It never bodes well when it takes me literally two months to read a book, but that’s how long it took to get through Leaping Hearts. It wasn’t bad enough, like a train wreck, that I had to keep reading, but it wasn’t good enough to keep me intrigued either.
Arlington “A.J.” Sutherland attends a horse auction, and the minute she sees the rogue stallion Sabbath she knows she has to have him, but at what cost? Her stepbrother won’t let her board the horse at Sutherland Stables, so she moves out of her family home and takes the horse to Devlin McCloud.
Devlin was a champion rider until a devastating accident left him with a bad leg and forced him to put down his horse. He’d virtually abandoned the world of show jumping when A.J. arrives on his doorstep, begging him to help her train and board Sabbath. Devlin is wary of getting involved, but he is intrigued by A.J. He lets her in and invites her to stay on his couch. Soon both are finding a personal attraction that’s hard to fight and might just prevent them from making Sabbath a champion.
A.J. is at first likable because she sticks to her guns about buying Sabbath with her own money as opposed to company money. My admiration for her grew as she struck out on her own, and then she ruined it all by keeping a secret about her health from Devlin. Except for a childish determination to win and/or one upmanship over her stepbrother, her motivation behind this lie of omission didn’t make sense.
While Devlin had every right to be ticked at A.J. for keeping secrets, what got me was his reasoning for being upset. He couldn’t bear to lose someone he loved again, and who was the great love of his life that caused this: a horse! I know in show jumping a rider’s relationship with his horse is very important and special, but I’m sorry, the first time a man compares me to a horse I’m outta there.
Other quibbles have to do with logistics and plotting. I know the goal was to get A.J. and Devlin in close proximity, but I found it hard to believe that Devlin’s only spare space in his house was the couch. The man’s a millionaire, so why is he living in a cracker box? Also, I was more than a little surprised that A.J. felt she could impose herself on a man she’d met only hours earlier. The first night maybe, but why not sell some of her stuff and get a hotel room? These two things really had me stretching my disbelief.
As I mentioned earlier, Leaping Hearts is not the worst book I’ve ever read. The writing style is adequate, although it needs some polish so the flow is smoother. But the book features a contrived plot and unbelievable characters who failed to engage me in their lives. The result is a boring book. The only leap I’m inclined to take after finally finishing this one is down to the used book store to trade it in.