OH MY GOD!!! That was beyond amazing! My eyes are all achy cried out mush pits and I LOVE IT!!! I have to say I’ve never read anything by Ms. Sherwood and I’d been avoiding reading this book for a little while as I had some mixed reviews from my friends. I don’t know why I ever hesitated! This is going on my favorites shelf and I know not only will I be reading the rest of the series as quickly as possible, but I will re-read this one in the future whenever I want a good cry. It’s so beautiful!!!
Title: Dark Horse
Author: Kate Sherwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the Publisher
Dan thinks about just driving, leaving the whole mess behind. He’s got enough money. He could just arrange to get his stuff and his horse shipped to wherever he’s going. Taking off is what he used to do when things got to be too much, and it worked pretty well, really.
Dan Wheeler thought he’d found lasting love and stability with his life and work partner, Justin Archer. But when Dan finds himself alone again, still working as a horse trainer for Justin’s parents, he has to find a way to accept that his perfect life is gone forever.
Then he meets billionaire Evan Kaminski, who arrives to buy a horse for his younger sister, and Evan’s lover Jeff Stevens, a horse trainer who seems to understand more than just Dan’s job. Struggling to deal with all the upheavals in his life, Dan finds himself drawn to both Evan’s mercurial passion and Jeff’s quiet wisdom. Is Dan strong enough to take a chance on new love, or would it be better—safer—for him to be alone?
Dan Wheeler spent his teenage years battling for his place in the world, he thought he’d finally found it working with his partner/lover/best friend Justin training horses for Justin’s families barn. Watching Justin compete on horses they’d worked together was thrilling. Until it all came crashing down the day the danger of the sport won out. It’s been a year but Dan’s still going through the motions and struggling to hold onto the life he had. The fact that Justin isn’t really dead, but still isn’t alive either doesn’t help.
Evan only expected to come to the barn to by a horse for his sister. He’s more than happy to indulge her horse crazy phase while running the family business after their parents died. Dragging his partner Jeff along for company and as his sister’s current trainer certainly helps since he knows he’ll have a reliable source of information as they look. Neither of them expected to be attracted to the same man despite their open relationship policy and while it might make smart business sense to turn this into more than just a one horse venture having Dan as part of the package is certainly the goal.
Ok first of all, I grew up on a horse ranch raising and training horses, my sister is an equine vet, my college roommate was an eventer…suffice to say this is my world and I miss it living in LA. I ADORED diving back into it even in the smallest measure with this book. I could just smell the horses and the barns while reading, and sure I grew up raising Quarter Horses (Smokey I know you’re wonderful! You are just as good as those prize pieces of meat. ;)) and know the Western show world better than the eventing, but the love of horse flesh and the hours you put in are the same. Not to say I’ve never done my share of the English side either, I’ve competed as a hunter/jumper too. This book was wonderful in it’s understanding of the horse world really works. There were never any niggles that threw me out of the story for their un-believability factor.
So I figure some people probably struggle with the slow burn aspect of this story, at least that’s the only place where I can think to find fault, but I loved it. I loved the fact that starting to get over Justin and have a life outside of what they had isn’t easy for Dan. I never felt like anything here moved to fast or two slow, but instead felt like I was right with him as his emotional dial spun topsy turvy with all the changes he was going through. Dan does have a hair trigger and I certainly see where people can rightfully say they wished he’d stick around and listen or at least ask questions before flying off the handle, but being in his head I completely get where his reaction is coming from. He doesn’t trust that people are going to be there for him, and questions whether he even deserves anything positive and good in his life. I am completely in love with this man and want him to get everything he thinks he doesn’t deserve.
I normally am not a fan of present tense narrative as it often feels clunky and takes me out of the story. That was definitely not the case here. In fact I found myself being more surprised on the rare occasion that I remembered it was present tense than by it’s use in the story. The writing here was seemless and flowed along so smoothly. I was on a ride I didn’t want to get off of. I swear I cried so many times and didn’t regret a one of them. I was just trying to hold it together so I could read the next page.
The side characters here were fantastic! I love Robyn and Chris and how they balance out Dan in different ways. (Though there’s a part of me hoping Chris gets his act together and decides to move his CA. Dan deserves to have his best friend close. Screw your life in Kentucky. ;)) And Tat was beyond great! I loved her energy and her meddling. She’s just the right mix of mature and innocent for a horse crazed fifteen year old. I can’t wait to see how she grows as this story continues.
As for Evan and Jeff, well yummy is the word of the day in my opinion. Both men have their pluses and I can see the attraction building between the three guys. I like the fact that it’s not easy and it’s not a case of insta-love on all parts. I like knowing that there are going to be things they’re going to have to work out. That they’ve all messed up, that there’s a healthy dose of skepticism, because it’ll be all the sweeter when it’s perfect. I also like the fact that Evan and Jeff are discovering that their open relationship policy isn’t making them happy anymore and that something has to change or they’ll lose each other. If they were the perfect happy couple I would resent the intrusion of Dan, but there is an imbalance there that Dan has the potential to fill.
I’m not normally one to like any sort of straying/cheating/indulging in someone else that’s not part of the established focus of my romance books. That being said, I was really happy for the inclusion of Ryan. I think he’s exactly what Dan needed at that point in his story to start moving on. He needed an intermediary with no pressure, someone who was easy and didn’t stir him to insanity to break the ice with. Losing Justin broke something in Dan that isn’t going to be a snap of the fingers to put back together. Ryan really did help to start the healing.
This book was perfect for me. It moved along quickly but gave all the time in the world for Dan to go through the progression of his feelings. There is of course loads here to still explore as this definitely ends on the HFN not HEA vibe. Which, heck, I’m not complaining about. It just means more books for me to read as soon as is humanly possible. This is absolutely going on my favorites shelf and I will be back. I haven’t read a book I loved this much in awhile. I’m sure a large part of that has to do with it being set in a world I adore with all the horses, but I really connected with Dan and what he was going through. This was just plain beautiful for me.
— On a complete and utter side note, it was a little weird reading a gay romance about a man with the exact same name as my brother-in-law. :-p Silly thought to end all the sap.
Where to Buy
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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