by Karen Bentley
Here we are, ready to tackle the book where Harper Collins finally decided that they'd had enough. Really, what took them so long?
This is one of those covers that's unintentionally misleading. Who is this boy wearing Whitebrook's silks and why is he smiling at Cindy? we all must ask ourselves. At first it appears that Cindy's dating some new jockey and they've had a lover's quarrel that's left Cindy bitter and he's either over it already or ignorant that she's actually quite pissed off. Actually, the cover is pretty telling of their relationship. Jeremy is a nice guy. He's a professional jockey not much older than Cindy and by any normal standards is good at his job, but the problem is he's taken Cindy's ride on Honor and that means that, no matter how much of a natural he is at riding or how polite and professional he may be, he does not love Honor enough and therefore is ruining her! Ruining! Therefore Cindy pouts and scowls and starts acting all paranoid. Thus we have this book cover. Also, either that fence is tiny or Honor and Jeremy are giants.
Who's riding Honor?
Honor Bright, one of Cindy Mclean's favorite horses, is old enough for her first racing season! Cindy can't wait to be her jockey. So Cindy is terribly upset when she has an accident during a training session and the doctor says she wont be able to ride for a while.
Now Jeremy Correll--a young, new jockey--will get to race her special horse. Jeremy is an excellent jockey, but Cindy believes that only she can ride honor to victory. Will Cindy be able to swallow her pride and watch Jeremy race Honor? Or will she ignore her doctors orders and try to ride again?
No one ever taught poor Cindy McLean how to fall off a horse, so instead of jumping ship she stupidly stays on Honor as she rips through the inner rail of the training oval. Welcome to the opening chapter of Cindy's Honor, where Cindy quickly falls unconscious. Unfortunately she has to wake up and whine about things, so the book picks up again in the hospital so Cindy can shriek and flip out about Honor. While we're in the hospital, Cindy takes some time to process the information that her shoulder has been broken and she cannot ride for some time. Naturally Cindy ignores this bit of information because she's stubborn to a fault, which encourages fantasies of me smacking her around. Oh, that would be such bliss.
Eventually she leaves the hospital and in the meantime Ashleigh has committed the ultimate betrayal. She has gotten someone else to ride Honor. Oh, the horror. The horror. (Rolls eyes.) Meet Jeremy, Lavinia's cousin. Why Lavinia has a cousin who is an accomplished jockey on the West Coast is anyone's guess, but that's what's on the page so we'll roll with it. Cindy is not pleased with this development, has some brief flash of anger at Ashleigh for daring to continue with her plans to train her horse without Cindy (I don't know what Cindy was thinking would happen exactly...it's not like the farm shuts down when Cindy's not around...or does it?). Jeremy rides Honor around on the track and is just too professional for Cindy's taste because he's all trying to make Honor mind his authority! Holy hell! Who does he think he is, just pushing that poor, sensitive, blushing petal of a filly around like that! Whitebrook Farm, as we all know, just uses their never ending flow of love to convince horses to want to do what's asked of them. Jeremy is not in on this sappy little girl logic, and Cindy's pissed about it.
So there's all this crap about Honor getting a saddle sore, which Cindy rushes to blame on Jeremy although no one's really explaining who saddles this horse up every morning because it certainly doesn't look like Jeremy's doing it. Then it's like Jeremy is too professional and Honor's all confused because she expects love and leniency all the time and Cindy worries some more. And then she worries ever more because everyone's like SO thrilled that Honor is training so well, while Cindy bitches and moans about Honor supposedly not training well. It's essentially everyone's more knowledgeable opinion vs. Cindy's intuition, and everyone else pretty much wins out. Jeremy actually moves into Ashleigh and Mike's house, which I can't even begin to imagine, and everyone and their dog is just so in love with the guy that Cindy's sheer hatred of him would make for a retelling of Body Snatchers if this story was at all interesting.
Then, because Honor needs help, Cindy tries to ride Champion and fails miserably. Yeah, you try figuring that out because I'm done trying to find reasons for Cindy's asinine actions. Anyway, because Cindy is right and everyone else sucks, Jeremy acts like a lunatic waving a crop around in Honor's first race and Ashleigh takes him off of the filly as Cindy delivers the dire warning that Honor's career might be over! And Ashleigh apologizes to Cindy and lets Cindy ride Honor and Cindy lies about the pain she's experiencing and she wins some race and finally this stretch of books is over.
- Cindy demands to go to the barn after she gets back from the hospital and, being a slave to her every whim, Max carries her down there where she winds up collapsed on the floor. This is where Jeremy pops in to announce his presence and Cindy says bluntly, "Who are you?" Wow, Cindy. Manners, much?
- Don't you just love Karen's random attempt to stick as much description as she can into an awkward spot? Cindy's collapsed on the floor, Jeremy's aimlessly standing next to her, and here comes Ashleigh with Christina. Karen MUST describe Christina, so she packs in her features and then ends it with: "Christina sat down on the stable floor and began to arrange bits of straw into a tepee."
- Max asks Cindy how she thinks it will go with Jeremy riding Honor, and Cindy immediately insists it will be awful. "Honor doesn't even like him." I think someone is projecting her emotions.
- Cindy "will just have to believe that Ashleigh knows what she's doing." Yeah, because after that whole issue that was Cindy feeling inferior to Ashleigh, she now feels like she's somehow surpassed Ashleigh and now knows all! Only Cindy could possibly understand that another bad ride could end Honor's career! Only Cindy could know that hiring Lavinia's cousin is crazy! Why don't they all just listen to Cindy so they can stop repeating these silly mistakes that take whole books to resolve?
- Let us all take note that Cindy is no longer mad at Ashleigh for hiring Jeremy. Thank goodness, I was so unaware that she was actually mad.
- Jeremy breezes Honor and afterward she's sweaty and breathing a little hard. Everyone acts like this is normal except for Cindy, who's ready to flip out at any tiny damn thing, and she's all shocked when no one really reacts to her query over how Honor seems so upset. Doesn't anyone understand how sensitive Honor is? Yeah, for the horse that was beating up every other foal in the paddock we're now supposed to believe she's a delicate flower?
- Does anyone else think that Jeremy shouldn't be expected to groom Honor? Perhaps Whitebrook should bite the bullet and finally employ some grooms.
- The crop finally makes another appearance, and Cindy immediately protests its use even though Ashleigh justifies it by saying Jeremy can't allow Honor to run through the rail again. Only then Honor comes off the track favoring not one, but both front feet and Cindy knows exactly what the problem is. Jeremy smacked Honor with the crop and made her go off balance or something equally stupid.
- Max arrives and informs Cindy that the doctor just called to announce that her recent x-rays show her shoulder is healed and she can start physical therapy. Cindy instantly takes off her sling to do something triumphant with her arm (I'm sure) and is all shocked that she can't move it. Someone clearly needs to inspect Cindy's head instead of her arm.
- "You're not the kind of person who would make things up just to get another jockey off a horse you want to ride." *giggle/snort* Really, Max? Really? I'd take a long, hard look at that statement.
- I must say, it is hugely gratifying to see Cindy struggle to lift her arm two inches when she was so super confident she'd be riding again after one physical therapy session. Like, I love watching her in pain. This is probably because she's been putting me through so much crap for the last few books that I'm starting to feel vengeful.
- Out of nowhere Cindy decides to ride Champion, because if she can ride the most difficult horse on the farm she can ride any horse, including Honor. At least, that's her theory. One would think that she might want to reconsider this when she realizes she's not strong enough to lift a saddle onto Champion's back. But not Cindy. Oh no. She just decides to ride him bareback. Seriously, someone should lock this kid in her room. She's a danger to the community.
- Cindy insists that Honor is in trouble! Hence: "I just feel like Honor's on the edge, and it wouldn't take much to push her over." Max replies: "And no one else sees it? That's a little hard to believe." Why, yes! Max, you are so right. It is hard to believe. It's so hard to believe that I'm wondering why there's a whole book based on this idiotic premise obviously dreamed up by a nitwit with a bitchy streak.
- Perhaps Cindy should consider that if she's the only one who can see that Honor isn't happy, it's probably because she's wrong.
- Jeremy says something about how Honor thinks she can get away with misbehaving after she tries to dump him, or something, and Cindy's all with the how dare he! Yeah, who is that jackass who thinks he can just state fact like that! Only Cindy can think and/or comment on Honor's actions in any slightly negative, but mainly positive way!
- Cindy wants to stay in Honor's stall, but Jeremy points out that the filly is finicky and shouldn't have to get used to sharing her space the day before a race. A completely logical point! And Cindy turns to Ashleigh for the ultimate decision and Ashleigh sides with Jeremy. That backstabbing bitch! Cindy is all betrayed now and she's going to go be petulant and annoying and invariably piss the reader off again! Damn it all.
- "There's no time for misunderstandings in a race this short," Ashleigh groans, or moans or says or whatever. You know, there's also no time for this much talking in races this short either, but the Whitebrook crowd manages it time after freaking time. Something tells me Honor could do a back hand spring down the track, jump the rail twice and then cartwheel across the finish and still finish in the top three. So please, Karen, spare me the complaining.
- Great, so after Jeremy's sudden turn around into a completely incompetent rider, Ashleigh apologizes and states that she should have seen it all along. How random and convenient. Cindy can smile and be gleeful now. Her competition is gone. Joy!
- Cindy is going to go ride Honor in one of those grand Thoroughbred experiments that could very possibly end in disaster but always wind up in triumph. Mark tells her, "We'll go get front row seats. No, seriously, if we make you nervous we don't have to watch." For some unexplainable reason I am filled with love for Mark now.
- During the Magnolia, Cindy manages to force herself to stay conscious. Which I have to say is testament to her super jockey powers!