Mar 23, 2008

Despite nearly dying, it's the best day ever! TB Super: Ashleigh's Christmas Miracle

Ashleigh's Christmas Miracle
Thoroughbred Super Edition
by Joanna Campbell
Original Publication: 1994

Welcome to the book that forever after confuses everything. Or, more specifically, the dream that confuses everything. After reading this thing I can't help but the hell did Karen Bentley manage to take the whole thing as canon? How? Just...gah!

Okay, I've got time later to bitch about how this book screws the entire series. On to more pressing matters. Like the cover!

It's a fairly romantic cover, although I could really do without the holly garland. Plus, it just has to keep reminding me of how unthinkable it would be to show up at the hospital to pick up your recently conscious wife and premature infant in a horse drawn sleigh in below freezing temperatures. A horse drawn sleigh is romantic and fun for about five minutes. It is not romantic and fun for a drawn out haul through town and who knows how much country when you have an infant with you. I just...need to stop looking at this.

A baby for Christmas . . .

Ashleigh Griffen and Mike Reese are expecting their first child right after the New Year. But on Christmas Eve, as Ashleigh makes the rounds of the stables at Whitebrook Farm, handing out Christmas treats to all her favorite horses, a stallion's kick puts both her life and the life of her baby in jeopardy.

Ashleigh is rushed to the hospital, where her baby is born premature. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she dreams about her daughter's life as an Olympic riding champion. Will Ashleigh live to see her daughter become a winner, or will her dreams for her daughter die with her?

It's Christmas Eve and Ashleigh's eight months pregnant. The long and the short of the story that matters is she gets kicked in the stomach by a freaked out gelding, causing premature labor. She gives birth to Christina, a blood vessel bursts in Ashleigh's brain, and she slips into unconsciousness for an unspecified number of days. During this time she dreams about her daughter living without her. Then Ashleigh wakes up and goes home, promising her infant daughter that she'll always be there for her.

The dream is this long affair stretching over six years, wherein Christina attempts to become one of the best three-day eventers in the country and prove that she is her mother's daughter. The first section of the dream involves Christina falling for this filly of Fleet Goddess's (your classic sickly foal situation), the second part involves training the filly as a three-year-old and Christina suffering almost catastrophic injury, and the final part is all about pigheadedly refusing to acknowledge her pain threshold and becoming the great rider she knew she'd be. At the young age of 16. At her rate Christina will be using a walker by the time she's thirty.


  • This book jumps forward two years to when Wonder is twelve and Ashleigh is 24. However, Precocious is still described as being a "possible winner" although at this point she'd nearly be four years old.
  • You know, I made light of how simple the name Wonder's Pride was before. I'd like to apologize to Wonder's Pride, because the name Jazz Goddess deserves more mocking. Well, her dad is Jazzman and her mom is Fleet Goddess so . . . *light blub on!* Yeah, Christina is ten and all when she comes up with this name, but her friend came up with the name Determined so I'm not accepting that excuse.
  • Also, it appears Jazz Goddess (ugh) has tendon laxity. If she can stand up by herself with that condition I don't think corrective booties are necessary.
  • The supernatural hearing voices element is a little weird and out of no where. It fits in when Christina is entirely out of it after her fall, but the other time would have me wondering if I wasn't a little insane.
  • There's an instance in here where Tor walks in wearing riding breeches and a jacket over a turtleneck and then claps his hands. I just couldn't help laughing at this.
  • Who is this Whitebrook Lass and why does the whole farm seem to rely on her so much?
  • I find it amusing how everyone at Whitebrook has this almost visceral reaction to disliking Lord Townsend, even though by all that we know, Whitebrook Farm should own half of Lord Townsend because he's out of Townsend Princess. Poor Lord Townsend. Such the black sheep of the family.
  • Ross. Okay, sure, it makes sense. Brad vs. Ashleigh and Ross vs. Christina. It's natural. Unfortunately the tension there just isn't as, well, palpable? Hysterically time consuming? I kept reading about their competitive need to beat the crap out of each other and thought about how much I might really enjoy the build up to Christina/Parker later on.
  • I would have really enjoyed to see an explanation for why Samantha quit Whitebrook after Ashleigh died. That would have been an interesting, sad story. And that's what strikes me about this book. The dream is more or less a waste of time (although entertaining time...I'll give it that) but it skips the more interesting storylines. You know what could have been skipped? Part One. Joanna should have started with Part Two, dedicated a whole section to Christina's rehabilitation and near collapse due to pushing herself too hard, and then Part Three should have been the preparation for the Rolex Kentucky. Why gloss over all that good stuff so we can read about a foal with a not-so-serious problem and a ten-year-old girl with the patience of a gnat?
  • Also, a hat? Seriously? The whole plot twist is a hat flying out of nowhere and spoking Jazz, thereby injuring Christina? I was all set to see Jazz doing some typical green horse shenanigans resulting in injury. Instead it's a hat hitting her horse on the nose. I didn't know to be refreshed or annoyed.
  • Why do they keep stabbing Christina with needles to get her to sleep? She has an IV. Use it.
  • My favorite line: "Yo, crip." I have no idea why Ross says this to Christina. Although it is quickly becoming my favorite quote in the series.
  • I really enjoyed Mike's conversation with Christina about competition and not letting it drive her life. I also find it exceedingly ironic because Cindy is next and if anyone was sorely in need of that talk, it's her.
  • There's another one of those "I know it sounds crazy..." medical moments brought to us by Joanna Campbell. The nurses, despite it being "strictly against the rules" (although I don't see why, generally speaking, but considering Chris is a month premature I guess it makes some rational sense) brings Christina into Ashleigh's hospital room because they think it will help bring her out of her coma-like whatever. And in true "this only happens in the movies!" Christina accidentally bumps Ashleigh's cheek and she wakes up like she's just woken from a light nap.
  • And then they stick both weakened Ashleigh and premature Christina in an open sleigh for a ride that will last who knows how long, despite the nurses twittering stupidly about how the doctors would never allow it. I'm sure there was some pool between the nurses going on by the end of that book on how soon they'd be seeing Ashleigh & Co. back at the hospital after that.
My main problem with this book isn't the book itself. The book is pretty good despite it sort of just ending randomly and skimming over things that would have been more interesting than the things described in detail. My problem is how the dream becomes canon later on. Kevin, Ross, the eventing...they all just step out of this dream and into the canon series, which irks me to no end.

Thus I have to blame this book for all the stupidity later. I tackle Tor's rumored infidelity and the complete ridiculousness of Cindy.


Anonymous said...

CaballosMuchacha here on her other Blog....

I hated this one. It had everything that made me sick of the TB series after a while...sickly foals, superhorses, perfect riders, Dues Ex Machina...

Amber said...

Wonderful! I can't wait for the next review!

Monique said...

You know what I hated with this one? The fact that it read like a Showtime special.... more so than any other TB book. Lalala... it's all bad, but girl and horse still conquer all odds! Oh, and what the hell is up with Jazz's markings? I mean, honestly.

Anonymous said...

i always assumed the "yo, crip" was supposed to be short for "cripple" and not a reference to the Bloods and the Crips, though i think it took me injuring my knee and getting called the same thing before i made the connection.

this was the book that confused the hell out of me. i had only read the first two books in the series when i came across this one and couldn't figure out who Mike was or why thirteen year old Ashleigh was knocked up. at the time, i was still under the belief that it took place in a time bubble, a la The Saddle Club.

Mara said...

wow, i completely didn't connect the crip = cripple thing at all. i went straight into "what is this weird gang reference doing in a children's book?" stage. it was probably the "yo" that did it, come to think of it. googling the two together provided me several moments of entertainment that day, i have to admit.

KayBee said...

You know what the weirdest thing is? This was actually on my school's RC list. And I read this in what? Second grade?

Anonymous said...

On the back of this book it says A STALLION ran over Ashleigh, but in the book one of Mike's geldings did. In a later book it says Mr. Wonderful did.