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Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List: Kiss The Bricks by Tammy Kaehler

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR

Happy Motorsports May everyone! I am obviously a huge fan of motorsports in general- not just NASCAR although NASCAR the main focus of this blog.  So May is a big month in the motorsports world. I am pleased to say as a reader I have also been looking forward to May. Why? Because one of my favorite author’s was releasing a book today and I know you are going to LOVE it.

Speaking of readers- some of my fellow readers might understand this feeling I get. It’s a feeling of incredible anticipation that the next new book by a beloved author until that moment when you finally have said new book in your hands only to then experience a fairly significant dread about the fresh book in hand.  What if the book isn’t all that I hoped it would be? What if, gasp, I don’t like it? What if my high expectations are disappointed? Maybe I am alone in these feelings but I have them quite frequently with my “beloveds” as I call them when they have a release day.  I don’t get it when I am reading a new-to-me author because I usually go into those books with low expectations. But I hold my “beloveds” to a higher expectation and then I worry that I am setting myself up for a big disappointment.  Am I the only one?

This feeling of dread hit me when I pulled out the advanced readers copy of the latest Kate Reilly mystery Kiss The Bricks by Tammy Kaehler from the package.  I have loved all the previous books in the Kate Reilly series and I always greatly anticipate the next book in the series.  For those who are unfamiliar with the series- each book takes place entirely during a race weekend (or weeks in this case). My anticipation/dread was really two-fold for Kiss The Bricks. Not only is it the next book in the series about racer Kate Reilly but it also takes place during the weeks preceding and including the Indianapolis 500 (which takes place in real life at the end of this month). It’s an iconic race and so much could go wrong. But luckily this book did not disappoint me in either aspect.

“Racecars make it all better, even if they’re not running.”Kiss The Bricks by Tammy Kaehler

Kiss The Bricks follows our heroine, Kate Reilly, a female racer in the Indycar Series (if you haven’t read the series you should- while the books could read as stand alones- I really think that you would be doing yourself a disservice not to read from the beginning because you get to watch Kate develop as a driver and a person through the span of the books) during the month of May.  We begin with Kate pulling into the pits from her first practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway confused why everyone around her suddenly seems out of character. Bald John is unusually fumble-fingered helping her get out of the car, her PR person greets her as she get out of the car with her water and towel- when usually a crew member does that. Something is definitely off and she feels it right away.  What she doesn’t expect is the reason WHY- that she was the fastest in first practice.

Of course Kate barely has time to comprehend what her accomplishment means when she is bombarded by media a the track- some even suggesting she was the first woman in the track’s history to attain the feat. They are quickly put in their place by a mechanic on her team- known as “Uncle Stan” who kindly reminds the media that a couple of decades prior to Kate a young female racer also was fastest in first practice- a woman named PJ Rodriguez.

At first Kate is just curious to find out more about PJ but is surprised to quickly find out  that not only did she not make it to the race that year- PJ ended up jumping to her death from the roof of a downtown Indianapolis hotel just days before the running of the biggest auto race in the United States.  Inevitably the media begins to compare Kate and PJ. And Kate, feeling somewhat of a kinship with PJ being a young female racer, struggles to comprehend why PJ would struggle as far as she did only to end it abruptly by her own hand all while dealing with not just the crazy day-to-day driver commitments the Indy 500 requires and work with the crew to make the car better, but also has to deal with the media and fan comparisons between her and PJ.

In an effort to quell the media circus surrounding Kate about PJ a press conference is arranged that includes both Kate and PJ’s mom and brother in the track media center. It’s here that Kate really starts to consider that maybe PJ didn’t jump but was in fact pushed to her death. And it’s here that I am going to stop with the recap of the novel as to keep the main storyline spoiler free. I will say that I believe that this novel will work well as a stand alone- however I think you are cheating yourself out of complex subplots and character development that span the series so if Kaehler is a new-to-you author you might want to start at the beginning. I promise if you do you will find the series a much richer experience.

“Women can tear each other down in ways men can’t even approach.” Kiss the Bricks by Tammy Kaehler

The character of Kate Reilly is such a realistic well rounded (ie well written character) both as a person and as a racer. There is just something about Kate that I can relate to on a personal level and to me that is what makes a great book. I always find myself rooting for her both in the race and in solving the mystery of the book, but also in her life as she details it to us readers. Entwined within both the mystery of the story and the excitement of the race is the rest of what makes Kate so realistic. How she personalizes the comparisons to PJ, how she relates to other drivers including her nemesis (and fellow female driver) Sofia Montalvo, how she deals with family and friends- it’s all so lifelike and it really makes her a down-to-earth character despite the circumstances she usually finds herself in. I know I have made the comparison of Kaehler’s Kate Reilly to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone character before and this book only solidifies that comparison to me as a strong, yet affable female heroine.

Kiss the Bricks does not disappoint either in the type of stories I have come to expect from Kaehler as a long time fan of the Kate Reilly series nor in the the handling of what in unquestionably the most iconic motorsports event in the United States. Mystery fans and motorsports fans alike will love this book. And if you happen to be a mystery-loving motorsports fan like myself then Kiss the Bricks (and again I plead that if this is you that you read the whole series) is definitely in your wheelhouse.

About the author: Tammy Kaehler is a freelance writer and former technical writer who was introduced to racing during a corporate marketing stint. This inspired her Kate Reilly mystery series. She lives in southern California with her husband and many cars. You can also follow her on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC):

I received a copy of Kiss The Bricks from the author for the possibility of review on this blog. The words and opinions on this book are my own. Don’t believe me? I loved the book so much I pre-ordered the ebook format before receiving the advanced reader’s copy as soon as it was available on Amazon. 

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List

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