Georgie Quinn and the filly Sweet Bells are an unbeatable team. When they win the Breeders’ Cup Classic against colts, the world can’t seem to get enough. Overnight, Georgie becomes the face of horse racing, and Sweet Bells becomes its queen.
Although they’re the morning line favorites, Georgie feels like she’s barely keeping her head above water. Her parents’ farm is a crumbling has-been, her jockey career consumes her time, and Harris Armstrong, heir to Tupelo Stud and grandson of Sweet Bells’ owner, won’t forgive her for telling a lie that kept her family together as the truth ripped his apart.
Georgie refuses to apologize, so she’s stunned when Harris asks her to ride his new colt. The most tenuous partnership in racing has begun. One that threatens to swallow Georgie whole.
I was afraid that I wouldn't enjoy this book as much as I thought when I had a hard time getting into it, but once I did, I loved it. I've become a fan of Mara's writing a while ago, when I read Stay the Distance and then Whirlaway, and I think it's going to stick with me for a long while.
Once again, I found myself surrounded by a realistic and amazing horse world in which I fit more than I ever do in books. It's full of details, well researched and it feels like you're the one riding the horses or taking care of them. While the atmosphere in the stables of this one isn't as heartwarming as in Mara's other books (for obvious reasons: it's pretty much the most important part of the plot), there's something reassuring as soon as there are horses in a story. I loved Sweet Bells dearly, especially since she reminded me a lot of my own horse of a few years ago, which I had to sell and it broke my heart. I could relate a lot to Georgie because of that, since I experienced having to let a horse you love go without having a say in it. I also loved learning about horse racing, since it's always been quite foreign to me, seeing as I'm an English saddle rider who lives in Canada (where there aren't any races, at least in my province). The fact that Georgie is a jockey taught me a lot about this profession and its ups and downs, which I loved. I would never be able to ride racing horses because of my paranoia and my obsession with control, but I can see how some people can love it.
The relationship in this novel is even more complex than the one in Stay the Distance, but so is the whole story. I think that might be the reason why I couldn't get into the story at first, since I wasn't sure I understood what I was reading. Don't get discouraged if that happens to you, because you'd miss such a good story! I loved both Harris and Georgie and I shipped them pretty much from the beginning, because there's something about them that tells you they care for each other even when they're both convinced they hate each other. Seeing them learn to be around each other again and try to protect the other one was really touching and it made me swoon more than once.
This is a fantastic story that is about horses, but also about much more than that. It can be pretty heartbreaking at times and it's definitely not light-hearted, but it did leave me with a good feeling. I thought it was confusing at first, but I would recommend it to everyone.
Thank you Mara for sending me a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I did an interview with the author last summer, which you can find here.