Bareback by D Jackson Leigh: Book Review

Bareback by D Jackson LeighBareback by D Jackson Leigh satisfies two parts of me; the romance-loving grown woman and the horse crazy inner girl. Leigh offers a mix of equestrianism and lesbian romance in this wonderful introduction to her writing. After a riding accident that claims the life of her elite mount and her own health, Jessica Black is back with a vengeance. She has a few short months to get ready for the Olympic trials, months she needs to heal her body and create a partnership with her new mount, a spirited stallion named Rampage. She turns to her good friend and surrogate mother, Kate, who owns an equestrian center, and Kate turns to the best trainer she has, Skyler Reese. Reese won her own Olympic gold on horseback, before a betrayal by her lover and the blueblood equestrian circuit blacklisted her from the elite circles of eventing. Only Kate has enough power and wealth to withstand the pressure to make Skyler disappear. Sparks fly between rider and trainer, each thinking the other arrogant and rude. But the raw power and talent that Rampage displays bring both of them together with the same goal; dreams of Olympic gold. But Jessica is also withholding a secret that could destroy both her own medal hopes and Skyler’s triumphant return to the event circuit.

The Characters

Jessica Black is an extremely determined young woman. She has her eye on the prize and she hasn’t wavered one bit. Pain is only a minor consideration when she imagines herself on an Olympic medal podium. The loss of her beloved horse has left scars, both physical and mental, and she struggles to get past them even as she struggles to will her body to heal to where it needs to in order for her to compete at the necessary level. She’s determined to let nothing stand in her way. And that includes any pesky little attraction she may feel towards her trainer.

Skyler Reese has issues. It isn’t only her ignominious exit from professional equestrian eventing. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, the poor side of the tracks. That was one factor in her eventual downfall. She also went through women quicker than water through a sieve. The one exception was her blueblood lover, and look how that turned out. But Skyler also struggles with leftover trauma and issues of self-worth from her childhood – she knows what it is to be discarded and abused. So she’s spent the last several years working for Kate, training horses and heading up the center’s program to give inner-city children a taste of riding. It allows her to give back. But she’ll never trust another woman with herself again. Until one determined rider worms her way under her skin. Even then, she knows she isn’t good enough for Jessica. The only thing she can do is train Jess and Rampage to the best of her ability and stay far, far away in all other matters.

The Writing Style

This book was an easy read that flowed naturally. It kept me turning pages as all the minor details of life became so much more interesting when combined with the high pressure of training and the stress of a possible relationship. The events progressed at a good pace, and the way all the characters interacted and related kept me engaged.

The Pros

It’s hard not to say the horses. Leigh definitely has a way of describing both the horses and the eventing that spoke to that almost forgotten little girl’s love of everything equine. But the way Jessica drew Skyler out, her determined presence that never let Skyler relax, was engaging as well. The excitement, disappointment, and unexpected triumphs made this book amazing.

The Cons

There is some off page abuse in this story. Not only in Skyler’s past, but in the lives of the children that are in her care within the program. Nothing too shocking or egregious, and nothing requiring a trigger warning, but it is there.

The Conclusion

This book was a wonderful story for anyone who loves romance, and even better for those who love horses. This is a great start to Leigh’s backlist, which includes many more romances that center around equines and the equestrian world, and leads you deep into this world, leaving you wanting more romance and more horses. She also has a fantasy trilogy that stars some very interesting horse-type creatures, the third book of which should be out soon (the beginning of 2018). She’s definitely an author you need to dive into if you haven’t before.

Excerpt from Bareback by D Jackson Leigh

“Don’t even think it,” she growled in Skyler’s ear.

Skyler flinched, then leaned back, resting her elbows on the vacant bench behind her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I can see what’s developing between the two of you.” Kate watched Skyler’s gaze flick once again to Jessica’s trim frame before settling down at her own feet. “The chemistry needs to be good between you two to be a successful threat in the show ring, but Jessica is young. She may not know how to draw the line to keep it professional, not personal. You need to draw that line”

Things never changed. Kate Parker had always treated her as an equal, but she was still a blueblood from the right side of the tracks. Apparently she didn’t want a mutt like Skyler coming after someone in her family. “Good enough to be her trainer, but nothing else, huh, Kate?”

“Sky, it’s got nothing to do with how worthy you are. You know I love you. You’re a great trainer and a really good friend.” Kate sighed. “But we both know you can’t stick to one woman. If you need to scratch an itch, I’m asking you to do it with someone other than my Jess.”

What she felt for Jessica wasn’t an itch to be scratched. It was more, and that scared her. Truth was, Skyler herself was afraid she wouldn’t be able to handle those feelings, and she would end up hurting Jessica. That mattered to her a whole lot more than Kate’s concerns. Yet it hurt worse that her mentor didn’t trust her, that she seemed to think Skyler would use Jessica. Skyler stared darkly into the crowded bleachers. She hated herself for not being worthy. And, at that moment, she hated Kate for pointing it out. And she resented Jessica for being so beautiful and talented and wonderful… and, hell, sexy, too.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781602820715
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

D Jackson Leigh Online 

Bareback
D Jackson Leigh
Jumping (Horsemanship)
2008
229

 

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