Book Title: BOLD BLOOD
Author: Lindy Kelly
Publisher: Harper Collins
No of Pages: 288
When Dr Caitlin Summerfield took the message, her satisfying life included a rich, sexy boyfriend, an exciting career and, best of all, she was free of the emotional maelstrom that characterised her disastrous relationship with her mother.
Her father and brother are both long dead, and reluctantly Caitlin returns home when her mother is left in a coma after a riding accident. Someone has to look after her mother's horses. But instead of the well-run training business she expects, she finds financial chaos and a dangerous mystery.
Lindy Kelly is an experienced eventing rider in New Zealand and she's taken the idea of write what you know to heart. BOLD BLOOD is set deep in the world of horse eventing - although for the author's sake, you have to hope that some of the action in this book is made up!
Dr Caitlin Summerfield was raised with horses. By a mother that she most definitely does not get on with, who she still blames for the premature death of the father and brother she adored. Called back to the family farm after her mother has an accident and is in hospital, deep in a coma, Caitlin has to leave city life, medicine and her boyfriend behind to step into the training and riding of her mother's horses until it becomes clear whether her mother is ever likely to recover. On the farm, accidents continue to happen and pretty quickly it becomes obvious that somebody doesn't want the business to continue.
There is a lot of detail in this book about eventing. Training, teaching, showing and working with horses is definitely the main point of this book. The information is interwoven with the mystery of why Caitlin's mother was attacked, and why threatening things happen at events - and at home. Whilst the horse aspects are obviously presented by an author who really knows their stuff, it doesn't read like Horse Eventing 101. Part of the reason for that is the terrific, dry funny humour - peopled a lot by a young strapper who steps up to help out when things start to get difficult. Kasey is a wonderful character - full of teenage attitude and misfit vulnerability, with a tremendous sense of irony and a fine line in bad language. She had me laughing out loud at just about every outing. Unfortunately Kasey rapidly outshone Caitlin. Caitlin was a little over-earnest, and there was such an inevitability to the various storylines around her that she struggled to stay sympathetic or even interesting at points. Especially as very early on the book - enter Dom McEwan. Softly spoken, gorgeous looking next-door-neighbour - the requisite love interest / strong male figure who appeared on the scene and the romantic tension was immediately switched on.
BOLD BLOOD is very much a romantic thriller - with all the will they / won't they / ooo ick must you do that here (as Kasey puts it) going on in. There is a reasonably good plot idea with a lurking threat that takes a while to materialise into a motive and a list of possible suspects. But the mystery elements do struggle for air in amongst the horses and the romance. That, combined with a hefty dose of fem-jep cataclysmic ramped up ending, leading to all threads neatly tied up (including the personal), meant a very mixed reaction. Whilst there were aspects of the book I liked, there wasn't enough of the believable and palpable thriller components to compensate for the overt romance and the predictability of the personal story of Caitlin. Having said that, BOLD BLOOD could work for well for fans of romantic thrillers who would probably rate that particular aspect of the book much higher.