A writer as prolific as Nora Roberts is bound to have some misses among all her hits. For me, this was definitely in the miss category. Roberts doesn’t cover any ground here that she hasn’t covered before (and better) in other books.
Brian Donnelly is hired by Travis Grant to train horses. When Brian first lays eyes on Travis’ eldest daughter Keeley, he falls instantly, head-over-heels in lust with her. Keeley eventually falls for him, too, and their relationship slowly develops as Brian settles into life at the Grant farm. For storyline, that’s pretty much it.
Keeley was my favorite character in the book. She works tirelessly for her dream – her own riding academy – and wants to fall in love. She’s aloof at first, but is a passionate person, very stubborn and headstrong; some might say feisty.
Once you get past Brian’s cockiness, which comes off as quite arrogant, he’s got some good qualities, too. He’s stubborn, strong and loyal, and he loves kids and horses. He has a special way with horses, soothing them and talking to them until they behave. A wanderer who moves from job to job, Brian has commitment issues to overcome before he and Keeley can have their happily ever after.
Since this is the sequel to Roberts’ first romance, I expected something special, something that sparkled. Instead, this read like Roberts wrote it on autopilot. There are three character/plot cliches in the first 82 pages:
1. Working class boy meets beautiful rich girl who he thinks is a snob.
2. Beautiful rich girl meets working class boy with a chip on his shoulder about rich girls (rich girl is also a virgin who is thought to be frigid).
3. Boy sees girl teaching a riding class and thinks all the students are rich kids; you know they’re not.
Fortunately, the misconceptions are blown soon enough, but I really wished they hadn’t been there at all. Time passes quickly in this story – so quickly that I got lost a few times. I’m actually not sure what the time-frame was for these characters – days, weeks, months? This is a minor thing, but it bothered me.
I have to say, the racing aspects were enjoyable. Watching Brian shape the mare, Bad Betty, seeing him begin to heal, then watching him fall in love with Finnegan, a rescued horse, was very sweet and proved that Brian had a heart.
Overall, though, this is an extremely average story. However, if you’ve read Irish Thoroughbred (and I’ll admit that I haven’t) and you’re eager for the sequel, I am sure you’ll like this one. As for me, I’m going to go reread Waiting for Nick, part of the Those Wild Ukranians series and one of my favorite Roberts stories.