Published in 2004
After my last two reviews I've decided that I'm officially on a mission to read the worst TB books ever. I'm sure I'll give up sooner rather than later because the thought of reading #45 literally gives me hives, but we'll see how long I can last. If you have any suggestions (other than Hoofprints in the Snow, because I despise Lyssa), please let me know. Now on to our review.
Cover: I think my favorite part about this cover is how Connor (I will explain our newest stud muffin in a second) resembles a young, blond, Jerry Seinfeld. Totally drool worthy. Once again we have a horse that looks out of scale, though really, I can't tell any more. Kaitlin's cowboy boots are driving me wild with jealously, and the way these two lovebirds are gingerly holding hands really screams future married couple to me.
Plot: I don't know where to begin with this book. I think a better title would have been Kaitlin's Stalking Adventure or maybe Kaitlin's Inability to Think for Herself. For those of you who don't remember any of these worthless minor characters, Kaitlin Boyce is the girl who leased Sterling after Christina sold her to Samantha. Like all our protagonists, Kaitlin is more obsessed with winning the (Olympics) than anyone else, and more obsessed with it than anything else. Except, as it will be revealed to Kaitlin and the reader simultaneously, penises.
I'm not really one to pick on loners, but Kaitlin spends the majority of the beginning of the book musing about how she's got no friends. At first this doesn't bother her, of course, because she's got her wonderful mare Sterling and she's going to ride in the Olympics one day, which means she doesn't have any time for friends because in horse world, horses come first. There's just one thing standing between Kaitlin and her goal: she's a bad rider. Seriously, in this book Kaitlin rides terribly pretty much throughout and I don't really know why she's allowed to ride Sterling, let alone event.
Anyway, after a bad lesson, Parker suggests that Kaitlin go home for the weekend and have fun to take her mind off of how much she sucks. Sam suggests the same thing. So Kaitlin, demonstrating early on her inability to have an independent thought, decides maybe they are right. After being totally made fun of by two snotty girls at her barn, who of course are totally popular but hate horses (they're only riding as a college resume builder, you see), she decides to go to a party they're attending to make new friends with people her own age!
After donning black pants and a "soft pink sweater," Kaitlin walks down the street in her terrible outfit to the mansion where a sweet sixteen party is being hosted. Millions of horny high school teenagers are running amok without any parental supervision a la something out of a bad MTV reality show. No alcohol is mentioned, but its presence is definitely implied. Kaitlin promptly sits down on the couch and eats popcorn all by herself, watching everyone have fun all by her lonesome until the birthday girl plops down next to her and demands that a passing hunky blond guy dance with Kaitlin. Later we will learn that he is not so random because he was totally crushing on Kaitlin in English class, but the way Dickerson writes the scene it plays like something out of Clueless, when Cher gets random guy to dance with Britteny Murphy's character. Really throughout the book I think Dickerson is going for a Sweet Sixteen vibe and failing quite miserably. Moving on.
Hey guys, are you ready for true love? Kaitlin dances with blond dude, AKA Conner, and falls in love the minute he mentions that he's ridden horses. Immediately she starts planning their wedding, which will take place over stadium jumps while they compete in a pairs class. Eventually they end up on the couch surrounded by Connor's drama club friends. He basically ignores Kaitlin but she thinks, "It's okay that he isn't talking to me! It's easier to listen." For some reason I get the feeling Dickerson really wasn't writing Connor to be a jerk, but that's pretty much all he comes off as. Also, we all know that TB cannon says any guy involved with acting is going to hate horses and be a dick, so seriously, what is Kaitlin thinking? Finally, grow some balls Kaitlin, or at least some self-respect. A guy ignoring you is not acceptable, it's obnoxious. He just isn't that into you. Anyway.
They exchange screen names, or as Dickerson calls it, an "AIM name," and Kaitlin goes home and falls asleep or doesn't, I don't really remember. But regardless she receives an email from an unknown sender after the party. Holy crap, who could it be from? Should she dare open an email from an unknown sender? It could be from a pedophile, or worse yet, it could be a letter bomb! But, Kaitlin decides that the perilous risk is worth it, and opens the email. OMG it's from Connor you guys! Because he didn't just ask for Kaitlin's email address and his name wouldn't have been listed as the sender so how could we or Kaitlin have possibly seen that coming??
Moving on, Connor sends Kaitlin a quote about horses, and Kaitlin immediately thinks, "He likes horses and he likes me too!" This book is full of so many great quotes it's astounding. Kaitlin responds with another quote then drifts off to Whisperwood, rereading Connor's two sentence email over and over in her head. I guess I forgot to mention that Sterling strained a muscle or something, so Kailtin can't ride. Not that she cares because for the first time the male gaze has settled upon her, and boy there's just nothing else more important than that. All she wants to do is "go somewhere and think about the interesting new guy she'd just met." Jeeze. Interesting.
Sadly for Kaitlin, three days come and go and she doesn't hear from Connor. She doesn't email him again because she doesn't want to look like a stalker, however. Um. She hears that Connor's sick, but fears he is blowing her off. That's okay though, because he looked at her and she will have that memory forever. Then Connor shows up at school, apologizes for not speaking to her for half a week (he must have had malaria if he was too sick to freakin' email) and asks Kaitlin to a BBQ.
Well now it's that the end all be all. Kaitlin goes to Whisperwood in a fog and has a terrible lesson because all she can think about is Connor. She's basically a drooling sack of potatoes on Sterling's back, but that's okay because Sterling has lost all personality since Christina gave her up and would be safe carrying an infant. After carefully contemplating some dirt clods, Parker calls Kaitlin on riding like a dipshit, but Kaitlin just gets mad and storms off to sit alone in front of her computer until Connor IMs her. As they talk into the night, she marvels rapturously that this is why everyone enjoys IM so much. Okay. I buy that she's shy and has no friends, but it's 2004 and she hasn't ever used IM? Really?
So stuff that I forget happens, then Connor shows up unannounced at Whisperwood and he and Kaitlin go on a trail ride. Connor acts like horses kind of disgust him, and after their ride he abandons Kaitlin to cool off both their horses. She of course, doesn't care, because she managed to steal a lock of hair when Connor wasn't looking and she will treasure it forever. Or something.
More dumb stuff happens. Kaitlin can't stop thinking of Connor, which makes her riding terrible, Connor keeps randomly showing up while she's riding inbetween intervals where they don't talk, which makes Kaitlin's riding even more horrible. Parker and Sam yell at her and Sterling continues to be boring. After being ignored by Connor, Kaitlin finally grows a pair and calls him, but Connor tells her to get a life because horses are obviously worthless.
Are we sensing a pattern here?
This is step two in Kaitlin can't think for herself phase. She hasn't even kissed this guy yet, but she decides he must be right, lies to get out of lessons, and starts hanging out all the time with Connor at a place called "Soda Jerks." This is so great until Sam catches her there as if she were catching a cheating lover, they have a big fight, and Kaitlin terminates her lease.
Now phase three of Kaitlin can't think for herself phase. Somehow she runs into Christina, who gives her shit about abandoning Sterling, completely forgetting that this is what she herself did a mere three years ago. But finally, after an unknown number of weeks spent building a shrine to Connor in her basement, Kaitlin realizes he is a jerk and "breaks up" with him, though I am not sure how that works if all you're doing is eating ice cream together at a place called Soda Jerks. Then she starts riding Sterling again. But because Connor is a stalker, he randomly shows up at Whisperwood and apologizes to Kaitlin for being a jerk, admitting he doesn't know anything about horses. He also promises he will start to learn about her interests. Kaitlin is blissful because now she can be a real girl and ride horses. I am so glad that everything was resolved so unrealistically because that means the book is over.
Points of Interest:
- In this book, Tor actually appears for about two seconds at the beginning when he and Kaitlin go on a ride together. After that he is never heard from again.
- Every horse in this series is beloved by whatever human is riding them. Perhaps a petty observation, but it sounds like a word my grandmother would use, and man is it used constantly.
- I am starting to become really irritated by how everyone in these books is rich, especially if they're not a main character and especially if they are an antagonist. Seriously, I think all these authors are racist against rich people.
- At one point Kaitlin bites her cheek to keeps from smiling. That sounds both painful and stupid looking.
- When Connor responds to one of her emails/IMs immediately, Kaitlin's first thought is "I am good at talking if Connor responds right away."
- This book is so high tech. Email, IM, and cell phones!
- Here we are treated to the "my room is infantile and/or pathetic because it is decorated with horse stuff so I need to shove it all in my closet," trope. Whoopee. Though I suppose I went through a similar phase so maybe I shouldn't judge.
- Wow. I forgot about the whole "famous horses" phase until this book. How unfortunate.
- Sadly, by the end of the book, Kaitlin is no longer good at talking. "I say stupid things," she warns Connor when he tells her that he wants to give dating another go. Man, can we say self-esteem issues?