If you love horses with a dash of family saga, A Stallion to Die For is a 5-star read. I'm not a horse person. There--I said it--but I kept an open mind while reading this story written with barely a grammatical hiccup, which interrupts the narrative of too many self-pubbed novels. Well done. Read reviews from horse people with regard to the validity of the inside scoop into this elite and very subjective world. The action is crisp and precise even if I still don't know a canter from a trot to a gallop, or the cross country scoring methodology of this type of riding. The scoring logic did throw me a few times. And why are babies allowed on course where 1400 pound animals are going to be running with locomotive power?
|Not "My Friend Flicka"|
While the protagonist, Lexy, deals with her share of emotional baggage believably, some secondary characters felt more like window dressing, stampeding into a scene then dismounting into the sunset. Bo, the equine protagonist, is superbly drawn, even to a horse-challenged person. Hamp, Lexy's main squeeze, felt wooden, with only three emotional reactions to most situations: extreme rage, emotional detachment, or tender lust. His vague motivations were not enough. And considering this was also a mystery, the sheriff and her investigations disappear for far too many pages for this mystery lover. She plays a pivotal role around which she seems disengaged. Lexy's amateur detective excursions--some of which were motivationally handicapped--keep her in jeopardy despite my constant warnings to not go there.
The mystery was more about suspense in the mind of Lexy than this reader. Though adequately developed, I would have loved more build-up around the red-herring bad guy or even less certainty over the bad guy until much later in the story. That others were aghast over the character's emotional implosion in the end says a lot about family sagas where those closest to a situation are usually the most clueless. Well done. Most puzzling was the positive outpouring for the murderous and arsonist bad guy at the end. Tie it all together, and this is a solid read worthy of time on the front porch rocker sipping ice tea in Southern Pines. A top class "4" from me.