by Laura Moore
Here is another romance novel. What can I say? Dead Heat is next.
My library copy of this book makes it look like the guy is having a romantic chance meeting with a K-Mart promotional sticker, as that's what's covering up the girl and horse. As it is, this book takes place on Long Island, not Kentucky, so that accounts for the beach scene. I don't know what they're actually doing. Do romance novel covers usually make any sense anyway? That's a resounding no, so we'll move on.
Growing up trapped by her father's wealth, awkward Ty Stannard found freedom on horseback. A talented equestrian, she yearned to ride as well as her idol, champion Steve Sheppard. Worshiping the handsome Kentuckian, she treasures the lucky medallion he gives her the day they chance to meet. But then a nasty fall changes everything, and Ty is forced to leave her dreams behind.
Now a beautiful woman, determined to live life on her own terms, Ty learns that Steve stands on the brink of ruin. Moved by memories of his kindness to her, she offers him financial backing, but Steve perceives only a selfish socialite amusing herself at his expense. In a daring move, he challenges Ty to be not only a financial partner -- but a full-time farmhand as well, expecting she'll tire of the hardships of a working stable. To Steve's surprise, Ty takes up his challenge.As they rebuild Southwind, Steve's beloved stable, they find unexpected strength and comfort in each other -- and a passion neither can deny. But their fragile love will be tested by not only those who seek to destroy what they have built, but also the insecurities and doubts that shadow their own very vulnerable hearts.
So, it's 1989. Ty Stannard is a billionaire's daughter and Lizzie is her best friend. They are fourteen and in love with Steve Sheppard, who is 23 and a super fantastic rider. Ty has been hoarding pictures of him in her room for years, and so on. It's one of those big, completely hopeless crushes the less well known harbor on the more well known so the more well known can whine and bitch about it while secretly loving it. You know they do. Anyway, Ty and Lizzie are at a show in New York, and Steve is also there and Lizzie gets Ty to dump her bodyguard for a second so they can meet Steve. Which they do. And Steve gives Ty this medallion thing for good luck because he's supposed to be a nice guy, and then the bodyguard finds them and all hell breaks loose.
Ty has a bodyguard because her father, Tyler Stannard (who did, yes, name his daughter Tyler Maximilian Stannard after himself), is a billionaire and obsessed with the thought that someone might kidnap, rape, or otherwise accidentally touch Ty. So that's why she has Sam, the bodyguard. Sam is 29 at this point. I think that sets everything up. So we'll skip on to 1991, when Ty falls off her horse and her dad sells her horse because that damn horse can't be trusted. Sam quits in disgust. Steve buys a horse called Fancy Free. Okay, now we can move on to 1999.
Somewhere in the past eight years, Steve buys a farm on Long Island with this guy named Jason, who rapidly becomes a coke addict to the point that he manages to nearly bankrupt the farm. I don't know what kind of coke addiction you need in order to embezzle to the degree that you singlehandedly cause the ruination of a horse farm, but Jason manages it. More importantly, Steve somehow doesn't notice it, and then his horse, Fancy Free, gets his foot caught in a hay net and dies because Steve finds him when it was supposed to be Jason's night watching the stable, so he has to shoot Fancy. Then Steve beats the crap out of Jason, and seeing as how this is horse society and it's Long Island, the gossip starts raging full force soon after.
Enter Ty to magically save the day. She sells her Rolls Royce and her Lotis and her 5th Avenue apartment and offers to become 50/50 partners with Steve so Southwind will get back on its feet. It's important to note that they haven't seen each other since 1989 and they really don't know each other anyway, so I really didn't care about all this supposed history with the medallion that Ty keeps thinking about. Steve accepts the offer on some conditions, one among them being that Ty has to live on the farm so he can keep an eye on her. He does not trust partners after all, but really this is just a convenient excuse for them to have sex. Although they don't, really, have sex until later. This isn't a Karen Robards book, after all. If it was they'd be on the conference room table in front of the lawyers after fifteen minutes of knowing each other.
Well, anyway. Ty arrives at the farm and discovers the house is filthy. So she whips out her checkbook and has other people clean it. Good going, Ty. I was horrified for a moment that she was going to slip into traditional Disney heroine mode and clean it all herself. Steve is somewhat irked that she doesn't really skip a beat. He hates that she's there, but he's sort of lusting after her to a huge degree, and blah blah blah. Just make up something in your head and it probably happened.
Eventually, sick and tired of having him call her Junior to her face, Ty goes and buys some apple trees so she can plant them at Fancy's grave. This finally knocks sense into Steve's head. Instead of being a jerk, he can be grateful and nice and then maybe he'll finally get laid! Astonishing it took him this long to do that math. No wonder his farm failed and he never noticed his partner was that far gone. So they plant the apple trees and start making out.
Um...and then I guess I should mention that Ty's dad is doing his Evil Empire stuff back in Manhattan. He will convince Ty to come back to him and ruin Steve's life more than he's already ruined it himself and so forth. Back at the farm, Ty learns how to ride again but is so sore that she needs someone to walk on her back. And this results in the weirdest back-walking episode I have ever seen. Basically, Steve walks on her back and it's the most erotic back-walking EVER, which sort of disturbs me in general because I fail to see how this is possible. I don't care what he's doing to muscle groups or how he uses his toes, okay? It's ridiculous.
So then Lizzie shows up. Lizzie married the typical creep who became a creep the day she married him when he tried to rape Ty, who threw up on him. So Lizzie then got pregnant by him and then divorced him, so she's got this asshole ex-husband and a daughter, who is cute, named Emma. Lizzie shows up to help them with clients or some such. Then Sam shows up, so he can tell Ty what his government funded and therefore completely powerful and immune security business found out about her dad's financial maneuvering to screw up her life. And somewhere in there Sam decided he really wanted Lizzie, and Lizzie seems to have forgotten exactly how old Sam is (that would be 40) and mistakes him for 55. I don't know how. OH, it's PROBABLY BECAUSE SHE'S 25. Look, I can handle a ten year age difference. That is doable. When it gets up to 15, I start to get uncomfortable. Anyway, moving past my hang up on ages, I actually like Sam and Lizzie way more than Ty and Steve, mainly because Ty started to get pretty damn boring right about here. She's rich, she's a virgin, she's trying to be nice but keeps getting in stupid arguments with Steve that wind up with making out...it's pretty old at this point. Boo hoo, you're rich and a virgin. Have sex and shut up all ready.
But unfortunately not a whole lot happens that we see with Lizzie and Sam. I guess they verbally spar, which is far more interesting than Steve being upset when he finds out that Ty is that girl he gave the medallion to (like we care? what? this matters how?) before making out with her again. So Sam takes Lizzie home to Connecticut, where I guess they have sex off screen, and we are treated to Ty and Steve having sex, although they're really sappy about it and the phrase "make love" comes up way too much in its various formats. I hate the phrase "make love" mainly because it makes me cringe each time I see it. Sort of like the word slumber. Or the name Kevin. Or the name Steve for that matter. I hate the name Steve almost as much as I hate the name Kevin. I have no reasoning for these things, just in case you're curious.
So they have sex, but call it making love, and I give Laura tons of points for involving a condom that is actually used and not tossed to the side because Ty and Steve are too passionate for practicality. Only it's really awkward and comes across as a ten second sex ed course in the middle of all of it, which...very strange. I totally understand why most authors do away with that detail entirely. But, really, she's a virgin, Steve, not an idiot. I realize some people don't know how to put a condom on, but that's probably because they are idiots.
Well, they have sex and have their sentimental talk later about how they're so happy. I really wish the book ended there. But it doesn't. Instead they have to go compete, and I skimmed through that because I really didn't care. This girl named Cassie shows up, who I swear is a Mary Sue because I see no reasoning for her to be there at all other than to be perfect and nice and sell horses to people as she's busy being perfect and nice and perfect some more. Sam buys a horse for seemingly no reason, Ty and Steve have more sex, Lizzie and Sam verbally spar some more, which in its brevity still remains more interesting than Ty could ever hope to be, and then the Evil Empire rears its ugly head and tries to do something ineffective that causes some drama for five or six pages and then Steve tells off Ty's dad and then he proposes to Ty and asks her to have his amazing fantastical babies. The end.
That's it. No points of interest, really. Just another horsey romance novel over and done with.