Title: Heart’s Gamble
Author: S.J. Frost
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 97 Pages
At a Glance: An engaging story, revolving around a difficult subject matter, which managed to pack an emotional punch in its shorter length!
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Shawn Carlisle has dedicated his life to rescuing horses. Having grown up around the Thoroughbred racing industry, he knows for every champion racehorse, there are thousands more who end up broken and forgotten. When he rescues a mare named Heart’s Gamble, he’s heartbroken over her poor condition and he sets out to find her former owner to hold him accountable.
Grant Arrington inherited a horse farm that’s deep in debt from his father. He left years ago, not in agreement with his father’s harsh training methods, and is now trying to decide how to move forward. When he’s confronted by Shawn, he wants nothing more than to do right by Heart’s Gamble, and in the process, get closer to the passionate horse rescuer. The only problem is, he has to convince Shawn to take a gamble on what they could have together.
Review: I am one of those people who can handle movies with violence and whatnot, no problem—but throw an animal in the mix that ends up getting hurt or abused, and I will walk right out of the theatre. On the other hand, for some reason, I am also a sucker for the shows that show the animals being rescued by good people after their abuse, and then watching their journey from being abused and scared to a place where there is love and happiness in their lives. So yeah, this story was definitely up my ally.
Heart’s Gamble has quite a lot of plot dedicated to horseracing, and part of the darker elements which include abuse. Though there is only one semi-abusive scene (the protagonist steps in before it escalates to anything in depth) there is still the aftermath of the abuse written in detail. The story begins with Shawn rescuing Heart’s Gamble, and the description of her condition is written in such agonizing detail. I understood Shawn’s desire to put whoever did this to the graceful “Lady” in their place and call them out! His anger was my anger, and I was immediately invested in this story and in her recovery; the romance really was just an added bonus.
Shawn experiences the shadier part of what racing does, on a daily basis, as he tries to save as many horses as he can from the auction block. Because he is immersed in the negative part of the sport, and constantly surrounded by the abuse suffered at human hands, he really doesn’t trust people and has a bad taste for horse racing. Grant is part of that sport, but he (and those he chooses to work for) are not the types of people who abuse their animals. He observes the good in people, such as his bosses; he looks at the beauty of the sport, and though he witnesses some of the darker aspects, he is able to still find the splendor of the sport.
Once Grant and Shawn meet, sparks fly but they are at opposite ends of the spectrum on how they view situations they encounter—eternal optimist and pessimist (or, as Shawn says, “realist”). They both care about Heart’s Gamble and want to see her recover, but they both have different ideas of what may be good for her in the long run. Their attraction and chemistry is well written, and there is just the right amount of angst.
What I truly liked was that though there were disagreements, and even a tantrum or two, after a cooling off period they communicated and were both willing to compromise, to try to look at it from the other person’s perspective and to admit when they were in the wrong. It allowed for both characters to have individual growth despite the story’s shorter length.
Heart’s Gamble was an engaging story revolving around a difficult subject matter, which managed to pack an emotional punch in its shorter length!
You can buy Heart’s Gamble here: