Kelly Dawson is celebrating her author-versary this week, so we all get to celebrate! If you like horses, you are going to love this excerpt. 🙂
“And they’re off!” shouted the announcer. Anna’s eyes were on Star – she was one of the last horses out of the gate and so far was right at the back of the pack, near the middle of the track, but she could see Josh expertly guiding her in gradually towards the centre rail, thereby shortening the length of the track.
Anna snuck a look at her father. Like her, he too was holding his breath, his fists clenched, his whole body taut with nervous tension. His eyes were riveted on the track, and she could see his lips moving but couldn’t make out what he was saying.
The horses were started to spread out now, making an order – the leaders setting the pace, the main mob bunching to the inside rail. Star was still near the back, and Anna was worried. They were fast nearing the first corner, and the gap between Starlight and the leaders was widening with every second.
“The gap’s too wide, she won’t be able to make it up!” she panicked, turning to Jeremy. Glancing at her father again, she saw him hopping up and down on his toes, his fists still clenched, his brow furrowed in nervous frustration.
Jeremy squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Josh knows what he’s doing,” he reminded her softly. “He’s following your father’s instructions. And he’s the best. There will be a reason why he told Josh to ride the race this way, and Josh is doing it.”
Anna knew he was right, but still … she knew Star could go a lot faster than what she was going currently, she thought Josh was holding her back too much. The race wasn’t overly long – if he let the gap get too wide, she’d never have the time to make it up. She let out the breath she was holding and took another, shallow one, eyes riveted on Starlight and Josh.
She watched Josh touch her shoulder with his whip and Starlight responded immediately – with a surge of acceleration they overtook three horses on the outside and then Josh gently guided her back once more to the middle of the pack, closer to the centre rail. They remained there for a bit, closing the gap ever so slowly by overtaking just one horse at a time, Josh holding Star in a steady speed, a ground-churning gallop that held back enough that she wouldn’t be too exhausted for a surge of speed at the end. Anna’s heart was in her mouth as she watched the horses and jockeys jostling and vying for position as they rounded the corner; as this was Star’s first race she wasn’t used to being pushed. But she breathed a sigh of relief as Josh expertly guided her further out into the centre of the track, away from the milling mob. It meant further to run, but that was a small price to pay for escaping the pushing and shoving that was happening in the thick of the throng.
Coming down the back stretch, Anna’s father started to become animated, clenching and unclenching his fists, bobbing up and down on his toes, and breathing quickly. “Come on Josh, make your move,” he commanded quietly, waiting expectantly for the eruption of speed he knew was about to happen. “Come on you damn jockey, do it! Make your move!” he was yelling now, frustration and excitement both evident in his voice. “Come on Josh!” her father willed again.
And Josh made his move.
When Anna Fletcher comes home from University back to Bracken Ridge, the equine centre where she grew up, she is stunned to find Jeremy McCrae working as the manager. They were children together and she has had a crush on him forever. The years she’s been away, Jeremy has only gotten cuter.
Anna has plans for Bracken Ridge, but before she can implement them, she needs to prove herself. The biggest obstacle in her path is her nemesis, the stable hand who thinks Jeremy is mighty fine. Once Anna gets past her, Jeremy is standing in her way – he’s now the boss, but she can’t work for him. He’s been her best mate forever, and to cede to his authority now is going against every grain of her nature.
Being the daughter of the owner, Jeremy isn’t allowed to fire Anna, so when she gets rebellious and sassy he decides to spank her instead.
Can Jeremy tame Anna’s rebellious spirit before it is too late?
Author Bio: Kelly Dawson loves anything to do with horses, rodeos and cowboys, and loves to get lost in a good book – preferably a rural romance where a strong woman falls in love with a ruggedly-handsome, tough but gentle cowboy, and these are the types of characters who feature in the stories she writes. Only in Kelly’s books, the cowboys are even better because they spank! She lives literally at the bottom of the world in the South Island of New Zealand, with her husband, four kids, a dog and a cat.
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