Ride a Dark Horse
Take my advice and read every other page of this book. If you do, you’ll get a nicely paced, simple love story about a very young woman who is raising her orphaned niece and nephew, and an angry, handsome veterinarian who owns a fabulous jumping horse.
Cassie Miller is a talented rider who can take even the most difficult mount over the high jumps without qualm. Her Olympic hopes were cut short five years earlier, when her brother and sister-in-law were killed, and Cassie, at age 19, adopted their twin babies, Jamie and Sophie. This compassionate move cost her, though. Her fiancé didn’t want to raise somebody else’s kids, so that was that. It broke Cassie’s heart.
Dr. Caleb Wells, tall, broad-shouldered, hunkalicious vet, has sworn off women since his divorce from the greedy Pamela. Now, Caleb loves ’em and leaves ’em, without any second thoughts. He’s arrogant and cocky, and it took me a little time to warm up to him. He first meets Cassie when she’s changing her clothes. Her dress is over her head when he unwittingly walks in on her. He can’t see her face, and she can’t see his. They exchange words and he leaves, but he can’t get her super-fine athlete’s body out of his mind. When they finally do meet face-to-face, it’s only to discover that Hank Sawyer, Caleb’s partner, has hired Cassie to ride Orion, Caleb’s highly-prized jumper.
The remainder of the book focuses on Cassie and Caleb, avoiding each other as much as possible. There is a lot of sexual tension, and several near love scenes, but nothing physical happens until Caleb realizes he loves Cassie.
Above I mentioned skipping every other page of this book. Why? The pace is so slow, so dragged out, and so little happens, it gets frustrating. If you like vignettes of daily life on a horse farm, wish to learn more about training high-spirited jumping horses, enjoy the verbal interplay between adults and young children, you’ll like Ride a Dark Horse. I like all those things, but the action scenes are so few and far between that eventually I got bored, and I adore anything to do with horses.
Cassie is a nice heroine, very sweet and hard-working. She has a wealthy, protective brother, Alex, who is ripe for his own story. I liked the interplay between Alex and Caleb, and how they handle Cassie’s former fiancé. There’s a nice secondary cast (all of whom seem to be match-makers) and it’s obvious the author really knows her stuff when it comes to horses. The one major complaint I have (besides the pacing and length), is Pamela. Never have I read a more over-the-top, bitch-on-wheels ex-wife in my life. This woman was so shallow and predictable, you knew exactly what she was going to say and do every time she was on the scene. Bad people are human too, and it would behoove authors to give these “villains” a little humanity. Instead, Pamela is a plastic caricature and completely out of place when compared to Cassie and Caleb and the rest of the cast.
At nearly 450 pages, you’re going to have to like this book a lot to stay motivated through the whole thing without flipping page-to-page. Having said my piece above, I can recommend this book, as long as you know you’re in for a long, sometimes tedious, ride.