By Mary Newhall
Will Samantha and Tor's wedding be ruined?
Preparing to welcome a baby to the family, Samantha and Tor are cleaning out the spare bedroom to make a nursery when they find their wedding album. It's been stored away for years and now brings back a lot of memories.
Long ago, when she and Tor got engaged, Samantha began planning the most glorious wedding Kentucky had ever seen. But as the date neared, disaster followed disaster, forcing her to put her plans aside. First a mare went into premature labor; then a steeplechase horse with Man o' War's bloodlines needed their help; finally there was a terrible accident.
Samantha was starting to think maybe she and Tor weren't meant to get married. After everything that had gone wrong, would their wedding day turn into another disaster?
Props for general accuracy on this one, though it wasn't really all that difficult—throw in some photo album, some wedding, some accidents, and you've got a summary. Also, is that "long ago" like "a long time ago when the earth was green," or "long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece there was a golden age of powerful gods extraordinary heroes"? It makes it sound like their wedding was about 326 years ago—which, in Thoroughbred time, it might have been.
Gosh, look! It's Keri Russell marrying Parker Townsend! Oh, wait … it's not? Could've fooled me. So we have a lovely brunette so-called Samantha marrying a lovely brunette so-called Tor. Samantha is wearing a stunning pink tunic that goes nicely with her
Well, guys, it had to happen eventually. Ashleigh got not only the best diary but an entire spin-off featuring things that didn't happen in TB-verse, Cindy got not one but two hideously titled diaries, and now it's Samantha's turn. We start with the never-before-used trope of "oh crap we need this room for something let's clean it out and HEY LOOK something wonderful that reminds me of my past which I will tell you a really long and uninteresting story about!" Ashleigh, Christina, and Cindy come over to help and impress us with Mary Newhall's ability to read and remember the contents of the early books, such as that Sierra existed, Max Smith existed, Cindy was an overly confident little brat, the Pony Commandos existed, and Mandy existed. They find Samantha's wedding dress, and Ashleigh says that it was "the wedding we thought was never going to happen." Christina, like a dutiful daughter, asks to hear the story. That, or she's just really tired of picking through Samantha and Tor's junk.
We are blasted back a number of years (though not quite 326) to Yvonne Ortez and Gregg Doherty's wedding. For those keeping track, that means Samantha is 23, Tor is 25, Kevin is four, Cindy is 17, Mandy is 13, Christina is four (almost five), and Ashleigh's last name has magically changed to Griffin. Gregg and Yvonne get married and everything is beautiful. Tor decides that his "oh Sammy, kiss me!" proposal from Samantha's Journey wasn't good enough, so he proposes again, this time right in the middle of the wedding reception. Yeah, that's really polite, Tor. At least he has a ring this time.
Samantha and Tor can't decide on a date for their wedding, but Samantha does propose a honeymoon in the Caribbean, like Ashleigh and Mike. Beth suggests that they book the country club for a December 7 wedding. Samantha isn't excited about something so fancy, but she says yes.
Maureen brings over some wedding magazines, and Sammy balks at the idea of wearing a fancy dress. Beth hires a wedding planner named Erika Alfonso, who also planned Brad and Lavinia's wedding. I'm sure you can guess how Samantha feels about the fancy wedding planner, but she handles it remarkably well given that I fully support bopping Beth over the head at this point. Erika is just leaving when Shining goes into early labor even though she's only five months along. Dr. Smith (hello again, Max's mom) moves her to her vet clinic. Shining loses the foal and will not be able to have another, but is okay otherwise. Tor very supportively tells Samantha that this is "a rotten thing to happen." What is wrong with him in this book? Has he lost all sense of how to be a decent person? Are you sure you want to marry this guy, Sammy?
Brad and Lavinia pop over to the clinic to let Samantha know that they've booked the country club for their own party on December 7. DUN DUN DUN. Samantha and Tor don't really mind, and plan for a small wedding in February instead. Mandy, who's been hanging around all throughout this book, loves Shining so much that Samantha decides to move her to Whisperwood to recover, so she can hang out with Mandy and Mandy can draw her picture and bring her flowers and love her and squeeze her and call her Bob.
Tor and Samantha take Sierra to a steeplechase at Bright Meadows in October. They see a horse called Miss Battleship, who has Man o' War in her bloodlines. (Helpful hint: This is your famous horsie reference of the book.) Sammy wins her 'chase on Sierra, and Miss Battleship's owner asks her to ride Miss Battleship. They finish sixth. The owner is disappointed and plans to sell her, so Samantha and Tor take the money they were going to use for their honeymoon and buy Miss Battleship instead.
Sammy and Beth shop for a wedding dress and "a pair of white lace-up boots," which, I don't know, maybe it's just me, sound perfectly hideous. At dinner, Ian announces that Len has decided to retire to Indiana to be near his daughter and grandchildren. Wow, Len! Remember him? And they mention Charlie too! Hot damn. Mike hires George Ballard as the new manager of the stallion barn.
Ashleigh gets thrown from a horse during a work and fractures a vertebra. The doctor advises that she not race anymore. Yay, more continuity! It's mentioned in earlier books that Ashleigh stopped racing because of back problems. Sammy wants to postpone the wedding again so Ashleigh can be in it. She and Tor decide to have a small civil ceremony.
So even though they agree on that, in the weirdest case of five-year-old logic ever, Samantha decides that she and Tor aren't "meant" to get married, and "Maybe Maureen and I will be silly old single ladies together, wearing purple and drinking tea together on the porch." I mean, WTF? (I've said that twice in this recap now, haven't I? Remind me again of why I was looking forward to this book?)
Then, just in time, Ashleigh and Cindy et. al. throw Sammy a surprise wedding shower, and make plans for a horseback wedding next week. I guess they've been taking a page out of The Saddle Club. Sammy rides sidesaddle on Pride, which, aside from the whole wedding dress and sidesaddle and horseback wedding and that hideous pink thing she's wearing on the cover, is kind of sweet. Samantha and Tor open presents and discover that they're going to Ireland for a month for a honeymoon.
Then we are blasted back to the present, in which apparently Samantha has been talking to herself the whole time Ashleigh, Christina, and Cindy have been cleaning out the room. Well, what can I say. I guess Cindy doesn't have a monopoly on complete and total obliviousness.
Points of Interest:
- We find out that Max Smith went to vet school in California and is presumably a vet out there. This is a pretty good throwaway line, since a) it explains what happened to him, b) it gives a reasonable explanation for why he and his mom aren't around, and c) he mentioned wanting to be a vet in the first book he appeared in (Glory's Triumph). Of course, Cindy "wanted" to be a vet then too. How times have changed.
- Apparently Samantha sometimes slips "into a hint of the Irish brogue she had picked up from her years in Ireland." Having lived with people from the UK and Australia in high school, I can verify that this is true, but my god, it sounds so ridiculous.
- For Yvonne's wedding, Samantha carries a bouquet of "yellow rosebuds and pink-tinged orchids … tiny blue forget-me-nots and delicate fronds of maidenhair fern." Maybe Mary Newhall was a florist in another life.
- Apparently Tor's barn has been called Whisperwood the whole time, like say, during those 15 Old Generation books when it didn't have a name. This makes more sense than Tor and Samantha moving back from Ireland and buying a different barn and naming it Whisperwood, but it doesn't seem like a very Mr. Nelson-ish name to me. (Claire also mentioned this in her recap of Racing Parker, the first time we encountered this Whispercrap.)
- Wonderpony watch: Vic Taleski rides a daughter of Glory and Princess. Her name isn't mentioned; my money's on March to Princess.
- Leap of Faith appears in this book as a broodmare. What the eff … I don't even try to keep track of her anymore.
- Mandy draws a picture of a chestnut horse, which "looks exactly like Shining." Except for the part where Shining is a roan. Perhaps she's turning into a full Wonderpony.
- Ashleigh rides a two-year-old name Jazz Dancer, a son of Blues King and Precocious. I think they should have insisted on a paternity test. With that name, he is obviously by Jazzman.
Next up: Ah, the lost-diary-from-the-past book that rivals Cindy's Desert Adventure for the winner of the Stupidest Title Award: Samantha's Irish Luck.