Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fool's Gold by Sarah Madison

Title: Fool’s Gold
Author: Sarah Madison
Purchase or red on KU at Amazon 
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre: contemporary, horses
Length: 238 pages
Formats Mobi, print

Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.

Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.

I had read the original, shorter version of this story in the anthology where it originally appeared, and like it a lot. I’m just as pleased to read the expanded version.

This time around there’s more explanation of the sport Jake and Rich are involved with: three day eventing. This mad conglomeration of skills taxes the horses and riders to the utmost, requiring they be good at everything a horse can do short of racing on the flat. Those who pursue it all the way to the top need money.

Jake’s father has a lot of it, enough to indulge every possible horse related whim his son has, short of letting him date a fellow rider. When Rich gets smashed up in an accident that also kills some of their best horses, Donald is right there to make sure things go as he wishes. Too bad about what his son might want.

This is a story of second chances, so when Rich and Jake come together eight years later, with Rich as trainer, they have plenty to get over. Not only do they have to polish Jake and his horses to an Olympic gold glow, they have to work out the events of the past. This unwrapped plenty of secrets, mostly painful. Both of them have to examine their decisions at the time and the things they would rather not think about now.

We get some scenes from the father’s point of view, which gave another person’s journey to this story. I would like to say Donald’s evolution and eventual repair of his relationship with his son made my heart go pittypat, but Donald at the beginning of the story and Donald at the end seemed like two different people. Anyone as morally bankrupt as beginning Donald doesn’t have a heart to warm up, he’s got a cold, dark cinder. The author substituted an actual human, capable of change, into the later part of the story. Rich calling bullshit on Donald was a high point. Cause wow did he need someone to call bullshit on him.

Rich and Jake have a lot to work out, some because of the wreck and the damage to Rich’s body, and much because of the trust issues. Also, Jake needs a good hard thwack with the reality stick, because he knows his father, he knows Rich, and he never puts these two thoughts together. Not even after eight years, until his nose gets rubbed in it. I wanted to scream at him to THINK!

But suspending the disbelief on these two issues leaves a good read. The horse scenes are vivid, the bond between horse and rider is beautiful, and the riding scenes were definitely written by someone who knows what it’s like to soar over the obstacles. Watching Jake and Rich come back together is sweet, if occasionally difficult. Rich doesn’t shy away from body issues, when Jake was spared and left perfect, and they have to deal with the contrast. There is growth and forgiveness.

The writing is beautiful, the emotions deep, and the settings so real you can feel the reins in your hand. The story leaves off before the Olympics start, but just getting there was their goal all along, and the competition almost another story by itself. Which I would read! 4.25

1 comment:

  1. Oh, what a lovely review--thank you so much! You made my day!


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