REVIEW: Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 0:00
Posted in category Review

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Sandy M’s review of Where the Horses Run (Heroes of Heartbreak Creek, Book 2) by Kaki Warner
Historical Western Romance published by Berkley 1 Jul 14

While I love the old west as written by Kaki Warner and I’ve enjoyed every minute she’s given readers with Heartbreak Creek characters, this time she takes our cowboys, Indians, and horses to England. All that stuffiness across the pond had never seen the like of our hero, Rayford, and his trusty Indian sidekick, Thomas. What fun I had as they brought their own brand of excitement to the British.

Nothing better to do at the moment and nowhere else to go after leaving behind memories he’d rather not have of Texas, Rayford Jessop takes the long trip to the English countryside to round up horse stock for  his new friend Ash. Keeping an eye on the exasperating Indian Thomas is a job all in itself, especially once he meets the captivating Josephine Cathcart. Rafe also takes on the job of rehabilitating her prize stallion after a horrific accident in the last race he ran.

Josie and her son live with her father, a man who made his money in mining but who’s now lost it all through drinking and gambling. He’s at the point where his schemes no longer work and he’s using Josie to lure wealthy men he’ll force her to marry just to make his life easier. If it weren’t for her son and the horses, especially the injured Pems, she’d never be able to get past her father’s machinations and the town’s quiet but obvious disdain of her fallen reputation.

I love these two main characters. Rafe may think he has nothing to offer Josephine – the reason he first keeps his attraction in check – but the man is as honorable, gentle, and kind as the day is long. His past has shaped him into the observant horse whisperer he is. The early scenes when Josie’s irritation shows at Rafe’s stinginess with words are such fun as they get to know one another. Also enjoyable are the scenes as Josie’s backbone becomes more rigid where her father is concerned. Of course, she has huge decisions to make, especially about her son’s future, let alone her own, but I want to scream every time she has doubts after speaking to her father. The man is only out for himself.

The best thing about this story is how all the characters fit together. Even the villains. They have their moments, especially the jerk in the race near the end of the book. We get to see a lot of Ash and Maddie, since it is Ash who is looking for stock to take back to Heartbreak Creek. Maddie befriends Josephine, and Josie takes to the friendship like a duck to water. She’s never had such closeness with another female, save her maid, and that’s a different thing entirely. I especially like the relationship that grows between Rafe and Jamie, Josie’s son. The boy couldn’t have picked a better father figure.

I enjoyed this change of pace, but I’m also happy we got back to Heartbreak Creek at the end, even for a few pages. So I’m definitely looking forward to spending a lot more time with all those beloved townsfolk in the next book. This story can be read as a stand-alone, but if you’re just new to Kaki Warner, I’d definitely start at the beginning, because her lineup of characters and all that happens with them are fun, emotional, heart wrenching; you’ll laugh out loud and you’ll tear up here and there. So why miss all of that by starting five-plus books in?

sandym-iconGrade: A

Summary:

A lawman turned wrangler and a desperate Englishwoman risk everything for a wounded horse–and for each other.

Wounded in body and spirit after a shootout, Rayford Jessup leaves his career as a lawman and uses his gift with damaged horses to bring meaning to his solitary life. Hired by a Scotsman in Heartbreak Creek to purchase thoroughbreds, he travels to England, unaware that a traumatized horse and a beautiful Englishwoman will change his life forever.

Josephine Cathcart loves two things: her illegitimate son and her injured stallion. Faced with her father’s looming bankruptcy, she must choose between a loveless marriage to the man who ruined her, or risk her horse and her future on a handsome, taciturn Texan and a high-stakes horse race. But as vengeful forces conspire against them, will Rafe’s love and healing touch be enough to save her horse and protect her and her son?

No excerpt available.

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