I did enjoy this book set in the world of horse-racing – I’m an animal lover and a sucker for any story with a four-legged creature. Although I don’t ride, I love horses, and this book did not disappoint.
Jessica Boone’s skiing career is seemingly over after a severe knee injury and her wily, controlling and ruthless grandfather – her guardian after the loss of both parents – is keen for her to join his company. She has more independent ideas, however. She bets her grandfather that if she can last an agreed period working in the stable that trains her Gramps’ colt, supporting herself financially, he will respect her wishes and agree to fund her plans to run a dog kennel and not insist on imposing his own intentions for her future. The stables are run by Mark Russell – a good-looking and, of course, irresistible, trainer of horses. He and Jessica are undeniably attracted to each other. His efforts to try and keep her at arm’s length are impeded by her attractiveness, her personality, her unexpected affinity with the horses, her willingness and capacity to learn.
There is a smart thread of suspense that runs through this romance which is neatly interwoven into the horsey setting – there’s a murder, an attempted murder, theft and a potential terrorist threat. Bev’s knowledge or research of the horse world is impressive and credible – the pace of the story ran along enjoyably with the nail-biting horse races.
However, I did think this book was struggling to decide what it wanted to be. There was a fair amount of explicit sex in this – I don’t have an aversion to that, but this wasn’t an erotic novel – it was a romantic/suspense story and perhaps the emphasis should have been on the mystery side of it rather than the afternoon bonkathons.
My only other niggle – and this is personal, other readers might be perfectly happy with it – I just didn’t like the slightly irritating absence of pronouns in the sentences, a style which peppered the novel and made for rather jerky reading, eg:
“Flexing his knuckles, he turned, reluctant to look. Stared down the walkway.
She glanced at the thick-chested man next to her. Could see his program spread against the rail.“
Aside from that, I was smitten by the characters – they were caring and likeable, and it was hard to not to have a soft spot for the horses – Bev managed to give them endearing personalities, and I’ll admit I had the odd lump in my throat.
A satisfying and entertaining read.