Ride A Dark Horse
by Laura Moore, contemporary (2001)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-671-04292-0

The back cover touts Laura Moore's debut Ride A Dark Horse as "... reminiscent of the early classics in romantic fiction". Oh, really? It takes me weeks to finish this book, because while it is in essence a simple, unexciting romance between two clichés, it seems more interesting in telling me vignettes of life at a horse ranch/race track. Pages after pages of horsey stuff that leaves me bored (non-horse lover here) to a point that I can only read around ten pages per reading session.

Cassie Miller is a stereotype. Her one and only lover whom she surrenders her precious V to at the age of 19 turns out to be a child-hating scumbag who leaves her high and dry when she takes in her orphaned niece and nephew. Selfless, giving, and talented with animals especially horses, she lives a simple life, not dating, not trusting men much.

Caleb Wells is a stereotype. A womanizing vet who doesn't Trust All Women after his hell of a marriage to the Other Woman, he is also rich enough to own a horse farm. The Other Woman now owns the ranch, a casualty in the divorce proceedings for Caleb, and Caleb now only wants to see his beloved horse Orion triumph and prove that dumb b***h wrong.

So his partner enlists the aid of Cassie to make Orion ready for competition. Caleb isn't happy. Remember, he now thinks that women is good for That Thing only, and he wants Cassie for That Thing only. Cassie believes all men just want That Thing only, and she refuses to be Thinged by Caleb.

Meanwhile, the Other Woman causes trouble. What else is new? Pamela is such a stupid, evil, shrill shrew that I wonder what the hero sees in her in the first place. Or is it just in romance novels that when a hero's previous marriage breaks up, it's always that ex-wife's fault?

Since Cassie doesn't want to Thing but Caleb wants to Thing Thing Thing, they don't spend much time together. They spend time a lot talking about horses to everyone else. What to feed them, how to train them, how much exercise, how much rest, the best tricks to teach them, how to groom them, when and how to breed them... good grief. It's like reading How To Start Your Own Stud Farm. There are also the two brats of Cassie's to complete the sweet Horsey Family picture.

The romance isn't interesting, the characters aren't interesting, and the horse yarn just goes on and on interminably. Then again, I always preferred Lorna Doone to Black Beauty in my school reading program, so maybe it's personal bias on my part. Either way, Ride A Dark Horse is a good way for me to test the weight of my eyelids.

Rating: 60

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