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Eventing #1


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Jules Thornton didn’t come to Ocala to make friends. She came to make a name for herself. Young, determined, and tough as nails, she’s been swapping stable-work for saddle-time since she was a little kid - and it hasn’t always been a fun ride. Forever the struggling rider in a sport for the wealthy, all Jules has on her side is talent and ambition. She’s certain all she needs to succeed are good horses, but will the eventing world agree?

On her own at last, Jules is positive she’s poised to become eventing’s newest star, but soon finds she’s making more enemies than friends in the close-knit equestrian community. Little mistakes cost big -- her students are losing faith in her; her owners are starting to pull their horses. And then there’s the small matter of Peter Morrison, the handsome, on-the-rise event rider who keeps showing up when she least expects him.

Jules is convinced that all she needs is good horses -- not friends, not romance, not anyone’s nose in her business. But it’s just the beginning of the long, hot, Ocala summer, and as Jules tumbles through the highs and lows of a life with horses, she might find she’ll need help after all to weather the coming storm.

368 pages, Paperback

First published May 18, 2014

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About the author

Natalie Keller Reinert

47 books257 followers
Natalie Keller Reinert is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books exploring love, human nature, and the passions which make us tick. With an extensive equestrian background, many of her books are set in the world of horses and horse-people. Drawing on her professional experience working with Thoroughbred racehorses, mounted patrol horses, therapeutic riding, three-day-eventing, and many other equine pursuits, Reinert brings her love of the equestrian life into each of her titles.

Today, Reinert lives in Central Florida with her family, including a lazy foxhound and a white-blazed mustang named Ben.

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5 stars
341 (51%)
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195 (29%)
3 stars
91 (13%)
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28 (4%)
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12 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 70 reviews
Profile Image for Erika.
74 reviews
April 28, 2019
I am astonished that this book has the average rating that it does. I suppose that if you are aged 12-20, the reading experience is different. The purported heroine, Jules, is emotionally constipated and completely paralyzed by indecision (but not in a compelling way like Hamlet). She is completely self absorbed and unable to see beyond her own, extremely limited experience. But the reason I really disliked her was that her entire focus is on winning and not on her relationship with her horses. I am a rider and a dressage competitor, and I like horsey books. In fact, I love Jilly Cooper. This book did not focus enough on the interesting parts of riding and competing and drags the reader through page after page of shallow, adolescent feelings, petty jealousies, infantile failures to communicate and completely unbelievable and unlikely human relationships. In real life, Peter would have run the other way...and he and his quirking eyebrow would have been much happier for it. (By the way, that eyebrow quirked so much, I started to wonder if he had a tic disorder.)
Profile Image for J. L. Linn.
82 reviews22 followers
June 27, 2014
I am avid reader and read everything from horse books to young adult books to training manuals. There isn’t much I won’t give a try, but when adult horse fiction gets into my hands, I’m pretty ecstatic. Natalie Keller Reinert recently released her newest novel called Ambition, and once I found out it was about eventing I was even more intrigued! If you haven’t read anything by Natalie yet, it is time!

Ambition is about a young woman, Jules Thornton, who has spent her life as a working student and trying everything she can to make it to the top. Growing up, that meant riding any horse that came through her barn and cleaning up after the more privileged girls she went to school with. Instead of attending college, she broke out on her own, bought an old farm in Ocala, and began her training business. She had rescued an off the track Thoroughbred from an auction who slowly became her eventing star but didn’t quite have what it took to make it to the Advanced level in eventing. Would she push him too far?

The story follows Jules’ experiences as she slaves trying to reach the top in the eventing world as both a rider and a new trainer. She is extremely ambitious and the underlying theme throughout the whole book is “will it get the best of her?” I completely identified with her character, and Natalie has written this character in such a way that you feel for her, get irritated with her, want to shake her, and want to jump up and down when she achieves something. There is a love interest in this story that might make you want to swoon, but I don’t want to give anything away here (read the book)! You will have clear feelings about the other key characters (ie Becky-don’t care for her, Lacey-like her, Eileen-I know this type of owner). I was also completely sold on the story with the Thoroughbreds playing a key role. They are such special beings, and Natalie has a gift in portraying them and their wonderful little quirks. You will feel as though you know the horses as well as the humans in this book!

This is definitely a must read for equestrians. It’s a fabulous work of horse fiction that could easily translate to real life, and I am really hoping there is a sequel in the future. I would love to continue Jule’s story and see where life takes her and the horses next.
114 reviews2 followers
March 28, 2020
The main character made me crazy, her know it all attitude honestly almost made me stop reading but I hung with it due to the topic and the other characters. I hope the next book in this series makes her a more likable character.
Profile Image for Virginia Anderson.
Author 3 books15 followers
October 28, 2015
Review: Natalie Keller Reinert's Ambition
Juliet (Jules) wants most of all to beat the big riders in the dangerous and highly competitive world of eventing. Working herself nearly to death on a shoestring, she's furious to be shut out for a prestigious grant by rich-guy Peter Morrison. Life keeps getting worse as her working student abandons her, a promising horse turns out to be suffering from an apparent psychosis, and a disastrous show experience starts sucking her clients away—and sending them to Morrison. The major chip on Jules's shoulder doesn't help. The stage is set for a battle that doesn't turn out to be quite the one Jules has been training for.
It's with great relief that I can give Ambition three stars and wish I could give it three and a half. I was worried for a while. For the fact is, this book starts at Chapter 13.
I did need a lot of the information in the first 12 chapters: the source of Jules's maniacal drive for success, where she got the money for her farm, what her days were like. Obviously I needed to see the meeting with Peter and to learn about Jules's first disaster, and I needed to meet Mickey (the horse), of course. I didn't at all mind being taken back to some of the atmosphere of an outdoors working life in Central Florida, having ridden and taught riding in Tampa for 23 years. But by Chapter 13, I was skimming the text, muttering, "I know this already!" I was thinking, "When is something going to happen in this book?"
Fortunately, it did. Peter showed back up, Jules went to a show, we found out a little of the challenge she faced in Mickey, and we saw just how ferociously she sabotaged herself. I got caught up in Jules's struggles, even though I kept wanting to give her a body shake and shout, "Girl, get a read on yourself!"
Despite my impatience with her, I found Jules well-drawn, believable. I had a little more trouble with Peter, who comes across as flatter, more of the Good-Looking Guy Who Is Misunderstood requisite in romances than a flesh-and-blood person. I couldn't understand why he kept coming back to someone who treated him so brutally. He wasn't painted as a masochistic type.
The writing is lively, capturing the train wrecks so often characteristic of a life with horses with humor and insight. I know whereof Reinert speaks when she takes us through a horse person's learning curves: For example, like Jules, I somehow internalized the idea that it was my job to place the horse's feet at exactly the right take-off spot. The day the trainer I'd found late in life (too late) said to me, "Your job is to set the tempo, pace, and frame; it's his job to jump the fence" was the beginning of one of the most unsettling psychological leaps I could imagine. As a confirmed control freak, letting the horse make his own decisions? Really? Reinert knows her stuff; all the horse-handling in this book rings true.
I did raise an eyebrow once or twice. Two people taking full care of 13 horses, riding 9 a day? A trainer as far along as Jules not recognizing a bad shoeing job and a sore-footed horse? On the former point I'll have to cede to Reinert; she's been around a lot more than I have and maybe people can manage that schedule. The latter point I attribute to poetic license; it gives Peter a chance to show his stuff. But still. That said, the completion of Jules's character arc was fitting and worked well.
Anybody who has been where Jules and I have both been, watching other people ride while we clean stalls, trying to negotiate personal relations when differing views of what ought to be done with a horse intervene, hanging on to a precarious dream without the basic wherewithal it requires, will have a lot of fun with this book. As will those who dream of being rescued by Peter—not a bad fate.
Profile Image for Brittney.
Author 22 books344 followers
March 23, 2016
I 100% understand why Reinert titled this book "Ambition." I couldn't think of a better word to describe the main character, Jules, who is a broke, insanely-hard-working horse trainer trying to make her mark on the eventing industry. Jules drinks Diet Coke like a fiend, has a working student that doesn't respect her, rides through lightning storms so she can get all her horses worked, and vows to never date a horse trainer because she's certain he'd just tell her how to ride her horses. Yet she's making it work. Well, kind of. Jules is hard-headed and set in her ways and sometimes I wanted to give her a little shake to let her know she was being an idiot, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching her story unfold (along with her antics). Actually, I loved watching her story unfold -- the good, the bad, and the ugly were highly entertaining.

Something that really surprised me about Ambition -- a major plot twist involves a hurricane and this was probably my favorite part of the story. Growing up in the Midwest and now living in the Northwest, I've never experienced a hurricane and, after reading Ambition, I hope I never have to. I cannot imagine the horrors of a hurricane as a horse owner, but Natalie does an amazing job of describing the preparations, the fears, the destruction, and the emotional rollercoaster before, during, and after the storm. I was choked up over and over, fearing for the characters (human & animal).

Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed the I-don't-want-to-like-him-but-I-really-do-like-him relationship between Jules and Peter and was delighted to have this weaved in as a major story line in the second half of the book. I was rooting for Peter all along. :)

By the end of the book, the stubborn Jules completely warmed my heart. She learned her lesson -- but you'll have to read the book to find out what that lesson is.

Looking forward to reading more of Natalie Keller Reinert’s books!

For more equestrian-fiction reviews, check out Brittney Joy's Blog at:
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 13 books41 followers
June 10, 2014
This one grew into a page-turner for me, and I ignored chores and work of my own to find out what would happen. Why? Because I became so engrossed in the characters, both human and equine, that they felt very real to me, and I cared about them. Even Jules, the main character, whose behavior at the beginning of the story is less-than-stellar (and who we occasionally want to strangle)is a compelling character, because we want to see her grow, change, and learn to accept advice, criticism, love, and friendship.

Ms. Reinhert writes with a horsewoman's intimate knowledge of the barnyard, and it is these tiny details of her characters' day (which might perhaps be boring to some) that bring us along for the ride, and allow us to understand what makes them tick. Getting so thoroughly into a character's head and life was a delight to this reader. I not only adored the details, but felt as if each horse was brought to life, too, so that I really knew each one. I fell in love with Dynamo and Mickey also (the two major horses in Jules' life) and really cared about what happened to them.

Reinhert also writes with love, affection, and awe about the landscape of her home state of Florida, and this added to the believability of this novel.

A very good story about a talented, but flawed, young woman and the passion that drives her.
Profile Image for Joy.
310 reviews18 followers
August 16, 2018
I listened to the audio version of this book while driving my daughter cross country for a working student job. This was my first book by this author and we loved it. Immediately started the second book.
October 4, 2018
Fun read for horse lovers

This is a great book for the horse lover who grew up, but still loves to read about horses. It’s a great fiction story of a young female trainer trying to make it in the eventing world.
November 19, 2020
I'm not gonna lie, I found myself prickling at Jules' demeanor in the first few pages. But as I kept reading I found myself hoping, that maybe I'd find some reason to really root for this girl.

I mean, I know exactly what it's like to ride nothing but horses that came straight from the auction. Those "30 days under the saddle" was usually more like 10. But that's where her relatability ends for me.

Putting your horses in dangerous situations against the advice of multiple people is not ambition. Not when it smacks of pride and foolishness. I found myself at odds with this book. In one breath she says she loves her horses, but the next thing you know she's pushing them until they stroke out. They're only an investment after all.

I mean, bless her crooked, narcissistic head. I tried, but I could not root for her. And y'all, it's not a good thing when you find yourself siding with the sassy ass grooms -- wondering why the main character can't see sense. Especially when half the problems can be solved by the characters simply opening their mouth and saying, "Hey, what's wrong?"

Jules struck me a socially awkward, sure. (It kind of happens when you spend more time with horses than people.) But I never took her for someone who was afraid of confrontation. Well, okay, she's a young twenty-something. You don't know jack shit at twenty-one. Much less a socially awkward twenty-one. So I let that go and kept on reading. Something redeemable has to happen.

Which leads me to the other problem I had with this book. In the first third, you learn Jules' backstory. How she worked for those lessons, was crapped on by the rich kids -- but was somehow left a trust fund and buy a 10-acre farm. Her trailer can hold 4 horses. (Not some paint peeling two horse bumper pull.) Oh, Florida is hot, it rains, and diet coke is life.

Second thrid of the book it's all - 10-acre farm. My groom hates me. Some hot guy got my grant. Florida's hot. It rains. I'm not calling a vet if a horse rips off its entire forelock. and Oh! Diet Coke is life. Hey, will you forge a vet bill for me?

The last third of the book is where the action really is. And I was good with that.

Until chapter 33.

I'm not squeamish about training tools. I don't get fussy over crops, whips, spurs, and the like. Because they are -- as I've said, tools. There's a right way and a wrong way to use them. That being said--when a character knows what they're about to do is wrong and has to take the horse away from "Prying eyes" to do it. Um, hello red flags.

Because beating the living daylights out of a horse while asking it to back up totally fixes the problem. (BS flag! Right here!) Like I get the point -- but that's not the only way to shift a horse's focus.

And while Jules is mad that it happens, she's more pissed off that she could've been disqualified if they'd been caught. And then everyone who was shocked and angry just rationalizes it later like it's no big deal. I think that's what makes this 10 times worse.

I wanted to freaking quit. If I wasn't reading this on my phone I'm positive I would have sent it flying. Surely this whole thing is just some form of satire. It's gotta be. Right?

DNF doesn't exist for me. But it made me lose any respect I had for the characters. Just when they seem like they're going to get their poop in a group - they pull a stunt like this.

I will say that one of the refreshing things about this novel is -- it sheds light on the inter-workings in a life with horses. From show life to how someone might prep horses for natural disasters. This novel had the kind of details that most horse novels gloss over. I'm sure a lot of people might prefer it that way - but as a horse person, it's nice to see some realism.

But if the second book is more of the same--eh, I'm good.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brittney.
Author 22 books344 followers
January 20, 2016
I 100% understand why Reinert titled this book "Ambition." I couldn't think of a better word to describe the main character, Jules, who is a broke, insanely-hard-working horse trainer trying to make her mark on the eventing industry. Jules drinks Diet Coke like a fiend, has a working student that doesn't respect her, rides through lightning storms so she can get all her horses worked, and vows to never date a horse trainer because she's certain he'd just tell her how to ride her horses. Yet she's making it work. Well, kind of. Jules is hard-headed and set in her ways and sometimes I wanted to give her a little shake to let her know she was being an idiot, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching her story unfold (along with her antics). Actually, I loved watching her story unfold -- the good, the bad, and the ugly were highly entertaining.

Something that really surprised me about Ambition -- a major plot twist involves a hurricane and this was probably my favorite part of the story. Growing up in the Midwest and now living in the Northwest, I've never experienced a hurricane and, after reading Ambition, I hope I never have to. I cannot imagine the horrors of a hurricane as a horse owner, but Natalie does an amazing job of describing the preparations, the fears, the destruction, and the emotional rollercoaster before, during, and after the storm. I was choked up over and over, fearing for the characters (human & animal).

Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed the I-don't-want-to-like-him-but-I-really-do-like-him relationship between Jules and Peter and was delighted to have this weaved in as a major story line in the second half of the book. I was rooting for Peter all along. :)

By the end of the book, the stubborn Jules completely warmed my heart. She learned her lesson -- but you'll have to read the book to find out what that lesson is.

Looking forward to reading more of Natalie Keller Reinert’s books!

You can read more of my equestrian-fiction book reviews at:
1 review
April 22, 2020
I kept waiting for this book to get better, but it never did.

The man character is miserable. The author took the worst characteristics you could have as a horsewoman and out them all into one character. Honestly, who looks at their horse that they "love" and thinks that the horse isn't good enough? Dynamo deserve a better owner. And who in the world wouldn't call a vet immediately when a horse rips it's forelock off? Or the fact that she tries to push the vet bill for all of the horses off on Mickey's owner and then has the nerve to think about stealing supplements and using tack without permission. Throughout the entire book, she's always complaining about the rich people who are "always looking down on her", but that's exactly what she's doing to them. Jules acts like a pathetic spoiled brat. The whole world isn't out to get you. They're honestly probably not even giving you a second thought. Becky was the most relatable character in this book, even though she was supposed to be the enemy.

I have a horse but I'm in no way an experienced horsewoman. My horse is a Paint, so I was a bit offended by the random and unnecessary attack on Paint horses. I ride English, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Western riding. From what I've seen in my short time of owning a horse, the people are nice and they want to chat and make friends. They're a bit psycho sometimes, but they generally have good intentions. I'm sure there are people like the main character in real life, but they're not the kind of people that we want around our barn. The main character isn't an "underdog". She's an entitled, hateful, arrogant bitch.

Is Coca-Cola a sponsor? Why does she drink SO MUCH Diet Coke. Maybe she'd be happier if she drank some water instead of constantly drinking poison. Moderation is key.
Profile Image for Mary Pagones.
Author 14 books91 followers
October 29, 2015
While I'm not a professional equestrian, I do ride and one of the things I liked best about this book was the fact that the heroine Jules was such a tough broad and not afraid to be unlikable at times. This reflected the reality I've seen in the horse world: to survive you need to have a very tough skin. All too often in horse-themed books, the woman or girl has a very emotional and sentimental attitude towards animals in a way that I never see in real life among professional horsewomen. I also liked the fact that her romantic interest supported her love of horses and she didn't have to give up that part of herself in any way to find love.

I hope this isn't a huge spoiler but there is also a very evocative description of preparing for a major hurricane in the book. This is also something seldom seen in horse books or appreciated by non-horsey people. While storms are awful for all of us, there is always an added dimension of terror for people who have farms, to the point that actually taking care of themselves (versus their animals and property, who have priority) is put on the back burner. I am a survivor of Hurricane Sandy and the description of the preparations and aftermath before major storm is eerily accurate to what I experienced!
Profile Image for Ingrid.
68 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2016
While I admit that the main character's stubborn ambition and insistence on independence to a fault irritated me, I appreciated her character development. Nothing like a hurricane to take away your false pride and leave you left standing with who you really are. Trauma has a way of revealing our innermost character. Additionally, the author Natalie knows horses, eventing, and dressage and her knowledge shows through. She also knows people and the characters in her books certainly come across as believably real. I enjoyed this book, one horseperson to another, and look forward to reading the rest of Ms. Reinert's other books.
Profile Image for Julia.
22 reviews
October 5, 2018
The perils of ambition

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, appreciating the author's view and comments on ambition. She writes as if she's experienced it all. I did not enjoy the excessively long, oft repeated lessons on JuleS
stubborn insistence on getting to top alone. Enough already! And Jules blindness to Peter's intentions seemed a bit contrived. In contrast, the writer must have experienced a hurricane herself because she described it perfectly. I will definitely follow this author.
July 26, 2017
Eye rolling

Some of this novel works but I found myself rolling my eyes constantly at the narrator and her approach to life. She's so sour and pessimistic and while it works in some respects to explain the motivation - she's such a pill that I just didn't care anymore.
Profile Image for Susan.
140 reviews16 followers
February 14, 2015
As much as Jules annoyed me, Peter, Mickey, Dynamo, Lacey, and Marcus made this a really fun read!
209 reviews
October 24, 2022
Ok. I’ve waited to review any of these books until I’d read enough of them to get a good idea of the author’s writing style. After reading all of the Alex and Alexander series and the first of the eventing series I feel I’ve read enough to write something useful. Here goes…

First off, for nostalgia value alone I’ve been enjoying these books. I used to ride growing up, but stopped when I went to college. I was the horse girl reading all the horse books and magazines I could get my hands on, riding as much as my family could afford etc. So to get that “horse book” feeling again has been lovely.

However, there are some aspects of these series that I see some areas for improvement. While these books aren’t Shakespearean dramas, highbrow literature to be studied in university classes, and should not be held to that standard, some things could be better.

One of my biggest complaints is that frequently some of the action happens off screen. Everything will build up to a big race or show or cross country course and you see the horse and rider ride into the arena or onto the track (in Alex and Alexander) and then the actual event or race happens off screen. You reenter the story once it’s all done and the big event is summarized briefly in the past tense.

I want the event, the race, the big cross country course described in detail! Maybe this is not a common request, but for me, I want to hear how the horse and rider navigate the event. How they approached a fence, the decisions they made on the course, how the jockey slipped the horse through a hole on the inside to come home for the win. I want to live those exciting moments that I dreamt of but that I never got to experience as a horse kid growing up or that I don’t get to have anymore. I want to feel those moments.

In these books we get right up to this point and then just before she delivers….it stops. The story moves on. It’s frustrating.

And for a bit I thought maybe the author thought these details were boring for people to read, but then I realized there are repeated detailed descriptions of horse chores throughout the books. I enjoy hearing about the chores, but I want the exciting bits too. (And it’s not just with the equine sports parts - this happens in some of the other plot events as well. Sometimes things feel a bit…almost.)

As far as the common complaint that people hate Jules- I don’t mind Jules. I see what the author is doing with this character. It might not be the most nuanced character development I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think Jules is awful. Jules is ambitious and envious and self centered - but I find it interesting to see behind the scenes of a character like this, to see what might make someone act the way she does. To empathize with a person that if one were to meet them in person might dislike said person. While she thinks she knows everything and doesn’t communicate well and is very driven to succeed almost at the expense of everything and everyone around her, I can see why she is the way she is. She’s also dedicated, loves her horses (she never really gave up on that horse girl energy no matter how much she tells herself she’s all business), and driven to succeed. She’s scrappy, prideful, determined, arrogant at times - she’s got a mix of character traits that reminds me perhaps of a good eventing horse.

And I’m all for character growth as the series progresses.

My last critical point for this review is more of a personal preference, not a judgement by any means. As a lesbian, I would love to see more horse books with lesbian main characters, or if the characters are straight - I would like horse books with no romance in them. I have yet to find well written horse books for adults by horse-experienced people that aren’t straight romances in disguise. :-/ Also, more diversity could be fun - different ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations. I would love to see more types of people represented in the horse world so that we can see that all types are welcome, not just white, middle class, straight, cisgender horse girls.

I will absolutely continue reading these books, despite the areas I felt could be improved. I found the hurricane chapters compelling and realistic (as a fellow resident of Florida who just lived through Hurricane Ian). There were definitely moments that I just had to see what happens next. But I thought I would share both the good and the less than good, in the hopes that maybe in the future I’ll get a little more of what I’d like to see in my horse books. :)

Profile Image for Christie Bane.
1,039 reviews11 followers
November 15, 2019
This book showed up in my suggestions on Kindle Unlimited. It had good reviews and it was free to read, so I thought, why not? I wasn’t expecting anything great. And then... I loved it.

Basically, this is the horse version of the book I want to write about dogs and dog training. The author’s expertise and years of working with horses is infused in every sentence. Reading this book, you know you’re in the hands of a master of her subject. She lets you see the world of horsemanship from the inside. And even while you totally know you yourself will never get there because you’ll never invest even 1/100th of the time she has, the clarity of her writing lets you see something of it. What an experience.

She can also write human relationships as well as equine ones — a really unusual gift that I thoroughly enjoyed. Her characters are real and believable. They have good and bad qualities in equal measures just like we all do. Ok, the love interest was just a little bit too good-looking, but his story was complex enough that I can forgive that. Oh, and the way he whipped out an old-school training fix for a horse problem that was so unacceptable by modern standards that they had to go out to the “back 40” of the show grounds where no one would see them to implement it — and IT WORKED? That was my absolute favorite, and I can so relate.

Lastly, as if I needed one more thing to love about this book, the author managed to do one more thing I love and make the setting a character in the story. This story is about the horse country of Ocala, Florida as much as it is about the horses and the riders. Florida is a beautiful, terrible place. You have to be tough to survive and thrive outside in the summers, and then when severe weather comes... I can’t describe it, but she can.

If you want an inside look at an imperfect human perfectly chasing a dream, this is the book for you. And now I’m going to sit back and read everything she’s ever written.
45 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2021
This novel suffered from a lot of the pitfalls of beginner writers: not enough plot, telegraphing the plot, main character being unrealistically dense and not getting the most obvious clues the reader sees from a mile away, and so, SO much over-explanation (AKA showing your research). Yes, the average reader might not know all the horse terms and need a little help. But no, they don't need to know every tedious step of every single chore and every single horse interaction. It would have been a much better read at half the length - all the same plot points, way less unneeded extra words. It also would have helped if the main character had been likeable and if the romance was actually romantic instead of completely forced. This author isn't objectively bad, just publishing too early. This novel had potential if it had gone through more rounds of editing, but should have been a trunk novel in its current state. I hope this series gets better as it goes on, but I won't be reading to find out.
Profile Image for Maeve.
29 reviews
August 11, 2020
I started this book and thought "oh, no." It's exposition-heavy, especially in the first five or so pages, and it didn't have me excited for what was to come. Something kept me going, though; I pushed through my initial dislike for the protagonist, Jules, and I'm really glad I did. Keller Reinert's writing style is amazing. She has a superb ability to draw the reader in and hook them, and hooked I was.

One flaw of horse books is that, too often, the protagonist is a horrible Mary Sue who can Do No Wrong and who is God's Gift to Horses. Jules is very much not that. It was refreshing to have a protagonist who was flawed and felt very real. I wanted to slap her through most of the first half of the book, and then after that, give her a big hug. Keller Reinert clearly knows horses, as her descriptions were spot-on and very evocative.

Overall, a really satisfying read. I finished it in a couple of hours, and I'm just about to buy the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Dale Leatherman.
Author 1 book1 follower
November 8, 2020
I actually finished this book some time ago and became a fan of the prickly, exasperating, driven Jules. The book is aptly named, because Jules is consumed by ambition--to reach the upper echelons of eventing in Florida, and to prove to everyone, including herself, that she belongs there. Hers is a hardscrabble existence, living hand-to-mouth and trying to keep a roof over her head--and her horses' heads. I have seen this so often in real life, and it rings true. Natalie knows her horse sports, as we've seen in all of her books about racing, showing, and now eventing. Jules is almost unlikable because she is so angry, but there's something about her that makes you pull for her and want her to succeed and find happiness. The book is a tense ride from beginning to end, and will probably keep you up past your bedtime, as it did me. What's more, there are four more books in the series that are just as exciting.
Profile Image for Victoria Spain.
14 reviews
April 14, 2021
I bought this book to read for the Popsugar 2021 Reading Challenge where there's a prompt of "A book where the main character works at your current or dream job." My dream job would be working with horses, so here we were. I don't read many blurbs about a book before I jump in, I like to be surprised. I was expecting a not-very-well-written vanity project.

This book was a very pleasant surprise. It's well written and the story is engaging. I know enough about horses to understand all of the references, but it's not over a layperson's head. I was a little annoyed about the constant references to weather, but I guess if you're a horsewoman in Florida, weather means a heck of a lot.

I loved the MC's progression in learning how to do this new thing she'd embarked upon. Also that she was growing as a person in the way she learned about people and relationships. This was a good coming-of-age story, in a way.

Enjoyed very much and buying the rest of the series!
June 5, 2022
I love horse stories and Natalie Keller Reinert presents them in a very realistic fashion. I would have given a much higher rating, but.. 1) I had a difficult time liking Jules and her driving ambition that bordered on callous and dangerous. I understood her background and her tendency for self protection and preservation, however I found her selfish and self centered. 2) The women in this story were coarse. Their language was blasphemous and common. That puts me off tremendously. So here we have a good, realistic presentation of the competitive horse world, but, in my opinion, brings women down instead of elevating them. I will have to assess whether I will read any other of this author. I'm always looking for uplifting, respectful stories and am not satisfied with the common language and behavior that reinforces the degradation of our society's morals. Too bad, as she is a talented author.
2 reviews
February 21, 2019
At first the main character Jules annoyed me because of her attitude. As a horse professional myself, I couldn’t help but be jealous of the fact that she’s 22 and has all these things that most people can only dream of: a farm, a working student, an upper-level horse, and owners. But all she does is complain about how rough she has it. She’s also so ambitious she’s blind to the times it’s too much and ends up being detrimental to success. Then I realized that that’s half the point of the book, and that I can actually see a lot of my own traits in her. This is a wonderful (very real) look into the high stakes and relentless pressure of the eventing world - and also a chance to look inwards and reevaluate the pressure we put on ourselves!

Also I want to point out that it was refreshing to read a horse book written by someone who obviously knows what they’re talking about!
Profile Image for Ashley.
119 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2021
I really struggled with this series and ended up having to skim it because I desperately wanted to know how it ended but couldn’t bear to continue actively reading it.

The pros:
It is well written. I feel like often you’ll find lots of little edits, typos, or plot holes in more indie books. But the time and care that went into editing & crafting the story was excellent.
It’s a book about eventing. There’s not many out there, so I love to see the sport being written about.
A lot of the overall horse knowledge was accurate and correct.

The cons:
While a lot of the horse knowledge was correct, some of the eventing knowledge was a bit touch and go.
Jules is a shite human. Don’t get me wrong, I also am an arrogant eventer who has made many of the same mistakes she has, but good god, she’s horrid.
I HATE glorifying rushing horses up the levels. Some of the references made to timeframes are very normal for 5* or Olympic level pros. They are not common for a budding up and coming pro. Given the injury rate and that riders already rush up the levels I don’t like glorifying it in a book where we are supposed to want to relate to Jules.
I’m assuming she has never paid a recognized entry fee based off some of the numbers.
Again, some of the mechanics of what it’s like being a pro are also not that accurate. Which would be fine if there wasn’t so much praise and focus on it being a truly accurate Eventing novel.
No one would ever be able to rebound from an attitude that bad. At least not with other eventers, the local horsey community and even some sponsors.

I tried to give it through the second book (which the same points overall still stand although it was slightly better than this one) as I want to see how everything ends but I simply can’t bring myself to keep reading.

If you’re desperate for an equestrian book, it definitely fills that need and isn’t bad. But as someone who isn’t craving that literary hole to be fixed it was overall just disappointing. Well written, but disappointing none the less.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ski Croghan.
609 reviews4 followers
March 1, 2022
A great opening to a new series!!!

The first book in a new series is always exciting. After the devastating hurricane in the prequel, Jules moves her training buisness to Peter's farm. She lost her own small farm to the hurricane! Soon she and Pete are deep into a romance. But she takes a step back after he gives her horse Mickey a harsh lesson in acting in dangerous ways. Mickey's foot problems were finally cured enough to show again but the remembered pain he lived with for so long still spooks him sometimes. But the lesson Pete taught him sticks. Now if she can pick up a few more horses to train, she might get a little breathing room. Lots of luvly horse action and breathtaking dangers on the eventing circuit. Highly recommended for all ages.
330 reviews10 followers
July 3, 2020
Finally - equestrian fiction that is not about teenagers and written by someone who knows how to walk the walk and talk the talk! Loved it even if the heroine is not the most sympathetic of characters. She actually reminded me of my riding instructor when I was a teenage working pupil! Brought back many memories of my time there - some good and some, not so much.

Minor quibble, Ms. Reinert: please learn when to use "you and I" and "you and me" - you used "you and I" incorrectly throughout the book. Sorry, I'm a grammar nazi...

Still, I loved this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the Eventing series.
Profile Image for Corynn M Cackler.
57 reviews2 followers
December 7, 2019
If two stars means "it was okay", that's exactly where I am. I hated the main character in this book and never really developed any warm feelings towards her. And because she was so difficult, it was hard for me to respect her love interest relentlessly chasing after her despite her bad behavior. Nevertheless, the horse stuff is SPOT ON. Which is exceedingly rare. I picked this book up looking for the horse world, and I found it down to the tack squeaks and scrolled pine shavings and night check hay snuffles. The horse stuff was good enough that I read the entire book.
Profile Image for The Mad Mad Madeline.
635 reviews15 followers
April 27, 2022
I started this one overall very hesitant - while there are a handful of "truly horse books meant for horse people" out there, most of them are modest at best.

This one was well-done (although the main character can be straight up unlikable most of the time), and it is clear to me that the author 1) knows horses and 2) has a great voice when speaking about having horses in Florida (a very specific vibe!)

I gave it four stars because the beginning was a tad slow but I found myself galloping through (see what I did there?) the last 40% of it.

Eager to read the second installment!
80 reviews
May 10, 2023
Reinert has given us an excellent story where the horse world is accurately portrayed. The main character is not too likeable, however the plot was engaging, and the way the author described the Ocala region of Florida, one could really imagine what life would be like there. She provided a bit of romance as well, which added to the book'sappeal.
This book has a lot to offer, especially for horse owners and those involved in various branches of the equine industry, and I look forward to more of her titles.
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