Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12785-X
Historical Romance, 2000
When her husband died and left her high and dry, Regina Landry trains horses for a living. She does it wonderfully and brilliantly too, carving for herself a niche as the head trainer in the Dashwood stables. When she heard news of her niece and nephew being orphaned, well, it’s Auntie Regina to the rescue.
Along the way she happens to encounter rake Harry Wainwright, war hero, super playboy, and the new Earl of Taskford. Harry decides to play Prince Charming to Regina’s Sleeping Beauty, only this time the heroine isn’t exactly waiting for him in open arms. They meet again over a solicitor’s office. Imagine their surprise when they discover themselves neighbors!
Harry holds the mortgage over Regina’s late brother’s lands. He’s a smart fellow, and he wants Regina in his bed, so he proposes that she works off the mortgage as a trainer of his horses. And maybe he can lay thick the infamous Wainwright charm and hopefully see Regina naked.
Regina’s answer is something to the effect of “Drop dead!”
There’s someone trying to kill Harry, and Regina has to play Mary Poppins even as she tries to save the children from life under their wicked uncle’s custody. But the whole charm of the story lie in Harry and Regina verbally fencing each other all the time generating enough sexual tension to set off a calamitous heatwave. I especially like Regina’s level-headed nature and her no-nonsense I’m in charge of my life nature. Harry is her perfect match as the irascible scoundrel who is a steady, reliable hero underneath his Regency James Bond demeanor.
The relationship unfolds in a nice, easy, but delightful pace, and there’s plenty of humor nicely placed alongside some poignant moments. I also adore the kids and the secondary characters.
Of course, if there’s a complain against Ride for the Roses, it’s that the story takes a well-trodden path of familiar characters and familiar plots. But the author does the familiar theme very entertainingly, so there’s not much to complain about.