Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner
Series: Heroes of Heartbreak Creek #2
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: July 1st 2014
Genres: Romance, Western
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Wounded in body and spirit after a shootout, Rayford Jessup leaves his career as a lawman and uses his gift with damaged horses to bring meaning to his solitary life. Hired by a Scotsman in Heartbreak Creek to purchase thoroughbreds, he travels to England, unaware that a traumatized horse and a beautiful Englishwoman will change his life forever.
Josephine Cathcart loves two things: her illegitimate son and her injured stallion. Faced with her father’s looming bankruptcy, she must choose between a loveless marriage to the man who ruined her, or risk her horse and her future on a handsome, taciturn Texan and a high-stakes horse race. But as vengeful forces conspire against them, will Rafe’s love and healing touch be enough to save her horse and protect her and her son?
Rafe Jessup is in England with his boss, Ash Wallace, buying up horses to take back to America to start his horse breeding ranch in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado. While traveling by boat Rafe meets Josephine Cathcart and is instantly taken with her. She seems to exude a peaceful calm even though she’s anything but calm at times. The pair create a bit of a bond before they leave the ship. Rafe then shows up at Josephine’s father’s estate to look over the horses her father is selling. While in residence Rafe and Josephine become closer and the bond that they had created on the ship grows exponentially.
Josephine finds herself caring more and more about Rafe but her life is in turmoil and she’s pulled in different directions – daily, it seems. Eight years before she was in love with William who was the heir to a barony. He stated he loved her and wanted to marry her and they slept together, creating Josephine’s son, Jamie. William then left her, never acknowledged Jamie and married an heiress. Josephine was heartbroken and she and her son were ostracized, but Josephine was strong and made a good life with Jamie living with her father. Her father, who made his money in coal mining is now in dire straits financially. He is getting more desperate every day and when William comes back in to their lives her father pushes Josephine to marry William, who’s more than ready to now claim Jamie. Josephine is torn as she finds herself falling in love with Rafe but wanting to do the right thing for both Jamie and her father. In the end it all comes down to Josephine’s horse. Pembroke’s Pride. Josephine’s father has entered her horse in a race and if he can win it their financial issues may be solved and she might be able to choose whoever she wants – for love, not for duty.
While I love Warner’s writing, I’ve only read a few of her books. Western historical romance isn’t my favorite so it’s not one I pick up all that often. When I saw that this book was 99% set in England I was thrilled and grabbed it up. It contained all of the things I love about Warner’s writing and was in a setting that I adore – win, win.
I loved the characters in this story as well. Rafe and Josephine were perfect together and I loved the quiet, endearing way they became attached. It was an unexpected romance for both of them and that quiet bond blossomed into a strong and steadfast love. It was both emotional and exciting to read and warmed my heart. Another of the characters that drew my attention was Jamie, the 7 year old son of Josephine. He was intelligent, intuitive and loving. He knew what was up with his grandfather and had a great sense of himself and others. I enjoyed every moment when he was on page. The other secondary characters, Thomas Redstone, Lord and Lady Kirkwell and other maids and grooms were all interesting and intriguing in a way that kept the story rolling and kept me turning pages.
Where the Horses Run is a story of trials and tribulations but also of love, friendship and determination. It’s a wonderful book and one that should definitely be read.
Rating: 4 out of 5