The latest romantic mystery from Pettersen (Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash, 2012, etc.) involves the disappearance of an aspiring jockey.
Twenty-something Megan Spence is somewhat older than many of her fellow classmates at jockey school, but she doesn’t let that deter her from her secret aim: to investigate the recent disappearance of her brother, Joey, from the school a few weeks prior. Megan goes through the exhausting paces along with everyone else, from grooming to track riding to classwork. One of her instructors is the strappingly handsome Scott Taylor, who also happens to be a private investigator. Sparks fly between Megan and Scott from the moment they meet, but Megan’s private, independent spirit prevents her from revealing her secret. It doesn’t help matters that Scott’s close friend is Garrett Baldwin, the head of the school. According to Baldwin, Joey was a drug addict who quit the school and disappeared. But although Joey had issues with drugs earlier in his life, Megan knew that he was now clean. Megan’s relationship with Scott heats up, but she doesn’t know how far to trust him. Scott hides a heartbreaking past experience with a drug-taking fiancée, and when he finds heroin that’s been planted in Megan’s bag, he jumps to the wrong conclusion. Soon Megan is trapped in a life-threatening situation with a Mexican drug cartel, and Scott must conquer his inner demons in order to find her before it’s too late. Pettersen devotes many pages to Scott’s and Megan’s psychological musings, but readers may feel these ruminations slow the plot’s otherwise enjoyably rapid pace. Pettersen sticks to familiar genre patterns, and mystery and romance fans may find the plot contains few surprises, although the author’s detailed descriptions of the racing atmosphere brighten the story. She deftly develops the relationship between Megan and Scott, even if their relationship suffers from an overabundance of simple misunderstandings—although for many readers, that may simply add to the fun.
A somewhat formulaic story, enlivened by amiable characters and a robust setting.