May Contain Spoilers
Ah, yet another horsey book! Like the others I have read this month, I was pleased with the accuracy regarding routine horse care and competition details. The book deserves high marks for that, and I enjoyed Amanda’s tenure as the riding instructor of two very spoiled girls. Neither of them really wants to learn to ride, and when Amanda’s first move is to replace the spirited horses their clueless movie star father purchased for them, they declare the reliable replacements “ugly” and refuse to ride them. Yup, those steady rocks of instructional safety are rarely known for their good looks, regardless of how badly Grady wants the girls’ first mounts to be as beautiful as My Little Pony.
While I loved Amanda’s efforts to teach her young charges the importance of compassion for one’s horse, as well as how to safely ride, I wasn’t so thrilled with Grady, the hero of the story. He’s kind of an ass. He’s a distant father at best, and even though he longs for a closer relationship with his girls, he just can’t break away from work, or his bloated ego, to make time for them. Instead, he uses what little time they do spend together overindulging them, fearful of making them hate him by being the authority figure that they desperately crave. When Amanda butts heads with him, she forces herself to back away from out right conflict and to treat Grady like a young, green horse at its first show. Be positive, but firm, and always end on a good note. Make the horse want to do what you’re asking, and remember to praise, praise, praise. Amanda is down to her last buck, and she desperately needs this job, so she isn’t ready to throw it all away by being confrontational with her employer. She’ll do what he asks, even though she’s against it, but she’ll do it her way. I liked her resolve, and how she used her training techniques to get both the girls and Grady to stop and think about their actions. Thumbs up to Amanda for keeping her cool, and for knowing when to bend and how to do it and to still achieve her objective of keeping Grady’s girls safe and teaching them to be respectful of the horses and of others’ feelings.
Getting back to Grady – he is obsessed with keeping his girls safe from harm, which made me wonder why on earth he would allow them to engage in such a dangerous activity as horseback riding to begin with. Jumping, no less! This guy made no sense. When Amanda pointed out how slippery the barn floor was, and that it was an accident waiting to happen,h e pretty much blew her off until someone was hurt. That didn’t make much sense considering how adamant he was concerning his daughters’ safety. When one of them is injured while they are playing in the yard, Grady blames Amanda for the mishap. His hot and cold treatment of her annoyed me as well. After declaring his how much he likes her and wants to get to know her better, he listens to his mother about Amanda’s past breakdown after the death of her friend. He accuses her of being unstable and untrustworthy, and he doesn’t believe that she won’t have an episode and injure his girls. Ugh, Really? Amanda had proven herself, time and time again, by the time Grady’s harpy of a mother decides to stick her beak in his business. After he takes her side and no longer allows Amanda to stay on his property unless she’s giving lessons, I pretty much lost all respect for him. He never won me back over. It’s a good thing Amanda was much more forgiving than I am.
The romance is very slow to develop, but I didn’t find that as bothersome as Grady’s behavior. To sum up my feelings about this book, I have to say that I love, love, loved the story when it revolved around Grady’s daughters and the horses, but I was not charmed by Grady. I am eager to read more by this author, but I hope her next hero is just that; heroic. While Grady plays an action hero in his movies, he doesn’t know how to behave like one.
Review copy provided by publisher
In this lighthearted and sexy romance, a young woman must choose between winning a competition—and the man who has won her heart.
Professional horse trainer Amanda Vogel dreams of riding jumpers in the Olympics, but after seeing her best friend die in a riding accident, she’s so traumatized she can’t compete. Broke and desperate, she takes a summer job in Aspen teaching some big-shot widowed movie star’s spoiled daughters to ride—and braces herself for three miserable months. But the movie star is funny, down-to-earth, and gorgeous—and his spoiled daughters are just desperate for a mother figure. By Labor Day, she has to choose between capturing a gold medal…and the man who has captured her heart.