Dec 15, 2008

In my defense, I did start skimming.

Picture of Perfection
by Kristin Gabriel
Thoroughbred Legacy #3
Published: 2008

The tag line here is: "How deep does perfection go?" Well? How deep does perfection go? I would say this is somehow relevant to the plot, but it isn't. So let's move on.
Veterinarian Carter Phillips wants answers. The scandal surrounding his employer's prizewinning horse has left Carter unable to clear Quest Stables' name or his own. But then Carter spies an exquisite painting of an unknown horse that could finally lead him to the truth.

Artist Gillian Cameron knows exactly who the horse is: he's her family's Thoroughbred, Picture of Perfection. But Carter's suspicions compromise the horse's future and that of her family. She knows she can't trust Carter's agenda, so why does she find herself wanting to trust him with a mystery of her own?
This series, for some reason, continues to intrigue me. However, what I find more disturbing is my new found ability to knowledgeably compare these books to other horsey romance novels. I...never wanted that ability, needless to say. But I guess we'll roll with it, because it's necessary to say that this book is channeling Karen Robards pretty hard. In a skimpy, Harlequin way that isn't exactly fully fleshed out. As far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. It's both hilarious and bad, but not that bad. Not Karen Robards bad.

So let's begin with our characters. Carter is Quest's vet, and is thirty-three. He's off at Del Mar for their meet, and intends to be in California for about two or three weeks. For some reason he starts off the book at an auction, where he runs into the most fantabulous painting of a horse that looks just like Leopold's Legacy, the often mentioned but never seen stallion with daddy problems. Stunned at this, Carter buys the painting, thinking that somehow this is key to discovering who the sire is of their bastardized horse. Conveniently, a meet and greet is scheduled between Carter and the artist, Gillian.

Gillian is messed up. No, really. She's off having nightmares constantly about the fire she was in when she was ten, which killed her parents and shuffled her off to her godfather, who proceeded to gamble away her entire inheritance somehow. So she's sort of poor, but not really because she has a racehorse called Picture of Perfection, which she is obsessed with and paints all the time. He is the horse in Carter's painting. So when Carter gets to the farm (called, appropriately enough, Robards) he and Gillian hit it off right before he lets her know about his theory that Picture of Perfection and Leopold's Legacy might have the same sire. Weirdly enough, Picture of Perfection's sire is listed as Apollo's Ice (no, I'm not making these names up), the same sire that was supposed to be Leopold's sire before the insanity happened, leaving everyone confused and pissed off. Gillian, using her skills of deduction, refuses to let Carter make off with some of her horse's blood and basically he's ordered off the property. Of course, this is all after they have their typical romance novel first meeting, in which they shiver and act all moonstruck and ponder about each other and why they are so interested, etc.

Oh, and Gillian is twenty-two. Of course she is. To Carter's credit, he thinks their age difference is inappropriate. This, naturally, does not stop him later. Much, anyway. Typical romance novel. It's so typical it's disturbing at this point.

Anyway, having ordered him away this does not stop Gillian from obsessing over him some more. Somehow Carter wanders back into her life the next day, or something like that, and asks her to this dance. They go to the dance and they're still all moonstruck and dopey about each other. And they kiss. Huzzah. But the kiss, you see, is too earth shattering, so Gillian slams on the breaks and demands to be taken home, where they will not have sex, thank you very much.

After this Gillian decides to do some hypnotherapy to get her brain in order about these lost memories of the fire. They angst about this a lot, at one point Gillian thinks she started the fire, then they think her godfather started the fire, and then it becomes obvious that someone else started the fire. Some blurry face she can't make out in her memories. During all of this, she's going to this local gallery, where her art is going to be displayed. The gallery owner does not apparently care that she only has paintings of horses, but eventually she starts this painting of Carter, of course, because her two passions have to be horses and this guy. There are no other passions!

Anyway, eventually Picture of Perfection goes into shock after receiving a tainted batch of bute. No one realizes this is the cause until well after the threat is over, but Carter happens to be there and gives him a shot of something or another and it works, but not before he's sent off blood work to a lab and ordered DNA tests. Oh, the scandal. He determines that he should do this because the horse might have some genetic problem, but you know he just wants to know who the daddy is. He doesn't tell Gillian about this, because that would derail her plan to sleep in the nearby stall so they can keep an eye on the horse. They sleep in the stall. Well, actually, they have sex in the stall. Apparently she's been carrying a condom around with her ever since their first kiss, which was like three days ago. Maybe less than that.

This sex scene made me giggle, I will just say that right now. Right around the point where he says, afterward, that he tried to resist her for as long as possible but had to give in when she started to lick him I burst into laughter. I mean, come on. They're practically naked and in a stall and he's still resisting and the only thing that convinces him this is a good idea is her licking him? On top of which, she was licking along the waistband of his jeans, which also earned a lot of laughter from me. Wow, sexy. Ugh.

Alright, so obviously the horse is okay and despite his going into anaphactic shock they determine he can still race in the Pacific Classic that weekend. Which is probably in two days, or something. I don't know. Anyway, then Gillian discovers that Carter ordered DNA tests and gets pissed off and tells him off and then she goes to the gallery. Where the gallery owner decides that he is insane.

Here is what happened: gallery owner painted Gillian's mom and decided they were in love. Gillian's mom was not enthused about this, so gallery owner tried to burn the house down and save her mom, only accidentally saved Gillian instead. Gallery owner changes his name and returns twelve years later so he can transfer his obsession to Gillian. They are so in love! Gillian disagrees, throws paint thinner in his eyes and tries to escape. Carter, somehow, arrives and beats up the gallery owner, who has a gun and is randomly shooting things. Then they tie up the gallery owner while people on the street ask them if they're doing performance art. That was cute, I guess.

And then Picture of Perfection wins the Pacific Classic, is actually the son of Apollo's Ice, Carter decides to leave Quest so he can become a professor at UC-Davis, and proposes to Gillian. They are so in love! The end.

  • You can't name a racehorse Picture of Perfection. That's 21 characters, including spaces. The limit is 18. I am not even going to get into the vet and racing stuff Kristin is going on about, because I don't have the time or inclination to care.
  • Gillian is poor, yet not. I don't understand how anyone is making any money here, especially when she has a racehorse and seems to do nothing but paint horses all day. Also, her great dream is to have a horse sanctuary at Robards Farm, which she should really think about because with a name like that it's probably likely that one of her horses is going to be violated and then brutally slaughtered at random.
  • Typos. I have never seen a book with as many misspellings and typos as this one.
  • I don't buy the notion that Quest is going to be banned from North American racing because one horse has pedigree problems. This is an industry where people who seriously drug their horses are merely suspended for a few months, if that. Come on, people.
So, that's really it. In the next book, the rich son of Quest gets it on with an office manager. Yay, gold digging!

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