed in stories.


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