I seem to be making a habit lately of reading books out of order in a series and so far I’ve gotten lucky- really lucky. This is the fourth book in the series, but I had no trouble not having read the other books. It would be fine as a standalone I think. This book grabbed my attention when I knew it involved horse racing and a horse farm/stable as the back drop. I was also sold on the rich kid living up in the big house and the girl working in the stables with her dreams of more. Cinderella story for certain. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the author and this series and after reading this one I can see that it is well-deserved.
Savannah has just moved with her dad and his pregnant girlfriend from a small horse farm operation in West Virginia so her dad can pursue a better job here at a huge-multimillion dollar racing farm in Tennessee. Savannah has hopes of getting a chance at a job as an exercise rider to help take the burden off the family finances.
Her very first day there she catches a break when she stops a runaway horse and meets the owner’s son, Jack, who is in charge of operations. Jack is her age, but his dad wants to break him into the family business. Jack was all flirty smiles until he learns that she’s part of the hired help. Then he’s all business and tells her that he’ll give her a chance at a job if she can get up on the fractious horse she just rescued and turn in a good exercise time.
Savannah makes friends with another stable hand, Rory Whitfield, who is also her age and who dreams of becoming a Hollywood writer. Rory introduces her to Vanessa who he is crushing on, Colton who loves his food and sleep and a few others. She’s the new kid, but she’s making a few good friends. She even sees that she can dream bigger than she was because now she wants to jockey and go to college. Go big or go home, right?
Unfortunately, the guy she wants to spend time with, Jack Goodwin, is her boss and he’s trying to make his dad proud so there is no dating an employee. He also has a reputation. However, Jack seems just as interested in her when it’s just them away from the farm and the track. Savannah won’t be his secret girl so she gives him an ultimatum and he walks away. So she tries to focus on her dream of riding the race horses and maybe even college still wistfully watching Jack and hoping something will change.
Savannah is the narrator and I enjoyed getting the story from her perspective. Savannah is the story. It was good because she’s a wonderful character. She’s a down to earth girl who’s lived an unusual life as her dad’s world is race horses and that becomes her world too. Like any girl she wants friends and to have a good time, but she also puts priority on her family. I was so proud of her when she saw where things were going with Jack and let him know that she respected herself too much to be his dirty, little secret. She was so into him and he was into her, but she made the hard decision.
Her family dynamics of a mom who died of cancer, a dad who’s just a blue collar Joe who didn’t even finish high school and recently got his girlfriend pregnant and wants to make a family together, the girlfriend who is blue-collar too and who is kind and wants to include Savannah makes things a bit awkward for Savannah and she resents it, but other than normal irritation and fear, she handles it all pretty well. In fact, Savannah is rather refreshing in that way. She was low angst about a lot of stuff. Sure, she’d react like normal people, but then she’d buck up and move on.
Have to share this quote that will explain a bit about Savannah and her dad:
“One time a horseman told me I have a way with horses. Dad told me not to listen when men say things like that because they’re just trying to get into my pants. But I do have a way with horses. Dad, however, does not have a way with words.”
Savannah, Racing Savannah.
There is a nice romance that develops between Savannah and Jack. They come from different social status, but there is a connection. Jack has a lot on his plate, but I loved how Savannah changed him because he really saw her as special and cared for her. These two get up to some pretty hot and heavy stuff too though it doesn’t get too graphic since it is a YA novel.
The group of friends in this one was so good. Rory and Savannah had a neat guy-girl friend thing going and I enjoyed her girly friendship with Vanessa who teaches Savannah to be really careful about judging based on appearance. The other characters Colton and Kelsey were nice additions too. It was fun getting peek-ins with the characters from the previous books too.
I can’t close out without mentioning how much I enjoyed the backdrop of this world of horse farm/racing. It all felt so authentic. I’m a horse lover and I enjoy my casual rides. I know its not the same, but still I felt I was there with these loveable animals even if these thoroughbreds were a bit more high strung than I’m used to.
For YA cautions, I would suggest this for older teens as there is moderate language and a couple of party and sex scenes (though not overly descriptive).
My recommendation is for those who enjoy their YA Contemporary Romances with a touch of spice, strong heroines and an easy going plot.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.