Read the First Chapter of HOME, Book 7 of The Eventing Series

The finale to my bestselling Eventing Series arrives February 22, 2022. Before you panic, there WILL be another series after this one featuring Jules and Pete – along with all the friends they’ve made along the way, and some new arrivals. I’ll have a sneak peek of this new series in the back of Home, so don’t miss what comes next!

In Home, Jules deals with the fall-out of the explosive news she received at the end of Prospect, and sets off on a quest to find the place she and Pete can finally call home.

For a special preview of Chapter One of Home, read on.

You can preorder Home from Amazon here:

And from my Author Direct store here: (through Feb. 21 only).

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The Eventing Series is available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Read the entire series on Kindle Unlimited through May 7, 2022.


Mickey tugged at the bit, asking for room to run, and for a moment, I was tempted to let him have it.

After all, there was no one around to be shocked at the trainer of Alachua Eventing Co-op, galloping her horse like a madwoman in the pasture on a quiet August day. Breaking all her own rules, because it was hot and sticky, the high sky of late summer white around the edges, as if the blue was being leached away by sheer heat.

I was rarely alone in summer, but the farm was quiet for a rare hour. Pete was riding a horse in Ocala, and the barn kids had all decamped to High Springs for lunch at the sandwich shop. Going out to lunch had been the new novelty for them this summer, thanks to a few of the older kids acquiring driver’s licenses and cars—plus the addition of Kit to our farm line-up. Kit brought a new level of fun-loving, good-natured spirit to Alachua Eventing Co-op. Everyone loved her, and everyone wanted to drag her to lunch and ask her about her horses, and the World Equestrian Games, and what it was like to go from the Young Riders program to becoming an international competitor.

She certainly took the pressure off me right when I needed the help. Adding her as an assistant instructor was a stroke of genius on my part, if I did say so myself.

And I wasn’t even that jealous of her.

I mean, okay, I was a little jealous of Kit. And sometimes, at four o’clock in the morning when I couldn’t sleep, I would lay next to Pete and listen to Marcus snoring gently and think about Kit making the team while I retired my Advanced horse, Dynamo, from upper-level competition. 

And I’d think about how Kit was young, younger even than me, and she was now a hot prodigy on the eventing circuit. While I was almost thirty, and pregnant. Pregnant, while Kit was still in her mid-twenties and definitely not pregnant, and competing at a higher level than I had been at her age. 

And who still had an Advanced horse in Big Dan, while I had one retiree, one horse running at Intermediate who might be ready to step up before I took off for maternity, and one horse being ridden by one of my students—who was almost certainly going to buy him. 

Which left me with just Mickey when I came back from my maternity break, in the spring.

One horse in competition, when I once had six.

But I wasn’t going to dwell on that. No—I wasn’t washed up quite yet. I just had a few things to take care of, and then I’d be back in the running for top-level competition, and Kit had better watch out then!

“Just a few, small things,” I said to myself, running a hand over the bump in my riding tights, and at that moment, Mickey sensed the looseness in my left rein and plunged forward.

So, we were galloping now. I pushed my hands down on his neck and let him go.

“Yes,” I sighed, feeling him rev up beneath me. It had been too long since we’d galloped. 

He had a long, powerful stride—Mickey had been a racehorse before he’d been my big event horse, and he remembered how to use his body for maximum efficiency, digging down against the bit and throwing his weight onto his forelegs to give his hindquarters more room to act as the engine. I let him use this gallop to our advantage on the long lanes between jump complexes on the cross-country course; Mickey could make time on the hottest, most oppressive Florida day, when all those bulky half-Thoroughbred, half-warmbloods were starting to feel every inch of their extra height and bone. The eventing community had moved from its roots, no longer scavenging former cavalry mounts and racehorses and instead breeding powerful jumping machines, but the ex-racehorse still had a shot in this fast-moving world of elite equestrian sport. The big horses simply couldn’t outrun the Thoroughbreds, not forever.

So, I let Mickey run. This was just my big horse and me, galloping across the broad fields as if our lives depended on it, and it felt amazing.

I laughed with exhilaration, and his ears flicked back to listen before he doubled down and lengthened his stride once more, his hooves making a satisfying thunder on the ground.

Ahead of us, the fence line appeared, black boards making a bold barricade against the jungle-green grass. I let Mickey’s long strides swing south, the horse running with confident self-assurance as he found the coop between the two pastures without having to be told. A cross-country horse running on autopilot—now that was the dream. He steadied himself as the coop rushed up to us, and I made sure I was out of his way before he took the jump, soaring out of stride like a steeplechaser.

I slipped the reins through my open fingers, giving him his head as he landed, and he found his stride and took off again, breath coming loudly through his cupped nostrils.

I resisted the urge to whoop with pleasure, but in my brain, I was howling at the pale moon overhead.

This was living—this was life—this was everything!

Mickey swept towards the farthest corner of the farm, hooves drumming a steady beat on the ground. 

Then the sun went behind a cloud, taking the glitter out of the day with startling suddenness. A rumble seemed to lift out of the surrounding air, and I knew that the best gallop in the world couldn’t outrun a Florida storm.

Time to go back to the barn. Now I just had to get this big horse under control. I reined back gently, wobbling the bit, trying to get his attention without yanking. I didn’t care for sudden movements or sharp tugs these days; they seemed to strain the skin around my stomach, which was already working pretty hard without being tested by a tough horse. It took a while to get Mickey’s mind back on me.

But in the farthest corner of the field, Mickey finally slowed, his need to gallop sated at last. I sat down in the saddle as he settled down to a walk, head nodding. The blood vessels on his neck popped up from his hot skin, hustling to get the oxygen through his body. He threw his head, tossing foam from his bit through the air to land on my shirt and boots.

“That was tough work, buddy,” I told him, “but you seemed to have a good time.”

A new peal of thunder rolled through the pastures and lapped around the pine trees at the edges of the farm, like water splashing against a seawall. The storm was coming up quickly. Mickey didn’t so much as flick an ear at the sound, but I turned him towards the barn, keeping close to the fence-line and the imaginary safety of the tall pines on the other side. Lightning hadn’t struck me yet, not in nearly thirty years of Florida life, and it probably wouldn’t today, but I still preferred not to be the tallest object in the middle of a pasture when a storm blew in.

Still, when my phone starting buzzing madly from the pocket on my riding tights, I hesitated a moment before I pulled it out. There was something magnetic about phones, right? But they couldn’t attract lightning, could they?

I would be the first to admit to myself, although to no one else, that maybe I didn’t pay enough attention in high school and there were some gaps in my knowledge of anything that wasn’t horses. Pregnancy had certainly taught me I knew more about horse anatomy than human. Every doctor’s appointment was a new and unpleasant journey through my own body, as the doctor and nurses explained, in unnecessary detail, all the things happening inside.

I told them I was better off not knowing all of it, but they had some crazy idea that knowledge was important.

I gave in and pulled out my sweaty phone, grimacing at the dampness on the glass face. Then I saw the name on the screen and made an even more disgusted face. Suwannee Valley Health.

Ugh, ugh, ugh. The doctor again.

The practice’s full name was Suwannee Valley Health Associates of Alachua, and everyone in the office was very nice, including my main doctor, Alberta Waddell, but just because they were pleasant people didn’t mean I wanted to talk to any of them outside of an appointment. Of which I already had too many—I’d been to the doctor more times in the past three months than at any point in the past five years of professional riding in Ocala. Poked and prodded and smeared with goo—I was starting to see what sporthorses must feel like, with our constant ultrasounds and MRIs and X-rays, all our “just to be sure nothing’s going on in there” diagnostics.

I poked the green button unwillingly and hit the speakerphone option. “Jules here,” I announced, as lightning raised a crackle on the line.

Mickey flicked his ears at the sound of my voice, so much louder than usual.

“Ms. Thornton,” a receptionist replied. She had a twangy Southern accent. “This is Suzie at Suwannee Valley Health Associates.” As if every phone didn’t broadcast the caller’s name already. “Just calling to ask if you have time to speak with Dr. Waddell. Would that be alright?”

“I can’t come in for an appointment, if that’s what you mean,” I replied evasively, thinking of the time it would take to shower Mickey and put him away, shower myself and get dressed, and drive down to Alachua. It would be three o’clock before I got there. And I was really counting on a nap after this ride. A surprise appointment would eat the entire afternoon.

“No, just on the phone, honey.”

Oh. “Yeah, that’s fine,” I said. A sharp crack of thunder punctuated my words, and I looked around for the leading edge of the storm. There it was, dark clouds lined with cottony white, cresting the top of the pine forest to our west. It would be pouring in five minutes. I mentally measured the walk back to the barn. Four minutes?

“Ms. Thornton?” Dr. Waddell’s voice was the opposite of Suzie’s: slower, low-pitched. She was Canadian. “How are you today?”

“Just fine,” I said. “Taking it easy.”

Technically, I was. At my visit with Dr. Waddell last week, she’d asked me to go easy on myself while she waited for some test results to come back, and I’d immediately scaled back my riding and teaching plans. The gallop on Mickey might not have been planned, but I hadn’t done anything dangerous. Still, I couldn’t help but run my free hand over my belly. Everything felt okay in there. You’re fine, baby, I told my passenger, sure that telekinesis was part of the package with pregnancy.

It was hard to be pregnant. I couldn’t lie about that. My body was doing its best to work against me, and I was expected to do my best not to see it that way, but it was hard. Here we were in late August, and already everything felt different from the way I’d felt in June, when I’d found out the truth about the little flock of butterflies in my stomach. My boots didn’t fit properly, I was wearing riding tights instead of breeches for the first time in my life (and damn if they weren’t comfortable), and my balance had a way of changing from one day to the next.

Luckily, I had moved past randomly throwing up in the barn aisle, but not before the kids had gotten so used to it, no one even muttered, “Ew,” but just fell into a routine: one person handed me a bottle of water while someone else went for a shovel and scattered shavings on the spill so it could be scooped up and thrown on the manure pile. 

And of course, Pete treated me like a crystal vase which could only be handled with white gloves, but that wasn’t as annoying now as it had been when he’d started it—only sweet, only a reminder of how thoughtful and kind and loving he was. Pete, my fiancé, who didn’t mind at all that I was completely unwilling to discuss a wedding. I had too much else going on to even think about something so insane, and he got it. 

He was in the same position, after all.

Dr. Waddell started to speak, then paused as a crackle of lightning broke up our conversation for a moment. “Are you outside?” she asked, distracted.

“Yes,” I admitted, hoping the squeak of leather wouldn’t give away just where outside I was.

“In this heat?”

“I’m used to it.”

A sigh. “Ms. Thornton—”

“Can you call me Jules? I’m sorry, I’m just not used to the other way.”

“Jules.” Dr. Waddell’s voice was almost warm, which was a nice change. “Here’s the thing. Nothing is wrong, but I have to advise you take extra care.”

And then she started talking about numbers and levels and weights and a lot of other stuff that all added up to one thing by the time Mickey stopped at the closed pasture gate and I had to hop down to open it. Not really hop, either—I got down from the saddle very slowly and cautiously, causing my horse to turn and look at me curiously as I tried to hit the ground as lightly as possibly.

I told Dr. Waddell thanks and agreed to come back in a week’s time, and then I slid the phone into the pocket of my tights. For a moment, I didn’t know what to do. Not now, not this week, not this season. My world had just shifted, and honestly, this many moves in a single year were just about more than I knew how to handle.

I was supposed to have two more months—two more months in which to finish qualifying Mickey for our goal events next spring, two more months to make our mark as a team who couldn’t be split up. By mid-October, we’d have the finishes we needed and I could gracefully bow out for the winter, returning next spring with a new Advanced horse ready for serious competition at the highest levels.

These last two months were supposed to be the glue that held us—and my career—together.

I looked at Mickey, his dark mane blowing back in the suddenly gusty wind. The light was going quickly and his near-white coat, darkened with sweat, was the color of slate. His breath had calmed nicely on the walk back to the barn; Mickey was blindingly, brilliantly fit. Ready for a full fall eventing season.

But apparently, I was not.

Preorder Home from Amazon Kindle for 2/22/2022 delivery!

Or buy in paperback from your favorite book retailer. See links here.

Home: The Eventing Series

Sea Horse Ranch: New Beachy Chick Lit!

If you love horses and the beach and stories about strong women finding themselves, have I got a great read for you! Sea Horse Ranch is coming to ebook and paperback on January 18th, 2022. And you’re going to love it.

Katie LeBlanc never expected to find herself hitchhiking away from Key West after a gig gone wrong. Booed offstage and kicked out of the band she’s been traveling with for the past year, she figures she has to start over with everything, and she doesn’t even know where to start.

But when a kind woman offers her a ride and a safe place to stay for the night, Katie realizes her adventures are beginning already.

A quiet island paradise, eccentric locals, a herd of mustangs, a prodigal son with a mountain-man beard and arresting eyes: what is this enchanted place? And can she stay forever please?

As Katie becomes accustomed to island life, she realizes she’d do anything to keep this place safe from harm. And it’s a good thing, too. Because it turns out Sea Horse Ranch is in need of saving — and Katie’s old contacts in the music industry might hold the key to keeping her new home from being destroyed forever.

With beautiful scenery, fun characters, and just enough romance, Sea Horse Ranch is destined to become your new favorite reading escape!

Read Chapters One & Two Below!

Find Sea Horse Ranch at all major ebook and paperback retailers beginning January 18th, 2022.

Preorder Sea Horse Ranch in ebook here:

More stores: click here

Preview Sea Horse Ranch now!

Chapter One

I put up my thumb as another truck passed, but this time it just felt like habit. The hot breath of exhaust it left behind only added to my general sticky grossness. I needed a twenty-five-minute shower and an entire bottle of body wash.

But the prospect of finding a place to bathe and rest was feeling increasingly unlikely.

How had I found myself walking up the side of a two-lane highway deep in the Florida Keys? Oh, the same way dreamy girls always got into this kind of mess.

Chasing a dream and a hot guy.

“This is always how it was going to end,” I muttered to myself, watching my toes in my hot pink flip-flops as I walked carefully, one step after another, into the hard-packed white sand along the side of U.S. 1. “There was never any other outcome in play. You run away from home, you sing in a band, you sleep with the singer, and you get kicked out. At the literal end of the continent. Typical Katie.”

Yeah, somewhere deep inside, I’d probably known. Of course, it would all end in tears and hitchhiking my way towards home. The only unknown had been where it would end.

Wasn’t it just my luck that fateful spot would be at Mile Marker 0?

* * *

Another pickup truck roared past, this one hauling a small flat-bottomed boat. It bounced along on a trailer with squeaky shocks. They sure loved their boats and pickups down here in the Florida Keys. I liked them, too. Keys culture reminded me a lot of home, back up in the soggy saltwater marshes along the Gulf Coast. Sure, up in Louisiana we spiced our shrimp with Cajun seasoning and down here it came blackened with Jamaican jerk spices, but the general attitude towards life was the same: you got up, you put on your tank top and your flip-flops, and then you fished as much as was humanly possible. Finish off the day with a six-pack or three, depending on your tolerance, and sleep it all off before another big day tomorrow.

That leisurely lifestyle was the only one I’d ever known before I took off with The Bombers. It was how my mom and dad lived, and my brothers, and my uncles and my aunts and my cousins, and everyone else I knew back in St. Bart Bay. It was how I was supposed to live. So, it had come as quite the surprise to the whole lot of them when I’d taken off for New Orleans to sing back-up with some strangers I’d met online.

Well, my mom called them strangers. I’d called them friends.

Kind of sucked that she’d been right. That’s the thing about moms, though, isn’t it? You never want them to be right. But it seems like they usually are. At least, my mom’s that way. Your mileage may vary.

The road quieted for a few minutes, no traffic in sight. It was almost calming: this empty strip of pavement marching through the sea. Water to my right, water to my left. On the right was a bright stretch of turquoise water, its gentle swells lapping against a short but serviceable white-sand beach, where a few spunky coconut palms were waving their fronds in the sea breeze. Beyond the shallow water, the Florida Straits stretched out to the horizon. No land until Cuba.

To the left, the water was deep blue, slapping gently against a grass-choked shore. Mangrove islands popped up across narrow channels, small hummocks of brush dotted with white birds. I understood water like that: not swamp, but not open sea, either. A waterlogged landscape, with islands which were more the tangled roots of trees than dry sand.

And running right up the middle: the sun-faded pavement of U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway. I stood along the roadside and gazed up the road’s center line, the two colors of sea blinking on either side of me. They merged again in the distance, the shocking brightness of Caribbean turquoise swallowed up by the darker water. But I felt like I’d seen their secrets. I knew they had different beginnings, those two seas.

A rumble from behind me signaled oncoming traffic. I put out my thumb reflexively, not bothering to look over my shoulder. They weren’t going to stop. No one stopped. Not the tourists in their white rental cars, heading back to Miami so they could fly home to parts north and forget their Floridays, the corresponding Jimmy Buffett playlist they’d played on repeat all holiday disappearing forever. Not the fishermen in their pickups. Not the snowbirds in their Buicks and their Cadillacs, zipping between the islands to buy groceries and pick up prescriptions.

The truck went by, a boatless model this time, although it had a big hitch on the back, and a diving flag decal on the rear window—those two were common markers of Monroe County truckdom. I was still studying the dents in the back bumper when the brake lights flashed on, and the truck pulled over onto the narrow, sandy shoulder.

Uh-oh, I thought. I got something on the line.

Hope it doesn’t have teeth.

* * *

A woman unfolded herself from the truck and walked back towards me. She looked like a typical Conch, just aging away in the sun. A turquoise tank top set off her dark tan and freckled chest, and her cut-off khaki shorts had seen their share of fish guts and motor oil, judging by the stains. She was wearing a sturdy pair of hiking sandals. In the Conch Republic, flip-flops were not required, but socks and shoes were never the correct choice. Her gray and brown hair was drawn back into a ponytail, and the strands bulged in protest, humidity fluffing it into a wild bush.

She looked kind of like my mom.

She looked the way I figured I’d look in thirty years, give or take a decade of hard living.

She also had kind, pale blue eyes which fastened on me as she stopped a short distance away. A respectful distance. She tipped her head. “You crazy, girl?”

I loosened the strap of my backpack and let it fall to the ground, rubbing at my sore shoulder. Life had been easier when both straps were working. “No, just dumb,” I said ruefully.

She chuckled. “Where you headed?”

“North,” I said simply. That was usually enough. A direction was all anyone offering a ride needed to know, in my opinion. And I’d been hitching since I was fifteen, which was a solid eleven years, thanks for asking, so I had a pretty informed opinion on the subject.

But the saltwater in her veins wasn’t cold enough to just let me off the hook with a simple cardinal direction. “North where?”

“By northeast, judging by the road ahead,” I joked, pointing up U.S. 1. The highway didn’t actually turn north until it hit the mainland—or Key Largo, which a lot of the Lower Keys folks seemed to think was the mainland.

She wasn’t having it. “Honey, I’m trying to find out if you’ve got a problem you need help with.”

The word problem was gently stressed. 

She meant a man.

“He’s not my problem anymore.” I smiled gamely, to let her know it was fine. My heart wasn’t ripped out or anything. Just stomped on a little. It was my pride that needed worrying about. “You heard of the Saltwater and Sunsets Music Festival? Over the weekend down in Key West?”

She nodded. “Sure. Another big tourist weekend in Key West. They have a way of drawing all the drivers right past the other islands.”

She sounded almost…bitter? As if she wanted some of the tourists to stay. Well, that wasn’t the normal reaction. Now I was curious. Curious enough to hitch my bag back over my shoulder and keep talking. “I was down for that, performing. Only now I’m not in the band anymore. So I need a way home. Think you could just get me a few more miles up the road? I can camp on the beach if I don’t find my way all the way to Miami.”

I didn’t really know what I’d do in Miami. Maybe give up, call my mom, beg for a plane ticket home. I’d rather do almost anything else. Clean toilets. Rake seaweed. Pick up garbage. Whatever it took to avoid groveling. I was prepared for something good to happen, just in case the universe wanted to go off-script for an afternoon.

“Well, if you want to keep going north, sure,” the woman agreed. She looked me over again, from my sandals to my straw hat. “Or if you want to stop for a night or two and get your head back on straight, you can stay at the ranch. I find folks always feel good after they’ve spent some time talking to my horses.”

The word ranch was unexpected. I would have been less surprised if she’d suggested I stay overnight in her hot-air balloon. I looked from side to side: the dark water of the bay, the turquoise of the strait. Then back and forth, up and down this narrow road, running through the narrow chunk of coral and coquina that passed for dry land in this sunken part of the world. Still didn’t make sense. I asked, politely as I could, “The ranch?”

And that was what did it: the faded blue in her eyes positively sparkling, the smile on her face as warm and welcoming as if I’d found out the secret password. “Yes, ma’am. I run Sea Horse Ranch,” she announced. “Name’s Crystal Linney.” She took a few steps closer and held out a calloused, sun-dotted hand. I took it.

“Katie LeBlanc,” I replied, feeling the steely strength in her hand. “I’m a retired singer.”

“Retired!” She looked me up and down with surprise. “Honey, you look pretty young for retirement.”

“Well, it isn’t by choice,” I said, grinning to take the sting out. “But you know how it is. Tough world out there.”

“It sure is,” Crystal Linney agreed. “It sure is. That’s why I try to avoid it, best as I can.”

Chapter Two

Crystal took back her hand, her expression still bemused. “I don’t know, though, retired? You look a little young to be using the r word.”

I spread my hands innocently. “Sometimes you get forced out, y’know? I’m just trying to keep a positive outlook on life. Everyone wants to be retired, right?”

Crystal grinned and beckoned me to follow her as a semi-trailer blew past, scattering gravel. “Come on. Let’s get out of the shoulder before one of us ends up roadkill.”

Well, I’d made my choice. And while I usually liked to ride in the back of a  pickup—with hitching, quick getaways can be the name of the game—I gamely climbed up into the passenger side of Crystal’s truck. It was an old Chevy with a bench seat covered by a brightly colored Navajo blanket, a lot of sand and grass clippings on the rubber floor mats, and a pile of mail in the middle.

“Don’t mind the mess,” Crystal advised, unembarrassed. “I pick up the mail in town once a week and forget it.”

“Where’s town?” I put my backpack at my feet. A little grass wouldn’t hurt it, not after the places that bag had already gone with me. “Key West?”

“You got it. Even though I live closer to Big Pine.”

I remembered Big Pine Key from the drive south. I’d wanted to creep into the back streets behind U.S. 1, maybe find some of those elusive Key Deer that people talked so much about. But I didn’t know if the locals would welcome some hitchhiker wandering their quiet neighborhoods. Back in St. Bart Bay, a vagrant got told which road to take on their way out of town, and they were watched until they were a tiny dot in the distance.

“And where’s the…the ranch?” I asked, finding a hard time getting my mind around using that word out here. Crystal was pulling back onto U.S. 1, and a long bridge loomed ahead, connecting this little piece of sand with the next little piece of sand. Water spread all around us, sparkling in the southern sun. Where could there be a ranch out here?

“It’s just a few miles up this way, then over a couple little bridges on the bay side.” Crystal smiled to herself. “I call it Sea Horse Ranch. But we’re actually on a little island called Hell and Dammit Cay.”

“You’re on what?”

“Hell and Dammit,” she repeated, confirming I hadn’t heard her wrong. “Funny, right? Some old cuss named it that because he kept wrecking his shrimp boat on a reef just offshore. Then some government fellas came around when they was laying out the post office codes or something, and they asked for the name, wrote it down, and that’s what we got. Hell and Dammit Cay. That’s cay like key, by the way. Spelled C-A-Y but not pronounced that way. Don’t get it wrong, or you’ll sound like a tourist.”

I was almost afraid to ask Crystal anything else. So much to take in. A ranch. On an island named by an angry, mildly profane fisherman. And not for nothing, but apparently I’d been pronouncing the word cay wrong for like, a really long time. What else would I get wrong if I opened my mouth?

I decided I’d better just settle down and enjoy the view.

Crystal seemed fine with my silence. She pointed out places of interest as we passed them. “That there’s Half-Moon Beach. Roy Ellis caught a shark off that pier once that was filled with gold jewelry. No one ever explained how a shark could eat that much jewelry.” She chuckled to herself, then pointed at a low, brown building with several trucks parked in the sandy lot out front. “That’s the Slutty Mermaid Saloon. It doesn’t have a sign. That’s to keep the tourists away. Plus, if they put up a sign with that name, the morality police would probably go nuts. We got all types down here. Puritans and prostitutes. And look there—that’s the palm tree that my neighbor Marchant Davis tied up to when Hurricane Betty raised the water so fast, he was carried out to sea while he was still taking the sails down off his boat.”

I had to admit of all that crazy, the tree thing really got me. The palm tree was all by itself on a mound of sand at least twenty feet above the water. That palm tree was probably the highest point in the Florida Keys. I could see it surviving a storm surge, its fronds fluttering gamely, but, still, I was skeptical that someone could’ve tied their sailboat that high above solid ground. “Oh, now, that can’t be true.”

“I saw it with my own eyes, when I rowed over to check on poor old Marchant before the water went down,” Crystal informed me. “And there’s a photo of it hanging behind the bar of the Slutty Mermaid. Everything here was under water.”

“What about the ranch? Wasn’t it underwater?”

For a moment, Crystal’s easy-going expression slipped. “Well, the houses out there have stilts,” she said. “And we didn’t have any horses back then. Just goats. We took the goats with us up into the house and they were fine. Marchant replaced my floors, though. That floor wasn’t fine, believe me. I got rid of the blame things after that. Never again, I said.” She rested an elbow on the truck door and leaned her cheek on her hand, looking thoughtful. “We don’t get many storm surges that cover the islands, though.”

Then and there, I resolved I wouldn’t bring up hurricanes again. The big storms were a constant threat during the long, sultry summers in St. Bart Bay, too. We mostly dealt with them by building dikes and putting houses on stilts, but only one of those options would work out in the Keys, and I didn’t think horses would appreciate climbing up the stairs of a barn on stilts. They’d have to evacuate the horses to higher ground if a storm surge was forecast. Couldn’t be easy trying to get out of here in a normal car, with only one road for all these islands. It would be worse with a trailer full of horses, I was sure.

Just a few dozen feet past the Slutty Mermaid, Crystal turned down a narrow road paved only in sand and some kind of pulverized stone, shimmering white in the sunlight. I’d noticed these white roads in other parts of Florida; someone at a gas station outside Daytona Beach had told me it was likely limestone rock or crushed coquina, which was a crumbling blend of fossilized shells and prehistoric sands. It had a washboard surface in a few places, and deep pools of milky colored rainwater in the occasional pothole.

We were on a wide island, no trace of the bay on either side of the road, but instead there were deep, narrow ditches lining either side. The black water in their depths hinted at disappearing bodies and creatures of unusual size. This was something else I’d noticed about Florida: it wasn’t all palm trees and bikinis at all. Driving south in the band’s van, taking old highways to avoid expensive toll roads, I looked out at those ditches and vast swamps and figured those, more than anything else, were what gave Florida its endless potential for crazy crime. Things could just vanish in Florida.

I could vanish, if I kept on hitch-hiking here. Or if Crystal turned out to be a murderer. Anything was possible. But I pushed that thought out of my head.

Palms and occasional stands of bamboos grew thick behind the ditches. Little driveways humped over the moats from time to time, and rusting mailboxes proved not everyone had to haul down to Key West to get their catalogs and bills. I tried to peer down the driveways, but mostly just saw flashes of tantalizing color through the thick foliage.

“The houses here are pretty bright,” I observed, after seeing a coral-pink house through a quick break in the brush.

“Folks like to go their own way here,” Crystal said. “You move out onto these islands, no homeowner’s association is telling you what color to paint your house. Now, look here, this is the first bridge.”

Only one lane wide, and just about twelve feet long, the little concrete bridge made a disconcerting hum when the truck passed over it. Crystal laughed at my expression. “It’s a solid bridge, I swear. We call it the Humming Bridge.” I could hear the capital letters in her voice. “When it stops making that noise, that’s when we got trouble. Means something’s shifted and we gotta get a county engineer to come look.”

“What causes the humming?”

“Something about the rocks on either side, Marchant says.”

“The guy with the boat.”

“Well, we all have boats. But yeah, the hurricane boat. That’s Marchant. He has the place across the road from me. Old friend of mine. The best.” Crystal smiled to herself.

The island we were on now was even more intensely jungly than the last one, with only a few houses visible through thickets of palms and thickly leaved vines. I caught glimpses of coquina walls, an occasional boat resting quietly at a short pier. They didn’t even seem to be bobbing on the glassy waters. “So, which island is this?” I asked.

“This is Little Bucket Key. With a k, this time.”

“Why are some spelled like key and some like cay?” I pronounced ‘cay’ the wrong way on purpose this time.

“Depends on who wrote it down first,” Crystal explained. “Lotta the early folks here didn’t really know much spelling. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.”

We passed a mailbox with a red bucket turned over atop the post. “And that’s the little bucket,” Crystal said, and I didn’t even question it.

This was the Keys. Nothing was too weird to be true.

“Here’s the last bridge,” she said, pointing ahead. Also single-lane, but somewhat longer, the bridge to Hell and Dammit Cay sat low over the blue-green channel it crossed. It wouldn’t take much of a flood to cover that bridge, I thought. No wonder Marchant Davis tried to float away from the hurricane on his boat.

This bridge didn’t hum. But it did seem to tremble a bit. Crystal said nothing about the gentle wobble, and I decided not to bring it up. The water was shallow when you came right down to it.

“And here’s Hell and Dammit,” she said proudly as the truck’s tires connected with sand again and I permitted my clenched fists to relax. “A real hidden gem, we call it.” She braked to give me a moment to take it in.

I looked around. The island was small, and far more cleared out than Little Bucket Key. I could see the far shore ahead of us, less than a half-mile away, though the road ended well before that. Scruffy grass covered the ground between the road’s end and the rocky shore. The island seemed to be divided into quadrants, and four stilted houses rose from along the waterside. They’d been built to be identical, but I could tell their owners’ distinct personalities had altered them over the years. 

There were some good plantings of tropical hardwood trees and pretty flowering hedges along the road, plus some clusters of plain-Jane Sabal palms, like the ones that grew up in St. Bart Bay. If there were horses, or a ranch, I couldn’t see them. I guessed the thick foliage along the roadside was blocking the view.

Closer to the bridge we’d just crossed, the shorelines on either side ran away from the road with brief, tan-colored beaches. Tall white egrets and stilt-legged sandpipers stalked the sands. From a nearby rock, a green iguana regarded me leisurely. I blinked at it for a moment. It was the largest lizard I’d ever seen: at least six feet long, from horny nose to black-tipped tail.

“Oh yeah, that’s Roger,” Crystal said, nonchalant.

“Hey, Roger.”

The iguana slowly, deliberately, closed his eyes.

“Right,” I said.

Crystal chuckled and pointed over her steering wheel. “So just ahead and to the right, behind those banyan trees, is where my fencing begins. The yellow house you can see there is mine. And on the left, in that blue house, is where Marchant lives, and then just beyond that, in the pink house, that’s Stacy. You’ll love Stacy,” Crystal added comfortably, as if I was coming for an extended stay.

“Who lives in the fourth house?” I asked. “The sorta gray one?”

“No one,” Crystal said. “That was my dad’s house. It’s falling apart inside. Dunno when we’ll ever have enough money to fix it.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

Crystal shrugged. “We got enough for us,” she said. 

Then the truck moved past the trees and showed me the full, startling expanse of Sea Horse Ranch, and I forgot about the abandoned house.

Ready to find out more?

Find Sea Horse Ranch at all major ebook and paperback retailers beginning January 18th, 2022.

Preorder Sea Horse Ranch in ebook here:

More stores: click here

Preview Christmas at Catoctin Creek now

I’m excited to share the first three chapters of my upcoming holiday-themed novel, Christmas at Catoctin Creek, here at my site!

This fourth book in the Catoctin Creek series was supposed to be a novella, but as I wrote, the story let me know there was a lot more going on than the initial 35,000 words I’d planned for. So it’s now a full length novel, about the same length or a little longer than Springtime, the preceding book in the series. Pretty fun, right?

In this novel, all six of the former heroes and heroines of the first three Catoctin Creek novels return — plus some fun new arrivals.

When Rosemary is volunteered by a neighbor to take on twelve horses left behind by an elderly farmer’s death, she turns to Nadine and Nikki for help figuring out to pay and house the new horses. Nadine, now barn manager at the Long Pond girls’ school, has been looking for a way to get some of the misfit students from the school involved in horses. She sees an opportunity, but along with Nikki, all three women decide to think bigger: they’re going to bring back the Catoctin Creek Christmas Carnival, and run it as a fundraiser for Rosemary’s equine sanctuary.

But that’s not the only drama in town. A missing hiker has been bringing reporters to their town, among them, Kelly O’Connell of Arlington. Kelly came to Catoctin Creek to find answers about the missing hiker — a woman she has a strange personal connection with. She immediately falls for the small-town warmth of Catoctin Creek, a place where she wishes she could remake herself — if only she were that kind of person. Kelly knows she’s just going to be in and out once she’s found the missing woman.

If William lets her go. William Cunningham, the town’s favorite black sheep, is back from his annual wanderings out west. When he meets Kelly, he knows she’s in town for more than a live shot on the evening newscast — this woman is looking for answers, and she seems to think he’s up to something. William decides to steer clear of Kelly…but sometimes, trouble seeks a person out whether they want it or not…

Spend the holiday season with your friends at Catoctin Creek! Read the first three chapters here.

Flying Dismount is Now Available

The hotly-awaited sequel to my bestseller Grabbing Mane is here! For every reader who asked for more of Casey and James’s story, I’m so happy to bring this continuation.

Casey’s still trying to figure out life — aren’t we all, Casey? — but things have become more complicated. Her remote job allows her to live in West Palm Beach with Brandon, and she’s working in the horse industry, so on the surface, everything looks great. But the truth is, Casey’s struggling — with work, with living away from her friends, and with finding the time that her young Thoroughbred, James, needs from her.

Grabbing Mane/Flying Dismount paperbacks

When Casey gets sent on a business trip, she thinks she might have found a potential mentor in the owner of a southern California stable. But as she grows closer with the farm’s long-time working student, she finds problems beneath the surface. It turns out, nothing’s simple…for anyone!

Join Casey as she tries to get control of life, work, and friendship…and also figure out why Brandon has a pair of cowboy boots he doesn’t want her to know about!

Read Flying Dismount in paperback, in Kindle ebook, or as part of Kindle Unlimited (for a limited time only).

Find it here or order from your favorite bookseller.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1956575019

Reviews for Flying Dismount

From R.B. on Amazon:

On paper Casey’s life is perfect. In reality the dream job that allowed her to move with Brandon and her horse to West Palm is more like a monster taking over her life. James is no longer the quiet horse she was riding at home with a trainer. The marketing position in a horse show organizer start-up has evolved into countless hours of overtime and work way outside her job description. Brandon is still there, but thanks to the horse and job she hardly sees him. Then comes the call to organize a new show – in San Diego.

Once again Reinert brings relatable characters, accurate horse details and realistic equestrian settings to Casey’s struggle to find life balance and define horse, personal and professional goals. Reinert never disappoints. Recommended

From Lisa on Amazon:

This second book in the Grabbing Mane series highlights the true struggles we amateur equestrians have. Casey thinks she’s found her dream, but it just isn’t working. Her character is relatable in preferring to avoid conflict. The author ads a number of trainer/barn owner characters to the story that highlight the many different personalities and theories that exist in the horseworld. I appreciate this about her, she really gets how it is and creates a believable story. Just when we think things are going well, there is a wrench thrown in and we’re kept guessing.

I got a bit worried as the author dips a bit towards some social issues of the day. For recreational reading, I prefer to avoid hot buttons, as we’re confronted with them enough in real life. For leisure and escapism time I prefer to keep it lighter. Condemn me if you want, but it is what it is. However, Reinert balanced fairly well and doesn’t push these issues too far.

Overall, this is a great second act of a new series about the everyday equestrian balancing barn and work life, as opposed to the pros in her other series.

Order Flying Dismount now

Exclusive Presale: Flying Dismount

Have you been waiting for Flying Dismount, the follow-up to last year’s huge hit novel Grabbing Mane? Great news! This long-awaited novel releases this month – and if you’re ready to ditch the corporate side of things, you can buy it directly from me, right now.

I now offer every ebook which isn’t an Amazon exclusive direct from own store. Hosted by Payhip and offering full support from industry leader BookFunnel, it’s a fun, foolproof way to buy books direct. I can offer exclusive discounts, you can own your own book files without being tied to one device or service, and there’s no middleman taking a cut. What a win!

From now through September 27, 2021, you can buy the second book in the Grabbing Mane series direct from my store – and you can use Coupon Code HORSEGIRLS to save 25%, too!

Now available at my store!

You’ll be able to choose your download: get an ePub (for most digital reading apps, including ipad/iphone native app Apple Books), a Mobi (for Kindles and the Kindle app), or even a PDF.

Not sure what to do with them once you’ve got them? No problem! BookFunnel will send you an email offering quick, easy instructions on how to download and read your files. I promise it’s a piece of cake – I’ve been reading off-store book files for ten years now. In fact, that’s how I get most of my ebooks!

This presale for Flying Dismount is only good through September 27th – because I’m letting the book run for 90 days in Kindle Unlimited, which requires Amazon exclusivity. But you’ll find all of my non-exclusive titles in the store, plus some bundles you can’t buy on Amazon, and there’s always a Coupon Code. You might even find some exclusive deals!

So check out my direct store at Payhip, and don’t be afraid to use that coupon code, or refer a friend to get another one. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

Shop Author Direct now.

I’ve Got New Romance on Kindle Vella

Short, sweet, snappy chapters – a fun challenge for a writer like me!

And while my new novel Sea Horse Ranch still has the lushly-realized settings you love, I’m lingering a little less on the view and writing more about how it all makes us feel.

I’m really excited to bring the first book in my upcoming series Sea Horse Ranch to Kindle Vella, the serial novel platform built for readers on the go. And with the first three chapters free, plus as many as 200 free tokens from Vella to unlock future chapters, I’m pretty sure early adopters can read a lot of this book for free!

Sea Horse Ranch

Romance. Horses. The Florida Keys. What’s not to love?

Sea Horse Ranch ran on my Patreon earlier this year and was a big hit. This is a beach read with depth: a young woman hitchhiking north on U.S. 1 accepts a ride from a woman back to her tiny ranch in the Florida Keys, and meets a cast of characters who instantly find places in her heart. And when she learns that they need help saving their island paradise from the outside world, she knows she’ll do anything to help them.

Plus, there’s the enigmatic, mysterious son of the ranch owner. What’s his deal? Katie wants to find out – both for herself, and for the island’s future.

Dive into Sea Horse Ranch right now! Read the first three chapters on Kindle Vella for free. Look for regular updates throughout September and October 2021, until we reach the conclusion . . . of book one!

Get started at Kindle Vella – and be sure to hit like and follow on the store while you’re there!

The one caveat – Kindle Vella is only for U.S. users at this time. If you want to read Sea Horse Ranch and you can’t wait until the big release next summer, it’s also available for my Patreon subscribers. (Learn more here.)

Free books for Autumn 2021

It’s time for a free book roundup! Here are the books in my backlist you can download for free right now!

Bold: A Prequel – The Eventing Series

21-year-old Jules is new in Ocala, but she’s not afraid to go after what she wants. The young trainer sees a riding job that could open up opportunities for her in this horse country town. When she decides to after it with her customary take-no-prisoners approach, the established equestrian community doesn’t welcome her the way she expects! A prequel to the bestselling Eventing Series.

Free with email signup: StoryOrigin

Don’t like emails? No problem! It’s also available to purchase in paperback and ebook edition.

All Retailers

These books are free for a limited time! Enjoy, and feel free to share with friends ❤️

Visiting Disney’s Tri-Circle-D Ranch

Everyone knows I’m a fan of Disney horses. I love visiting the horses at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, where they keep the carriage and trolley horses, including the white ponies who pull Cinderella’s glass carriage. Last year, Disney opened a beautiful new barn and visitor’s area, but because of the pandemic, I didn’t get to visit.

Well, I finally got to pay a visit to the Happiest Horses on Earth, and I was not disappointed. The old barn was a rather dark center-aisle that was pretty much like every barn in Central Florida in the 80s and 90s. It looked almost exactly like the hunter barn where I learned to ride, and the boarding stable where I kept my first horse, and a dozen other barns I’ve been to in the Orlando area! The new one is lighter, airier, and has run-outs attached to each stall. It looks better for the horses and for the ranch-hands who take care of them.

And it’s great to visit! They built a special show barn at the front where visitors can see horses and take pictures, watch horses get groomed and bathed, see the pony-sized harness in a glass-fronted carriage room, explore Walt Disney’s love of horses and the equestrian heritage of the Walt Disney Company, and check out the incredible antique steam calliope which used to come out for holiday parades in the parks. (I haven’t seen this calliope in action since 2006, personally.)

Here’s a look at what I saw on my visit:

Ponies getting a bath

The first thing I spotted was an entire hitch – six white ponies – getting bathed for an evening wedding! You can walk right up to this big outdoor washrack and talk to the ranch hands doing the hard work of scrubbing and primping these ponies. They told me it takes two hours to wash and dry the ponies before a wedding. And you know how light-colored horses get dirty IMMEDIATELY, so that means every wedding gets this kind of salon treatment. A LOT of work, especially in the heat.

Tri Circle D Ranch Show Barn - Visitor Area

Visitors are only permitted in the special show barn at the front of the ranch. There are eight stalls, all facing out. We saw four horses inside: three Percherons, and a Clydesdale. Everyone was snoozing or finishing up their lunch hay. The stalls are spacious and very deeply bedded in pine shavings. While we were there, a ranch hand was dusting the railings – now that’s my kind of show barn!

The stalls are roped off to keep kid’s fingers from being eaten – pretty smart. The barrier actually makes them the perfect distance for selfies! This gorgeous gray Percheron is named Grady.

Just a beautiful Percheron taking a nice nap. The stalls are nice and deep, and really airy with all the open bars. Perfect for central Florida, where the prevailing breeze could be from the east, west, north, or south on any given day!

The pony rides at Fort Wilderness have always been really unique because instead of having a little corral to walk around, they have a long “track” type area. This one is new and quite sunny but hopefully the shade trees they’ve planted in the middle will grow up soon.

These ponies are waiting for pony ride custom. Surprise! The one in the center is Lilly, and she’s not taking rides. Just having a bit of grown-up time. Lilly is two years old and was made famous in this adorable photo when she was a wee filly:

Weirdly enough it was kind of easy to recognize her! I guess it’s that pink skin and the shape of her profile.

I am not a fan of pink-skinned horses but there’s no denying the charm of that photo. I just wonder how big poor Cinderella’s bruises were when they finally got the perfect shot. If you kneel in front of a foal you’re GOING to get stomped and pawed. That’s just what they do!

But as one of my readers on Facebook pointed out, a few bruises would be worth it for that photo.

The rest of the barn where the work is done is visible from the show barn, although this view is as close as visitors can get. I love the use of poles and light colored metal, and the translucent panels in the roof. I am guessing this barn was designed by someone back in Disney’s home base in California. I know they use a lot of metal poles in construction there, but I’ve never seen anything like it in Florida.

Tyson, Percheron at Tri-Circle-D Ranch

All in all, I spent a really happy half an hour or so enjoying the horses and chatting with the ranch hands at Tri-Circle D Ranch. They’ve done a stellar job and it’s a real showplace!

Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of fried chicken and fixin’s alongside the beautiful expanse of Bay Lake, just a short walk away. Fort Wilderness also has ferry service to the Magic Kingdom, or you can walk around the campground, which has nature walks, some shopping, canoe rentals, and more. It’s a very peaceful and beautiful place. I really recommend a visit!

If you have a little one who wants a pony ride, even better!

You can read my (totally fictional) account of horses and theme parks in Horses in Wonderland, the second book in my Show Barn Blues series.

The Best Books I Read Spring 2021

Back in January, I posted All The Books I Read in January 2021 and while it was fun, it ended up being too much heavy lifting for a monthly blog post. My blog post time is very limited! So I decided to wait and do one to sum up spring.

It’s only a week into May, but here in Florida it’s almost summer, so now is the time for my spring books post! I’ll do another one in September, for summer books.

Here are my favorite books from Spring 2021.

Eventer’s Dream – A Hoof in the Door – Ticket to Ride, by Caroline Akrill

Eventer's Dream Caroline Akrill

Holy cow, do I love these books. The Eventing Trilogy by Caroline Akrill is a smart, funny British farce through the world of Three-Day Eventing and fox hunting, back in 1970s? 80s? Great Britain.

I laughed, nodded, and gasped my way through these books. I truly should have read them much sooner, but I held off because the title made it sound like a starry-eyed pony story – when it fact it’s totally tongue-in-cheek.

The horses in this book are truly awesome characters, too, and they only get better as the series continues.

I enjoyed them on Kindle Unlimited, but they’re going to be paperback editions on my shelves soon enough, because they’re worth owning to read again and again. I can’t recommend these books enough to anyone who enjoys British humor, horses, or just really quality escape reads.

Check them out on Amazon!

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

I had the pleasure of reading this book on NetGalley this year. If you enjoyed the music journalism style of Daisy Jones and the Six, and the musical sensibilities of High Fidelity, this is a really smart book which takes on modern issues through the lens of the seventies music industry. There’s a great back-and-forth between personal narrative (by the journalist, who is herself related to the classic rock(?) duo Opal & Nev, and the articles about the band. The blurb from the publisher says it better than I can:

“Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

“In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.”

I really enjoyed this and recommend it!

Amazon: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Love Songs for Skeptics, by Christina Pishiris

Love Songs for Skeptics

I love the sweet spot where chick lit meets romantic comedy, and this one ticks all the boxes. Add in some sweet twists: the music journalist (another one, how funny!) narrator, her Greek heritage and London upbringing, the struggle between the return of the boy next door and dealing with an aggressive publicist who is determined to take her career down – there’s so much happening, and I was invested in all of it.

As a writer who has been dabbling in romance but not necessarily falling in love with the process, Love Songs for Skeptics gave me a lot to think about, just in terms of the potential fluidity of the genre and ways to step outside of the write-to-market box. This is another one I’d like to have in paperback on my shelf.

Highly recommended for a good dose of London life, music sensibility, and will they/won’t they romance!

Amazon: Love Songs for Skeptics

Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon

Blue Highways

This is a book I used to shelve constantly when I worked at Barnes & Noble – it’s one of those titles that is perpetually available, that sells a steady three to five copies per month, per store, and yet I never picked it up. I wondered at the title, I wondered at the author’s name – and it turns out both of them have really good reasons for existing.

Blue Highways as a concept exists among a certain generation of road trippers and travelers, but the phrase was new to me. Now I’m obsessed with it. I absolutely love the road trip narrative, and more than that, I love the American small town narrative, and even deeper than that, I love the changing 20th-century narrative. One author who ticks these boxes for me is Jonathan Raban, whose travels through backwoods and middle-America through the 70s and 80s are endlessly fascinating to me. Now I can add this classic by Heat-Moon, and I plan to read his other books, as well.

With his life in shambles, unsure what to do next, Heat-Moon decided to drive around the country on the back roads and old highways that were outlined in blue on road atlases. Are they still? I don’t actually know. But he went to amazing places, stumbled upon amazing people, and told some of their incredible stories. This book is a revelation. Everyone should read it. Everyone!

Travel books are even better now, in my opinion, because you can read them with your phone at your side and effortlessly pull up places on the map for a better look at what existed then and what still exists now.

Amazon: Blue Highways

Moose Springs, Alaska: The Tourist Attraction, Mistletoe and Mr. Right, Enjoy the View – by Sarah Morgenthaler

The Tourist Attraction

This trio of Alaskan romantic comedies was a really fun escape! Most of the characters are introduced in the first book, The Tourist Attraction, which is a great way to write a small-town series. You get attached to everyone so easily, after all.

The Tourist Attraction is probably the funniest of the three, if only because the main characters lend themselves to comedy. A tourist who has come to Moose Springs with her wealthy friend, in hopes of living out her dream Alaska vacation, manages to fail at just about every item on her itinerary. Meanwhile, she’s getting close to the crabby owner of The Tourist Trap, a dive diner which attracts tourists despite the owner’s evident hatred of them. Enabled by her wealthy friend to try everything, she ends up, well, trying everything, and hilarity ensues.

Of these three, Enjoy the View surprised me the most. It’s a deceptively endearing story set against the dangerous pastime (hobby? sport?) of mountain climbing. There was more emotion and introspection in those pages than I’d bargained for. Really good stuff.

The town is beautifully realized, and the characters are fun, as well. I loved this series.


The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies Choir

I liked this tale of village intrigue, set during the opening days of World War II, so much that I almost bought another of Ms. Ryan’s books while at the bookstore just yesterday. The Spies of Shilling Lane also sounds good, but maybe with a little too much mystery for my taste, so I’m holding off. I really don’t like mysteries. Like, really don’t like them.

But The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is kind enough to let you in on most of its secrets, so that you can take turns gasping for each of the ladies in question as you read their chapters and watch them try to keep everyone else from finding out.

Its epistolary style isn’t the best example of the type: the chapters are either presented as letters or diary entries, but I think the only one that’s really successful is the diary entries by the teenage daughter of the big house. The letters are far too effusive and descriptive to really sound like letters. It might as well have been fashioned as a narrative by each character. BUT ignore that little bug and the book is really great! I bought it in paperback and I’m glad I did, because it’s a re-read for sure.

Amazon: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

All The Little Things and All Good Things, by Linda Shantz

All Good Things

I admit I am lucky – I get to read Linda Shantz’s wonderful tales of the track before (almost) anyone else, because I have been her formatter. As far as author services go, it’s probably the most technical and involves almost as much cursing as the actual writing process. (Is that everyone’s writing process or just mine?) But it’s fun to make such excellent books ready to go into people’s happy little hands.

All The Little Things sits in between Shantz’s award-finalist novel Good Things Come, and hinges on a romance between two not-so-horse-people who are nonetheless thrust into the racing life from time to time by their friends and family. If you read Good Things Come, you know these characters, and their story adds interesting insights into the drama between Liz and Nate.

All Good Things is the true follow-up to Good Things Come and continues Liz and Nate’s story, as well as that of Chique, the cheeky filly star of the first book. Together, the three books include the Canadian Triple Crown and a score of other races, from Woodbine to Gulfstream to Santa Anita. Ready to know more about the racing life? Shantz is happy to oblige.


Teach Me How To Rage Correctly, by Mary Pagones

Teach Me How To Rage Correctly

The seventh book in Pagones’ sensational Fortune’s Fool series is a little different from the preceding ones. This one returns the focus to Simon, and his narrative is the sole POV in the book. Simon, in turn, has returned his focus to Eventing – he’s not gallivanting off to Mongolia this time around. He has the horses, he has the farm, he has the drive. But does he have the team?

Simon’s support network is failing him in this outing, and that goes for everyone we’ve associated with him in the past: students, trainers, partners, friends. He forges an unlikely alliance in Teach Me How to Rage Correctly while he loses the affection of some others in the eventing game, which reminds me that often, a horseman’s best friend is a non-equestrian who can offer some balance and levity to a sport which encourages passion over practicality.

If you haven’t yet read Fortune’s Fool, it’s a truly unique journey into the life of a truly unique character. If you have, well, then, it’s time to catch up with this installment!

Amazon: Teach Me How To Rage Correctly

The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson

The Summer Before the War

This is a re-read, which honestly is my highest praise for a book. I love Helen Simonson’s books so much that I’ll buy another book off her enthusiastic blurb on the cover, even though I know half the time authors haven’t even read the books they’re blurbing. I just really respect her storytelling style and her depth of understanding of human nature. She gets it, whatever it is.

The Summer Before the War isn’t just about that last charming summer before the Great War sweeps over England, it’s about the first year of war, too. But the set-up for the stories that take place: the new teacher in town, desperate to find independence after the death of her father; the warring factions between the grand ladies of the southern England village; the two handsome nephews and their ambitions that seem destined to be thwarted by war, and the absolutely delicious, slow, spine-tingling romance — that all takes place in the summer before the war.

I think it’s a stupendous beach read, something you can just read chapters and chapters of, getting lost in the story and the beautiful places described.

I also highly recommend Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand from the same author!


Those are my standouts! I’d love to know yours! Feel free to drop them in the comments!

Preview Now: Prospect, Book 6 of The Eventing Series

It’s my most popular series and I think I can safely say it’s one of the most popular horse book series in the Amazon Kindle era: The Eventing Series. Beginning with Ambition and chronicling the (mis)adventures of an ambitious young woman who just wants to make it as a top event rider and trainer, The Eventing Series has been thrilling readers since 2013!

It’s hard for me to believe now that Ambition was conceived as a stand-alone novel, to give me something new to work on in-between writing volumes of my horse racing series, Alex & Alexander. Thanks to the many emails and messages I received asking for a sequel, I wrote Pride, then Courage, then Luck…you can see where this is going. Many readers thought book five, Forward, was the end of the line. But where some saw a Happy Ever After, I saw a new challenge.

That new challenge is Prospect, and it comes to Kindles and bookshelves everywhere on April 27th, 2021. You can pre-order Prospect now and be assured it will download on release day, or bookmark the page so you can order the paperback as soon as it’s available. For now, though, get excited for Prospect with this special preview of the first three chapters, available for free download!

Click here to visit StoryOrigin and download your special preview of Prospect (The Eventing Series: Book 6) now!