06 October 2010

Review: Kate Sherwood - Dark Horse

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Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Published: Jun 11, 2010
ISBN # 9781615814664
Word Count: 153,641
Book Origin: Personal E-Book Library

Cover Summary

Dan thinks about just driving, leaving the whole mess behind. He's got enough money. He could just arrange to get his stuff and his horse shipped to wherever he's going. Taking off is what he used to do when things got to be too much, and it worked pretty well, really.

Dan Wheeler thought he'd found lasting love and stability with his life and work partner, Justin Archer. But when Dan finds himself alone again, still working as a horse trainer for Justin's parents, he has to find a way to accept that his perfect life is gone forever.

Then he meets billionaire Evan Kaminski, who arrives to buy a horse for his younger sister, and Evan's lover Jeff Stevens, a horse trainer who seems to understand more than just Dan's job. Struggling to deal with all the upheavals in his life, Dan finds himself drawn to both Evan's mercurial passion and Jeff's quiet wisdom. Is Dan strong enough to take a chance on new love, or would it be better—safer—for him to be alone?

My Review: Men and horses are a powerful combination in my M/M reading but add a budding ménage to the whole and I’m eagerly reading the pages away. All the characters were introduced in part one of DARK HORSE where the foundation was given for the ménage between Jeff, Evan and Dan but it mainly focused on the changes coming and how various people were handling it. The premise, where Dan has to come to terms with a certain situation, was heart breaking to witness and Kate Sherwood leaves no emotion untouched. 

This is something I felt throughout the entire story. The difficult choices that had to be made and the emotions that came along with those choices. At a certain point in part one I cried on and off for three chapters long and it was a testament to how easily I got attached to all these characters. How I empathized and related to each of them in their journey. Not one character I met in DARK HORSE was flat, dull or two-dimensional, they each had a zest for life, even in the difficult moments they gave their all in an understandable way. It was definitely a strong element within this story.

Now DARK HORSE was told from a first person perspective and even while I was so touched with all that was give to me it also had a few downsides for me. First of all the first person narrative was Dan and for the better part of the story I understood Dan in his anger, hesitations and fears but there were also situations, mainly as the chemistry between the three men started to play a bigger role, that his second guessing and doubts started to get on my nerves.

For better or for worse, the first person POV really amplified the impact of Dan’s emotional growth but at a certain point in part two of the story I would’ve enjoyed a multiple POV where I would get the inner thoughts of Evan and Jeff too. It would’ve given me a more complete picture of where they all are coming from and what they wanted from this ménage. Now the dialogues had to tell me a lot and interaction wasn’t always the strong suit between Dan, Evan and Jeff. Still, even though the POV created a push-pull effect the attraction between this threesome is palpable from the beginning. The emphasis doesn’t lie on the actual sexing but more on the subtle, sometimes hesitated gestures, unspoken words or miscommunication. It builds a connection between them that brims with not only sexual attraction but something deeper, something that none of them expects or knows how to deal with.

Each of the men had their pros and cons. Evan was possessive and impatient but the depth of his love was immeasurable. Jeff is the indulgent and reliable older man but too subservient at times and Dan is aloof and somewhat uncertain in personal relationships yet full of passion for his work. Kate Sherwood took her time with telling this story, she allowed a natural coming to terms with the intense emotions from part one and then go from there in to a different set of struggles and issues that were budding in the first half of the story.

I was totally immersed in the lives of not only Dan, Evan and Jeff but also the supportive characters added to a well-rounded feel to the story. Chris, Tatiana and Robyn add to the character dynamic with banter, joy, sadness and an irrefutable connection to each of the main characters. Even next to them there are other characters who come and go, and still have meaning within the overall story. And then the love for the horses, I understand the profound connection one can have to animals and from Smokey to Chaucer, each horse gave this story more color.

When I’ve gone through the complex emotions and the unraveling of it like in DARK HORSE I want an ending that gives me that happy high were all turns out okay, but in this case I got a happy for now ending which instantly triggered the need for book two; Out Of The Darkness. I’m still uncertain about whether or not this threesome is going to work but with Kate Sherwood I know that I’m going to get a story brimming with well-rounded characters and a journey that will touch my heart in all the good ways.

4 stars

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  1. Great review!

    I enjoyed this one as well. Have you read the sequel, Out of the Darkness? It's also quite good.

  2. @Lily - I still need to buy and read Out of the Darkness but I'm looking forward to [hopefully] the developing relationship between Dan, Jeff and Evan ;)

  3. I was just thinking about getting this one Leontine. Now after your review I have to!

  4. Great review Leontine! I loved hearing your take on the POV aspect of the book. Even though I've dabbled in writing 1st person, I really have a hard time reading in first person simply for all the reasons you've touched on. I feel like we're limited on emotions that way -- and me being the character driven reader that I am, I absolutely need this!

    I'm glad you enjoyed it and even evoked a variety of emotions!

  5. Oh wow..never heard of this one...off to get it!! It sounds so good!!!

  6. @Smokinhotbooks - Enjoy it hon and after we must talk man-love menage between Evan, Dan & Jeff ;)

    @Tanya - This is really character driven storytelling and the two parts really give a great read!

    @Mandi - I still have to read the sequel but this author has the goods to delver a great read!

  7. Wasn't this the book you picked as your win in my vacay giveaway? I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! :)
    It sounds like an emotional read but in a good way. When I read about this at Lily's place I decided that I wouldn't read it before the sequel was available. Now it is, so both books are added to my wishlist! :)
    Fabulous review, as ever!

  8. Great review Leontine :)
    Just a quick stop, came back from the theatre where they showed The Full Monty, I got strippers on my brain


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