May Contain Spoilers
I wanted to read Run for the Roses because the protagonist competes with her Arabian horse, and she rides saddleseat. Do you know how many times I have read a book were the protagonist rides saddleseat? Maybe three, and I read a ton of horse books. Almost every book with competitive riding features hunters or jumpers, so I was stoked to read this story. I wanted to see how closely Abigail’s preparations and challenges stacked up against mine. Even though she competes in a different circuit because she shows Arabians and I show Morgans (and Saddlebreds), the run up to the biggest show of the year felt very familiar. I really enjoyed Run for the Roses, and I wished that it was just a little longer. At about 80 pages, most of the action takes place at the Youth Nationals, as Abigail is struggling to stay focused on winning what is essentially her last show. She’s about to head off to U of M, and once she’s in college, it will be very difficult for her to be able to afford to show.
The book is fast paced, and it was hard to put down. Abigail has devoted her life to winning at the Youth Nationals. She has given up friendships, boyfriends, and normal high school activities so she can concentrate on riding. To help pay for her horse and show expenses, she also works. At the show just prior to Nationals, she meets the guy of her dreams. Chase is gorgeous and charming, and to Abigail’s dismay, the older brother of her greatest rival, Sydney. Sydney’s family has money, and Abigail’s jealousy has colored her thinking of her. Because she comes from a more modest background, Abigail is used to dealing with rich brats who don’t have to work as hard as she does to be able to show, and she assumes Sydney falls under that category. She had tunnel vision with it comes to her competitors, and I liked how both Chase and Abigail’s sister Emma point this out to her. Her drive to be the best has isolated her, and has robbed her of friendships. Because riding and her goals mean so much to her, Abigail can’t see the sacrifices she’s made to get where she is, and I felt a little sorry for her. Not that she felt bad for herself; she is doing exactly what she wants to do, but if she had a slightly different attitude, I think she would have had more fun, because she would have had more friends to share her experiences with. Thank goodness she met Chase, or she probably would have gone a lot longer without making a meaningful connection in her life.
Run for the Roses centers around Abigail’s preparations to show at the Nationals. She’s one of the top competitors in the country, but she won’t be satisfied until she wins the roses. She doesn’t have time to be distracted by a guy, so she tries to ignore Chase, but he’s very persistent. When she lets down her guard and hangs out with him, she feels that her riding suffers, and she immediately backs away from him. The show is too important to her to mess up her last chance to win by being knocked off her game by a boy. I did get a little frustrated with her; couldn’t she just tell him she’ll call him after the show? Practice for her classes, do the best she can without him there to distract her, and then call him after she’s finished? Instead, she causes a lot of misery for herself because she isn’t willing bend, and because she isn’t willing to look at fellow riders as anything but hated rivals.
I really enjoyed Run for the Roses, and I felt an instant connection with Abigail. Shows can be very stressful, especially if you don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. By focusing solely on her placing, Abigail lost out on a lot of fun. I’m glad that she did finally learn that the journey is more important than the outcome. If you like horse books, don’t hesitate to give this one a read.
To finish off my review, here are some pictures of my former and current saddle horses, Blondie and Elle.
Review copy provided by publisher
Run for the Roses
Release Date: 11/2013
by Swoon Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Abigail Conrad has spent her whole life training for one goal: to win the roses at the Arabian Youth Nationals. She’s given up friends, a social life, and doesn’t have time to even think about guys — much less date!
Now that she’s headed off to college in the fall, it’s her last chance to be a Youth National Champion, and she won’t let anything distract her from that dream.
Except maybe Chase, the older brother of Abigail’s biggest rival. He’s charming, funny, and possibly Abigail’s biggest problem. How can she focus on riding when her mind keeps wandering to Chase’s green eyes and confident smile?
With her dream on the line, Abigail had better learn to fight her growing attraction to Chase, or she might end up losing the roses and the guy.
About the Author
Rachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.
1 – $10 iTunes Gift Card & ebook of Run For the Roses (INT)
3 – ebook of Run For the Roses (INT)