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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Gift Horse by Jami Davenport

The Gift Horse by Jami Davenport
Publisher: Bookstrand
genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (310 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Vervain

Never look a Gift Horse in the mouth?

Carson Reynolds would dispute that statement. A gift horse got him into this mess in the first place. His mission: transform a run-down horse farm into the premium facility in the Pacific Northwest and a disorganized horse trainer with a penchant for self-sabotage into a winner.

After six years, Samantha Macintyre has returned to the scene of a horrific barn fire allegedly caused by her carelessness. She accepts the head trainer position at that run-down facility to prove her innocence and to ride the talented, temperamental horse Carson received as a birthday gift. But first, she must pass the test: compete the horse for one season, impress Carson, and best his sister's preferred trainer.

As Sam and Carson get closer to the truth and mishaps escalate into serious accidents. With the help of an opinionated equine, they face a surprising reality--that love is more important than ambition, money, or blue ribbons.

Note: Some parts written in the horse's point of view.

Samantha MacIntyre could not have been more surprised when she found Carson Reynolds in front of her barn dressed in a designer suit and fancy shoes. He looks completely out of place outside of the ramshackle barn, but Sam can’t resist the opportunity to check him out. He may not be her type, but he’s definitely worth looking at twice. Carson tries to ignore the smart-mouthed, unkempt woman in charge of training the horses at the stable. He hasn’t noticed a woman in a long time, so why is it that he keeps having wayward thoughts about the long-legged woman?

When Carson’s family decides to gift him with a horse, Gabbie, he ends up seeing a lot more of Sam than he had bargained for. Avoiding the walking temptation is no longer an option. It isn’t long before the two are exchanging barbs and having a grand time doing so. Carson can’t resist giving Sam grief over her unorganized way of keeping her tack and her apartment. But what if there is something more than disorganization going on? When tack disappears, horses pop up lame on a regular basis, and someone starts sneaking around the barn, Carson begins to think that something isn’t quite right at the ranch.

The characters of Sam and Carson are very well developed, as are the secondary characters in the novel. The descriptions of the scenery make the reader feel as if they are really there. While I enjoyed the characters, especially their friendly bickering and mud-slinging, there were quite a few editing mistakes (missing quotation marks, out of place commas, etc.) that distracted me. The over-all story line was good and enjoyable and it's a shame that the poor editing detracted from the author's skillful writing and that it brought down the rating on this review.

The author has a way with words, drawing the reader into her tale, making them feel as if they are part of the story. As an avid horse lover, I especially enjoyed the sections the author added from the horse’s point of view. It’s likely that I would pick up another book by this author in the future. A Gift Horse was enjoyable and I would recommend it to contemporary romance lovers everywhere.