Jan 13, 2015

I'm sick of winter! Here's Appaloosa Summer

Appaloosa Summer
Island Trilogy # 1
by Tudor Robins
June 2014

Sixteen-year-old Meg Traherne has never known loss. Until the beautiful, talented horse she trained herself, drops dead underneath her in the show ring. Jared Strickland has been living with loss ever since his father died in a tragic farming accident. Meg escapes from her grief by changing everything about her life; moving away from home to spend her summer living on an island in the St. Lawrence River, scrubbing toilets and waiting on guests at a B&B. Once there, she meets Jared; doing his best to keep anything else in his life from changing. When Jared offers Meg a scruffy appaloosa mare out of a friend’s back field, it’s the beginning of a journey that will change both of them by summer’s end.

The Cover:
Not gonna lie, I judge books by their cover. I really like this one, simple, a little YA cliche if I wanted to waste some snark on it, but really pretty and feels warm and comfortable, which sums up this book very well.

The Plot:
We open up with Meg having a reoccurring nightmare of her horse Major dying under her in the show ring, leaving Meg with a nasty concussion and an extra large helping of grief. Struggling not only with that, but the knowledge that her best friend is leaving the country in the fall for university, selling her own horse and leaving the sport in the process, has Meg reeling and looking for an escape. As luck would have it, friends of the family offer her a job for the summer at their Bed and Breakfast, and Meg, not really wanting to spend the summer showing on another horse, unsure if she really wants to show at all again, agrees.

On the island she settles into the job and living alone in her family's summer cottage. She doesn't throw the typical horse girl "I'll never love another horse / I never what to have anything to do with horses" nonsense out, as she quickly becomes familiar with all the local animals as she goes out jogging every morning. Along the way, she also becomes rather familiar with one handsome young man, Jared.

Striking up a friendship / flirtation with Jared, she ends up talking about Major, he in return shares his own grief over the death of his father, his fear of leaving the island, etc. Their romance is very sweet and natural, and as Jared wants to help Meg, he takes it upon himself to find her a new horse, an appaloosa mare by the name of Salem.

As Meg works with Salem, she comes to terms with her grief over losing Major. She finds a young protegee in Jared's cousin Lacey, and at the end of the summer it's Lacey who takes Salem to the big show, and ultimately it's Lacey who ends up owning the mare. Meg and Jared confess their love for each other, and make plans to see each other after the summer ends. The novel ends just beautifully.

Points of Interest: 
  • Meg is just a fantastic character. Her heartbreak feels real, her grieving process and her character development are so natural, and even the romance just feels so normal that it kind of threw me for a loop. Granted, the last book I read involved body swapping, so maybe my "normal bar" is set pretty low right now...
  • This book has so many beautiful, quiet moments. The one that most sticks out in my mind is one where Meg rows out into the bay and leaves a braid of Major's mane that she's been keeping the whole book. As the owner of a few such braids myself, I found myself tearing up over it.
  • The fact that Salem wasn't an abuse case, wasn't wild or broken or any sort of cliche was so damn refreshing. Meg loves Salem, and ends up selling her to Lacey. It's only slightly bittersweet, mostly it just feels really good.  
In Conclusion: 
I read this book in a single day. It's not short, it's just lovely enough that I didn't want to put it down. I bought the physical copy of this book and I'm glad to have it on my shelf. The second book has not yet been listed on Amazon, but you can bet I will be getting it the moment it's available. Really can't recommend this book enough guys, go read it!