Phantom Stallion 4: The Renegade
When an ambitious rodeo contractor comes to town, Sam worries. The woman wants to buy tamed mustangs from local ranchers, including Sam's dad, and doesn't seem to like taking no for an answer.Oh lordy, the Phantom is in trouble again. It seems like everyone and their cat want this horse. But he's Sam's. You got that?
Then Sam spots the Phantom's herd- without him. She's sure he's been captured by the rodeo, but how will she find him? And even if she does, how can she set him free?
All in all, a fairly accurate summary, so not much else to be said here.
The book opens with Rachel Slocum showing everyone what a spoiled little bitch she is by taking her father's horse, Champ, on a ride without telling anyone. Linc asks Sam and Jake to ride out and find her, which they do... on the floor and having a grand old tantrum. Sam gets all Jealous that Jake and Rachel get to share a saddle. Which is sort of cute, actually. I like how Terri touches on Sam's crush on Jake in this series. They have the classic love-hate relationship going on, which warms the cockles of my heart.
Linc Slocum makes mention about a rodeo contractor, Karla Starr, who is going to be buying some stock for her show from him, and she wants him to throw in a pale mustang to sweeten the deal. Oh, dear. What horse could this be, I wonder?
The next day, Rachel decides to try and coax Sam into teaching her to really ride, while not being upfront about the reasons behind this. Something about the "Best in the West" blah blah blah. She drops hints that the drought might be causing financial trouble for Sam's family and it would be in her best interests to cooperate.
Later Sam and her BBF, Jen Kenworthy, are out riding and find the golden fringe from a show jacket in the middle of the flats. Odd, no? Could Rachel and Karla Starr be connected somehow?
The Phantom almost gets hit by the school bus and Sam gets into big shit for saving him and risking her own life. She gets banned from riding the bus for two weeks, which is no biggie, as well as being confined to the ranch after school. Clever Sam cons Rachel into getting her driver to give both herself and Jen a lift as part of the riding lesson deal.
So, it turns out that Miss Perfect wants to win a Rodeo Queen competition so she can show her English brother, Ryan, that she's a real American cowgirl. So she also enlists Sam's help with finding the perfect horse for her. Joy. You can clearly see who our antagonist is in this series, yes?
Ace, Sam's little mustang gelding, has been escaping from his paddock and Sam begs to take him for a gallop. She and Jake go and we are treated to Sam's thirteen-year old mind's inner workings as she observes Jake ride Teddy. But, a storm breaks, releasing them of the drought, but causing the ground to go slippery. Teddy slips and falls and Jake breaks his leg. But he's all manly about the pain, so Sam is even more in awe of his awesomeness.
So, Jake is bedridden and Sam visits him on his birthday and gives him this bridle she bought him and some info she printed out on Native American trackers that she thought he'd be interested in. I have to say at this point that I really do like how their relationship is written. Terri really has a knack for characterization.
Sam's dad, Brynna and Gran go off to some fair to compete and Sam sneaks out to check and see if the Phantom is still with his herd. He is not and Sam ends up caught in a flash flood trying to save some stupid heifers who think drowning is the way to go.
Dallas, the wise and aged foreman, takes Sam to some local rodeos to look for him and then decided that the best event for him would be the wild horse race. But, no such luck.
Eventually, Brynna gets involved, being a BLM staff member, and they find the Phantom at some rodeo with some stock of Linc's and the shady Karla Starr.
He is released back into the wild and all is well.
Just a side note here, it is very clear that there is romance between Wyatt, Sam's dad, and Brynna. And Sam is not all that thrilled about it.
I like this series. There are some awesome lines and description that far surpasses any other horse series in the YA lit section. Plus, I like Sam. She's not little miss perfect all the time and makes some real human mistakes. And not everything is handed to her on a silver platter. Plus, we are constantly shown that she does not know everything there is to know about riding.
So, yeah. Not a bad book in the series, all in all. But it does get better as Terri settles into things and feels less need to explain the setting and characters.