I was provided with an advance reader copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. I received no financial incentives to review this book.
Published by Escape Publishing on November 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
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Can she save her family’s horse stud and reputation?
When India Kilhampton is caught up in the heart-stopping excitement of the first Melbourne Cup her mind is made up. She will breed a horse to win the coveted trophy and reunite her fractured family. Determined to make her dream a reality she advertises for a horse breeder.
Jim Mawgan arrives at Helligen Stud in the Hunter Valley to take up the position. Jim however, has a mission: he must fulfil his father’s dying wish to right past wrongs and prove his ownership of the prized stallion Jefferson.
Jim and India discover they share a common goal but as the secrets of the past unravel old enmities surface. Although betrayed, will India save Jim before he is branded a horse thief and sentenced to death?
It’s always with great excitement that I approach a new Oztorical* romance, and Téa Cooper is one of my absolute favourites from this sub-genre. So, of course, when I got the chance to read her latest, The Horse Thief, I grabbed it with both hands.
The fact that it is centred around a horse stud, and it is smack bang in the middle of the Spring Racing Carnival here at the moment, just made it all the more serendipitous.
On to my thoughts about The Horse Thief:
There is something just so lovely about the setting of this story. The lush greenery, the farmland, the imagery that the Hunter Valley throws out at you. It is easy to see why India was so passionate about Helligen and making a go of it.
I loved that India was all strength and determination, but yet still held an air of kindness and innocence. You would have had to be quite hard-core to make a go of a career seen solely as the domain of men at the time, and India is that and more.
Jim’s motives for coming to Helligen are, of course, secretive and a little questionable, but what I loved about how he was written is the fact that he didn’t become all villainous and saboteur-like. He may have coming thinking he wanted one thing, but after reconnecting with the place of his childhood, Jim sees that there is more to the place and the story than he knew.
The romance between India and Jim does err on the sweeter side of things, but is no less passionate and real because of it. Their opinions and knowledge of each other ride a bit of rollercoaster, but in India and Jim, there is a couple you believe will make it through to their HEA.
The secrets, mystery and miscommunications of the past are beautifully resolved, and the changes that are brought about in India and Jim, and the supporting characters around them in this resolution are fascinating.
The early years of Australia, post-settlement, are ripe for storytelling, and Téa Cooper has crafted a wonderfully vivid, believable and fascinating tale in The Horse Thief. Téa, you know if you keep writing them, I will keep reading them.
* An Oztorical is what I call a historical romance set in Australia.