BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 6, 2013

ARC Review of Secretariat Reborn by Susan Klaus

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date:
Buying Links: Amazon*  | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate link; the blog receives a small commission for purchases made through this link.

Blurb from goodreads:

Christian Roberts, lanky, blond, and twenty-five-years-old, rents out small sailboats on Sarasota Bay. His peaceful life is shattered when he accepts a thoroughbred colt from his estranged, dying father, an Ocala horse trainer. 

When Christian promises his father that he'll race the colt, he's plunged into the underworld of horse racing. To navigate his way he naively hires Ed Price, a heartless Miami trainer. And when his colt shows potential -- a surprising resemblance to Secretariat -- a dubious wealthy sheik wants to buy him, but Christian vows to keep his promise to his father. With a sizable debt still owed on the horse, Christian is forced to take out a loan, his only recourse, Vince, a New York mobster. If the money is not repaid on time, Christian's life and that of Allie, his colt's trainer, are threatened. To add to his rollercoaster of troubles, he faces fraud charges since his father illegally registered the colt, and he is being stalked by a psychotic ex-girlfriend.

Bea's Thoughts:

I LOVE horse racing books. I started reading Dick Francis while I was teenager so as soon I saw the title, I knew I had to read this one. I barely even read the blurb and I always read the blurb, lol. Unfortunately, with Dick Francis as the standard, the book had some high expectations to meet. I enjoyed the book but I didn't love it. Much of the story is over the top and there are stereotypes that I had trouble accepting. There were also a plethora of typos and some grammatical errors; since this was an ARC, I'm hoping that they were found and fixed before the book went to print.

As I said, I barely read the blurb which ended up being a good thing as the blurb is misleading. It has events out of order and mixes up two different horses. I would have been very confused reading the book if I'd read the blurb. I really hate when books have misleading blurbs; the blurb helps set my expectations for the book so when the blurb is wrong it messes with my enjoyment of the book.

The blurb, happily, does not reveal a huge spoiler though one review I skimmed after I finished the book did and didn't give a warning, argh! The spoiler explains Mystery's resemblance to Secretariat, who died October 4th, 1989 and why Christian's father is so certain the colt will be a champion. I was excited by the spoiler and anxious to see where Klaus went with it. Sadly, for most of the book she did little with it. Late in the book Christian starts to have doubts about the ethics of what he's doing but Klaus doesn't go into any depth with it. I'd hoped the legal and ethical ramifications would play a larger role than they did.

Christian ends up borrowing money from the mob to pay for the colt who is Secretariat Reborn and when he can't pay, he gets roped into their illegal activities. I was very disappointed at Klaus's description of them as it was painfully stereotypical though she did a little better with fleshing them out:

...she stopped at a table with two middleaged, (sic) dark-haired men in black silk suits. One man with thick curly hair was huge, three times Christian's girth and easily twice his weight. The other guy was of average build with a pencil-thin mustache and receding hairline. Their dark hair and eyes and  olive-colored skin suggested they might be Italians. With their looks and dress, they stood out in the room of lightly clothed dies like two crows among a flock of parakeets..."Nice meetin' ya," the big guy said with a Brooklyn accent.

The mobsters are somewhat developed as the story goes and particularly Vince get better fleshed out as the story goes though there's little depth and few surprises. 

The ex-girlfriend is also a stereotype - the bitchy, selfish, slutty woman who can't possible be his true love because, well, she's bitchy and slutty. And she goes nuts when she and Christian break up. She was cartoonish from the beginning and was never fleshed out. Nothing she does is unexpected, it's all by the numbers. By contrast, the woman who is his true love is petite, blonde, (Kate is tall and brunette), compassionate, caring, thoughtful and honest. Now, those are good characteristics to have but why can't the bitchy woman who enjoys sex be someone's true love? Why was Kate needed in the story at all? Christian could have been single when the story started, and the torment Kate provided was mostly unnecessary drama. The story could have moved along without it.

Klaus keeps the story moving along quickly and despite the often over-the-top events and the poorly drawn characters, the story kept me interested. I was curious to see how Christian handled things and where Klaus would go with her story. I enjoyed the racing details and seeing a different side of Florida than beaches, Disney World, and glamor. Klaus has a knack for spinning a story; I enjoyed "Secretariat Reborn" despite its problems.

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  1. I haven't read a horse racing book I don't think, but sounds like a great subject

  2. I love Dick Francis, too, but you're right -- his books set the bar very high. I think I'll give this one a pass.


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