Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, are about to capture the World Cup when a nasty fall dashes their chances. While she is mending, her arch rival seizes this opportunity to catch a ride on Marshal, and to seduce her young husband. Confused and dazed by her new circumstances, Gemcie heads for the high Sierras hoping the majestic spires that captured the heart of the father she never met will provide the answers she seeks. She finds strength and solace riding solo on the John Muir Trail, but a bear attack ends her time of introspection and places her in the care of a solitary cowboy manning a fire lookout. Brady, who seems to love animals more than people, shows her love and gives her the courage to get back in the saddle. Haunted by images of Marshal being abused by his owners, Gemcie returns to rescue him and fly high with him once more. Ballou’s prose gallops ahead at breakneck speed as she takes you along on this wild ride.
Horse-related books make me feel so alive... Especially when I'm away from my horses and I desperately want to ride them. This one was no exception and I truly enjoyed my time reading.
I found the beginning of the book rushed and hard to keep up with, which is why I feared it wouldn't be as good as I expected it to be. However, as soon as I started reading it again, the story hooked me and I couldn't stop reading. The landscape descriptions, the feelings of freedom, the calmness of the mountains... Everything made me relax and want to know what would happen next. I didn't expect the story to develop this way, but I'm glad it did, because I didn't experience once more the lack of interest I had at the beginning.
I loved how passionate Gemcie is. All she has ever known is a world of horses and her only hopes are to get to the World's Cup. I admired her for her courage and her determination and her love for Marshal reminded me of my own for my horse, making me wish I could've raised her, too. I wish Gemcie had realized how lucky she was to be supported that much by her mother, because it took her a lot of money and hard work to allow her daughter to pursue her dreams.
Part of the reason why I wasn't interested in the story at the beginning was the fact that I couldn't care less about Jorge, Gemcie's husband. Since the story begins when they're already married, I didn't get much details about their love, the only ones not really helping me believe they were right to marry so young. I was surprised to learn that Gemcie was already someone's wife, especially since I didn't think it was wise of her with all her dreams, so not believing in their love made it hard for me to be interested in the story.
I loved how realistic the story is and how much Gemcie grows from the beginning to the end, because everything that she went through changed her forever, and for the better. All of her friendships and relationships created during her hard times made me smile and happy for her. The story shows how hard it actually is to ride, which I know very well, and how much support from the people around you you need to get to such a high level of competition. I think even readers who don't ride would enjoy getting to know more about this sport, although it might be hard for them to understand all of the terms.
I would recommend this novel, especially to my horse lover friends here.
(Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
I also did an interview with the author, which you can read here.