Pettersen’s (Horses and Heroin, 2013, etc.) newest romantic suspense novel tells the story of love and murder on a movie set.
This sequel to Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash (2012) tells the story of Emily Murphy and her adventures as an extra on the set of a horse-racing film. She quickly gets in over her head when she meets Dan Barrett, the film’s laconic, mysterious horse trainer. Even though they’re complete opposites, a mutual attraction predictably blossoms despite their best efforts to suppress it. Together, they try to solve a long-ago crime related to the film’s subject—and attempt to finally catch the killer. The novel provides few surprises; everything proceeds as expected, from the main characters’ occasional misunderstandings and romantic stumbling blocks to the neat and tidy resolution. However, these aspects don’t intrude on the fun, and the plot flows smoothly throughout. Pettersen’s major characters are well-developed and entertaining, and her in-depth knowledge of the world of horses, combined with the glamorous atmosphere of filmmaking, makes for an engaging read. There are a few secondary characters, such as Emily’s sister Jenna and her husband, Burke, who were more heavily featured in the series’ first novel and who seem a bit underdeveloped here; Emily’s father is also mentioned in some brief anecdotes, as in the first book, that might have been further fleshed-out. On the whole, however, Dan and Emily’s romantic chemistry is palpable and engaging, even if their incompatibilities are a bit too conveniently forgotten by the end of the story. Pettersen is quite good at crafting tight, engaging love and suspense stories; here’s hoping she publishes another one soon.
An entertaining, if somewhat formulaic, romance with enjoyable characters and an intriguing setting.