"Cut from the same cloth as a Jilly Cooper blockbuster."
"A gripping fast fuelled novel which is a compulsive read from start to finish."
RACING, RIVALRY, REVENGE
“Fast and furious from start to finish. A sexy fast-paced thriller.”
“A high-octane Jilly Cooper-esque romp with tyre squeal and sex appeal.”
Jake Golding is a kind hearted family man. Taking his son racing seems like a good idea until Max is scouted, and they find themselves catapulted into the prestigious British Championships.
Thrust into the adrenaline-fuelled world of motorsport, where wealth and corruption go hand in hand, marriages are made and shattered and sex is a weapon as well as a hobby for bored wives, Jake locks horns with Fat Frankie Finch, a notorious East End gangster whose son is vying for the title, determined to win.
Driven to the edge of bankruptcy and breakdown Jake is surrounded by cut-throat parents and team bosses who threaten to destroy everything he holds dear. Will Jake and his family be devoured? Or have they got what it takes to thrive and survive?
Driven is available as ebook and paperback. Free to read with Kindle Unlimited.
Book 1 - NOTORIOUS: Danger, Deception, Desire
Book 2 - ACCUSED: Stardom, Scanda, Survival
Book 3 - CAGED: Rock, Ransom, Retribution
Book 4 - DRIVEN: Racing, Rivalry, Revenge
Book 5 - FIXATED
Prequel: MADE: The Frankie Finch Story
Click to read the first chapter of Driven: Racing, Rivalry, Revenge
AN INAUSPICIOUS START
“I’m sorry, Ben,” said Rick Maberley, but he wasn’t sorry, and Ben knew it.
The fat fucker sat there in his expensive shirt, open one button too many, showing a Lothario’s amount of fleshy pink chest. His pitiless gaze locked on Ben. It was a gaze more suited to a mob boss than a businessman.
There wasn’t an ounce of humanity in that piggy face. Maberley’s words weren’t an apology, they were a challenge, a test to see whether Ben would dare react.
Would he argue? Would he get angry? Or would he meekly accept the news and thank them for having considered him in the first place? Maberley knew the answer already. After all, he held all the cards, he had all the power, that was why he was team principal.
The day had started so well. Ben had even been looking forward to this meeting. He’d been a little nervous, perhaps - after all, it’s not every day you get confirmed as an F1 driver. But they’d talked about this for months and today was just a formality to sign the contract for next season. What was there to be nervous about?
A rising star in the world of racing, Ben Redmaine had worked damn hard to get where he was today. The long hours, the sacrifices, the constant pressure to win and deliver, it was all finally coming to fruition. For the past year he’d been a test driver for Pernice Bianca Racing and, after their current driver had failed to curtail his increasingly public gambling habit, Ben had been given the nod that the race-seat would be his.
Pernice Bianca were only a small outfit, certainly no Ferrari or McLaren, and they only had a fraction of the budget of a big team, but this was Ben’s way in.
If he performed and got results, who knew what offers he’d get for the following season. This was his big chance. Either way, it was F1 baby! This had been the dream for as long as he could remember.
It was just before 10 that morning when Ben pulled into the car park, the car ticking as it cooled down from its sprint through the country lanes of Oxfordshire.
He strolled into the modern glass building, the smell of leather and car polish reassuringly familiar. In reception, with its immaculately polished floor, Ben passed between spotless historic racing cars and a case of gleaming trophies. He breathed in, relishing the surroundings. This was his world, where he belonged.
As he rode the lift up to the top floor, he took a deep breath, rolling his shoulders, and inspected his reflection, trying on a relaxed confident smile. It looked strained, unconvincing. A facsimile of his usual expression. He shook his head and snorted. What was he so worried about? He had this in the bag.
Rick Maberley gestured Ben towards a stylish, but uncomfortable, plastic stool and leaned back in his executive leather chair. It let out an unfortunate farting sound. At least, Ben thought it was the chair. Maberley was a porcine ex-racing driver-turned-motorsport mogul, who had run to fat since he swapped his driving seat for a large glass office some ten years previously. Ruthless and uncompromising, he was known as the Iron Hog, but only when he was out of earshot.
He steepled his fingers and flashed Ben a hard smile.
“Thanks for coming in today, Ben. You know we’ve been discussing next year for some time now and we’ve finally got an offer on the table for you.” He paused. “There’s both good news, and bad news.”
Ben frowned. Okay, well as long as the good news was the news he was expecting.
“You know how hard it is to compete as a small team in this business, Ben. We’re always stretching budgets, analysing where every penny is spent, and being the poor kid in the paddock is no fun. Having to choose between spending on development or producing spare parts isn’t where we want to be. This year has been hugely disappointing, a tough year for everyone, which was why we felt something significant needed to change.”
Ah, thought Ben, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, he wants to re-negotiate my wages for next season. They want me to stay on a test driver’s salary even though I’ll be racing. That wasn’t ideal, but he could make it work.
Maberley was still talking.
“The exciting news is that we’ve signed a major new investor. They’re making a substantial investment in the team, enabling us to compete at a higher level for the coming season. We may even be challenging for the top ten next year.”
“That’s great news, isn’t it? What’s the bad news?
“Well, Ben,” Maberley cleared his throat. “I’m afraid the bad news, from your point of view, is who that investor is. You know Ted Cavendish, I presume?”
Ben’s head dropped. His eyes briefly closed. Everything seemed to go into slow motion. Of course he knew Cavendish. Everyone knew Cavendish: the billionaire big oil tycoon whose son had gone from racing daddy’s Ferrari GT to winning F2. There had been rumours the kid wanted an F1 seat; in fact, they’d all joked about daddy buying him an F1 team for Christmas - after all, that was how he’d progressed his career until now.
Last year, Cavendish had taken over an ailing F2 team, staffed it with highly paid ex-F1 mechanics and ensured his son had every advantage, including an insane amount of track time, to ease him towards winning the championship. No one else stood a chance. It was whispered that his success had been secured thanks to favourable decisions from the stewards. Cavendish was a powerful man and everyone wanted to be on his Christmas list.
Christ, Ben recalled hearing that the kid had been on a round-the-world testing programme in an old F1 car over the winter. They’d all thought it was hilarious. It didn’t seem so funny now.
In a daze, Ben barely registered the rest of what Maberley was saying. It only confirmed his initial suspicions. He wouldn’t be moving to a race-seat; that would be taken by the incoming cash cow. And their other driver, who was bankrolled by the Columbian government and who had performed adequately, if not spectacularly, would be retaining his race-seat for the coming season. Of course he was.
They valued Ben enormously, he was an important member of the team, blah blah, and they hoped he would stay in his role as test driver. They were sure he could see that this was the best decision for the team, and this was a great opportunity for him.
“And after all,” said Maberley with a patronising smile, “you’re still young and there’s always next year.”
Feeling numb, Ben fantasised about grabbing Maberley by the shirt and punching him repeatedly in his fat, sweaty face. Then taking the uncomfortable stool and using it to smash his pretentious glass desk along with everything else in the office. That would feel great, up until the point where he was escorted from the building, sacked, and never allowed to set foot in a racing car again.
So, instead, Ben stood, shook Maberley’s warm, damp hand and, resisting the urge to wipe his palm on his trousers, forced his most corporate smile and told him he understood. They had to do what was best for the team. And if anything changed, he hoped they would consider him for the race-seat again. Hopefully when the rich kid had a bad accident in Round One, he added silently.
It was only when he got back to his car that he dropped the act. Out of view, he took his frustration out on the steering wheel, punching and shaking it.
Fucking wankers! Sixteen years he’d been working towards this, only to be passed over by some over-privileged kid who didn’t have an ounce of natural talent in his body. He was sick of this sport, it was full of sharks and crooks and all about money. Talent could get you so far, but when wealthy drivers were coached relentlessly and arrived bringing an obscene amount of money, he didn’t stand a fucking chance. He thumped the steering wheel again, accidentally making the horn blare.
From the corner of his eye he spotted a startled employee standing looking at him in alarm, her mouth hanging open. He smiled and gave her a wave. No, honestly, I’m not insane, I was just messing about. Nothing to see here! The woman waved back tentatively and walked hurriedly towards the office. Ben took a few calming breaths.
OK, so he was stuck in the simulator for another year, at least. Hopefully it was just a temporary setback. That’s if he ever got a shot at a race-seat again once it became known he’d been passed over for someone straight out of a junior formula.
He rubbed his face.
Not only would he have to sit on the sidelines and watch his new teammate under perform and fuck-up the drive that should have been his, but he’d be working hard to provide valuable data from the sim to help the fucker improve. His job would be coaching and facilitating the gilded cash cow, so he didn’t make the team look too bad. Great.
Perhaps the season didn’t need to be a total write-off, though.
Ben pulled out his phone, scrolling through his contacts for a number he never thought he’d need to call. He took a moment to calm himself and get into charm mode. By the time the call connected, he sounded confident and relaxed.
“Hugo, it’s Ben Redmaine,” he drawled. “Sorry it’s taken a few weeks to get back to you about your offer. I wanted to think things through, to be sure I could give this 100%. I’ve managed to re-shuffle a few things and my answer is yes, I’ll do it.”
He contemplated the fabric on the ceiling of the car while Hugo droned on about his plans for the coming year.
After a few minutes Ben interrupted. “Yes, absolutely Hugo. That sounds great. I’d better dash, I’m just going into a meeting, but I’m excited to get started. See you next week.”
Ending the call, he slumped back and let out a heavy breath. Thank goodness he’d had a backup plan. If Pernice Bianca weren’t going to do anything to help him, he’d do something to help himself.
Besides, he was going to have a lot more time on his hands this year than he’d planned. He might as well put it to good use.