Dark Horse by Linda Rettstatt

HORSE
Dark Horse by Linda Rettstatt
Dark Heroes Series
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (67 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Jasmine

Private investigator Vanna Marbury arrives in Lexington to search for a stolen thoroughbred. She boards her daughter’s horse at Big Sky Stables and becomes curious about the mysterious black colt the owner keeps sequestered in the barn. Stable owner Braxton Hicks lives up to his name. He can truly be a pain with his grumpy demeanor and arrogant attitude.

To Brax, Vanna is nosey, over-bearing and too damned attractive, and he considers telling her to take her horse elsewhere. Especially after she tells him she is an investigative journalist. The last thing he needs is more headlines and a snoopy woman looking over his shoulder.

Despite their differences, Vanna is attracted to the dark, brooding horseman, and an unfamiliar jealousy stirs in Brax when he sees the way his brother Pete looks at Vanna.

Dark Horse features a female private investigator on the case of a missing colt that could be the “next big thing”, so she manages to integrate herself into what is predominantly a man’s world by posing as a reporter writing a story. Things heat up between herself and a stable owner while things simultaneously heat up on the case.

Savannah, or Vanna, is an independent, single mom determined to do what she has to do to make a better life for her daughter. Jessie, Savannah’s daughter, is cute and so typical of most little girls her age with her obsession with horses that it made me think of my niece and picture her throughout most of the book. I really enjoyed Savannah. She refuses to allow Brax to intimidate her and gives it right back to him at every turn. She is also conflicted by her attraction to him due to her maternal duties (not that she views it as a duty) and is very believable in her reactions.

Braxton Hicks, or Brax, is a good looking but brash man who runs the horse stable where Savannah boards her daughter’s horse while she is in Lexington. He is surly and rude with a type A personality. He finds himself attracted to Savannah, but like her, he fights the attraction. We eventually learn the cause for his behavior which makes him easier to understand, but not necessarily any more endearing.

I wasn’t a fan of Brax. He was very abrasive in the beginning and not all that likable. By the end, he was a bit better but with a story of this length it doesn’t really allow enough time to redeem the hero when he comes off so unlikable in the beginning. I had a hard time connecting with him. His brother, Pete, was far more interesting to me.

It was very interesting to get a glimpse in to the world of horse racing in and around Lexington, Kentucky. Having grown up close enough to the area, you know that the Kentucky Derby is like the Olympics in the horse world. To see the lengths people go to in order to achieve status in that sport is fascinating and the danger is all too real. The way that the colt was disguised was ingenious and not something that ever would have occurred to me.

The ending is a nice way to wrap it up, but it also would have been nice to, perhaps, end it with getting to see the horse race. Throughout the story, we are told repeatedly how this horse might be the next big thing to hit the tracks, so it would have been neat to see that happen.

A great choice if you’re looking for a quick read on a lunch hour, something to read before bed or if you like books about horses.

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