Gabriel Sharpe loves to race and when he does he pushes it to the edge. Despite the death of his best friend while "threading the needle" during a race against him hasn't stopped him. But his grandmother's ultimatum to marry before the end of the year has forced his hand to make a decision. He'll offer marriage to Virginia Waverly, his best friend's sister, and absolve himself from the guilt from his part in his friend's death and give Virginia a home to live in. First he has to convince her she doesn't hate him or to insist that he race her.
Virginia Waverly has hated Gabriel Sharpe since the death of her brother. She's blamed him for encouraging a drunk man to race and has waited for the day for his wicked ways to catch up with him. In an attempt to prove to him that he's not as good as he thinks he is, she challenges him to a race. What she doesn't count on is his stipulation to the race: if he wins, he can court her. If she wins, they'll race again on the track that cost her brother his life. Can she win against the Angel of Death when he pulls out all the stops?
I adored both these characters. Victoria was a strong woman who has made the most out of the cards she's been dealt. She runs her grandfather's house and help with his stud farm without complaining. She figures this is the best it's going to get, she'll make the best out of it. While she's hated Gabriel because of her brother's death, she's not so blinded by that hate to figure out that Gabriel may not be the person she thinks he is. She was able to admit when she was wrong about him and admit that she wasn't truly happy with how she had been living either. Once Gabriel points that out to her, she realizes that he's the only person that truly see her.
Gabriel is one of those characters you want to shake to knock some sense into him, hug to soothe all that hurts him and jump on to have your wicked way with him all at once. He's wonderfully complex and makes you want to dig through his layers to get to the squishy center. He carries the weight of the insecurities that have developed since the death of his parents and the guilt of having a hand in the death of this best friends. He fears love because everything he loves is stripped away from him. It takes a strong woman to stand up to him and show him it's ok to let go of the past and look forward.
In addition to Gabe and Victoria's story, we delve deeper into the mystery of the death of the Sharpe parents. Seems something wicked was afoot at Halstead Hall nineteen years ago. Can't wait for the completion of that sub-plot in Celia's story.