Sadie Williams’s life is quiet and that’s just the way she likes it. After being sent away by her parents 12 years ago to live with her grandmother Elsie in Sydney at the age of 17, Sadie is content with her job managing a cafe and her best friend Nicole. When she finds out her mother is terminally ill and wants to mend their relationship, Sadie has no choice but to head back to Melbourne to face her past.
Holly O’Brien works the desk at her parents’ hotel and her life has been at a standstill in the 6 months since she finished university, not even close to using her marketing degree or finding a job that use her skills and knowledge. Everything changes when Sadie Williams arrives at the hotel and they begin to form a friendship, bringing excitement and attraction into Holly’s life. The only question is whether Holly can get through Sadie’s walls to build something real.
Dark Horse feels like it’s very much Sadie’s book, and in a way I guess it is. She’s the first character we meet, she goes through the most difficult stuff, whether it’s confronting her past or dealing with her mother’s cancer in the present. We fully invest in her as we see the effects of her past trauma popping up in the present. And yet, Holly is just as important and distinct, with her own struggles as she’s trying to figure out her life and has to deal with her mother’s reactions to her friendship and romantic relationship with Sadie. I found myself truly caring about both characters as they worked through their issues individually and together and I was happy with how things ended for them.
There are some fabulous supporting characters in Dark Horse. Elsie is an absolute standout, because she’s not just Sadie’s grandmother, she’s her rock and her constant and has been since the moment she took Sadie in. Nicole and her girlfriend, Tash, are perfect examples of how friends become your family of choice, especially when your family of birth lets you down. There are more, but I don’t want to risk spoiling anything by talking about them, although I will say that Sadie’s father made me angrier than I’ve been with a character in a very long time.
The Writing Style
Friends, AL Brooks can WRITE. I mean, I already knew that because I loved how she wrote The Club. She did something totally different with Dark Horse, though, because while there’s plenty of sex and it’s super hot, this isn’t erotica or erotic romance. Frankly, I’m not actually sure how to categorize it, because it doesn’t exactly feel like a romance novel either, although I’m tagging my review that way because the romance aspect is so prominent. Whatever it is, it’s damn good and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I love that the cover evokes 70s book cover design. It works well for this story and the brooding Sadie. Also, it’s very well written with characters I really enjoyed.
Not a one.
Dark Horse was a homerun for me and I totally recommend it. AL Brooks’s versatility as an author impresses me and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.
Excerpt from Dark Horse by A.L. Brooks
Sadie gazed at her, wondering again why she was putting this temptation in her path. Holly was so…lovely. Just all-round loveliness. Without a doubt, the most put-together woman Sadie had spent any time with in a very long while. The urge to reach over and pull Holly into her arms, to experience what that body would feel like next to hers, was almost overwhelming.
“What?” Holly’s confusion was obvious, her eyebrows scrunched together.
Sadie realised her face must have shown something of what she was feeling, and she blushed at being caught. “Sorry, ignore me. Just tired, and I keep drifting.”
Holly stared at her for a moment longer, then shrugged slightly. “Perhaps I’d better feed you, then,” she said, smirking. It broke the tension between them, and Sadie laughed, gratefully.
“Yep, come on, woman. I’m starving.”She winked, and she felt her mood lighten as Holly’s laughter rang around the kitchen.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955337858
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
A.L. Brooks Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Dark Horse by A.L. Brooks. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.