Patty got up to peer into the refrigerator. “Honey, don’t look so guilty,” she said. “Men are like horses. If they’re even-tempered and sweet, you stay on for the ride. If they buck and run around, you get off before you get hurt.” She slammed the refrigerator door. “Damn, we’re out of cake.” --from Horseplay: A Novel
A debut novel full of sparkle and wit, Horseplay is a story of the animals that touch our hearts… and the men who try our souls.
When Judy Van Brunt finally decides to leave her cheating husband, she makes immediate plans to quit her teaching job, take the money she inherited from her mother, and run off, leaving a note on her husband's pillow. There is only one problem: Where is she going?
During her weekly riding lesson, her instructor makes a suggestion just crazy enough to work—and before she knows it, Judy has a position as a groom at an exclusive North Carolina horse farm. There, she shares an apartment with three remarkable women who also work at the farm, and she puts in long hours caring for the horses in addition to learning the demanding sport of dressage from the farm’s owner, a former Olympic champion. Exhausted but fulfilled, she learns for herself that a horse in the barn is worth far more than a husband at home. Her housemates gladly supplement her education with lessons not found in the riding ring, such as how to avoid the farm’s snootier patrons and weed out unsavory suitors. Her devotion to horses is far more rewarding than her marriage ever was—after all, horses never lie or cheat, and even the most hot-blooded stallion won't kick her when she's down.
Nevertheless, her new life doesn't keep her away from men entirely. She finds her early vow of chastity and cheeseburgers weakening as she is drawn to one especially eligible bachelor. But after a few escapades with studs of the two-legged variety, is she really ready to be with someone?
Set against the alternately glamorous and grimy world of competitive horse shows, Horseplay is a jubilant ride.
- Crown/Archetype, September 2004
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