Author: Tudor Robins
Genre: YA Equestrian Romance
Length: 248 Pages
Release: June 2014
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
The title of this novel caught my attention almost right away. My mind was flooded with memories from all those summers (and every other season of the year, too) that I spent with my beautiful Appaloosa Smokin' Joe. Still, I was hesitant. Picking up horse books can be hard for me (but I'm getting better!), because it's so easy to get wrong. I'm happy to say that this book did a very nice job with the equestrian side of things.
Meg, our main character, is devastated when her horse Major dies in the middle of a competition. After recovering from her own injuries, Meg ventures to her parent's island cottage for a summer job, not yet ready to let another horse take Major's place.
This book was filled with likable, easy to relate with characters. They aren't always as believable as I would like, as there were not many flaws shown by the characters. Aside from that, they were nicely done. There isn't too much drama, which was a nice break from a lot of the YA I've read recently. The drama that was there stayed mostly in the periphery of the story and was handled gently, never thrown at you. In some respects this was almost more middle grade than YA, in terms of how situations were handled and characters portrayed.
The horse side of the novel was cute and showed some of the emotional baggage that goes with loving horses. I could feel Meg's pain over her loss, though I think it would take me much longer to emotionally recover from something like that. It was nice to see her growing bond with Salem, the Appaloosa she acquires during her stay in the cottage. My only complaints with the horsey side of things is that there could have been more. Salem was already well trained and Meg didn't seem to have to work enough to get her where she wanted her to be. Their relationship as horse and rider could have been explored more. Aside from that, the horse stuff was well done. The explanations and terms were used very nicely and explained well enough that a non equestrian reader can appreciate the art and story.
Meg and Jared's romance was cute and innocent. Just the kind of first love story that makes you happy. There was not a lot of drama surrounding their interactions and they helped each other grow, rather than holding each other back. Very cute.
This was overall a very enjoyable and quick read. A little more depth to the characters and situations, a little more bonding time between people and horses, would have improved it, but as is it's a really good read. Highly recommended for those who like horses and innocent first love. I am definitely looking forward to continuing the series.