Feb 24, 2014

Stallions at Burnt Rock

by Paul Bagdon

I was surprised to find myself leaving this book behind. It started out well enough. Once again, the story of a strong woman doing a job commonly thought of as man's work, in a bygone era. Lee Morgan runs a horse ranch- breeding, raising and selling horses. She's got a dream to create a better strain of stock horses. Jointly with a ranching friend, she comes up with a plan to get attention from buyers by staging a horse race at the upcoming country fair. The fair has always been a quiet, joyful event, but word of the horse race brings gamblers and other unsavory characters into town, trouble brewing.

That's when I lost interest. At first I was enjoying this book even more than The Hearts of Horses. It has some beautifully written descriptions of the landscape and the animals themselves. There were some intriguing characters, including a newly-hired horse trainer that Lee takes on (against the better judgement of her colleagues). This guy is good with the horses but something of a loner with a wicked temper that has lost him several jobs... I kept expecting a stereotypical ending here, particularly because the ranch lady, Lee, is a staunch christian (incidentally, organizing a horse race goes against her conscience because of the prospective gambling). So I suspected that Lee was going to convert the horse trainer, and turn his life into roses. Or he was going to step in and rescue the fair from danger and chaos (this thought came up after I read the scene where he rides a horse into the desert and expertly shoots holes in cacti with his cherished gun). Or maybe even he falls in love with Lee and the outcome is something different altogether (she has an apparent love interest in someone else, at the beginning of the novel).

But I didn't read far enough to find out, and I was already just skimming pages when the story started to get more wrapped up in the trouble caused by outsiders coming into town, the sheriff trying to keep order, gunfights in the local saloon, etc. Maybe you'll be intrigued enough to pick up this book someday and find out what happens. Then you can come back and tell me!

Abandoned     191 pages, 2013

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