A sprightly comic tone and a North Carolina horse farm make for a bit more than just another silly romance.
Judy van Brunt, 33 and a high-school English teacher, decides that her husband Marshall’s newest affair is the last straw and takes off. First, she checks in with her sister Ruth to let her know she’s leaving (she dubs Judy “Saint Ruth of the Perfect Life,” a woman who serves “fabulous scones from a secret-source bakery whose location she was reluctant to share”). Always happiest at her weekly riding lessons, Judy takes a job as a working student for Katarina Rheinboldt, a German-born Olympic trainer, and in short order is mucking-out stalls and learning how to handle the brood mares. Newcomer Singer is at her strongest in the details of this work—the spills and tumbles in learning to ride top-level horses, the social hierarchy of the dormitory (some boarders are wealthy horsewomen, others working students like Judy), the competitive ring and the fundraisers. Judy transcends her position as groom when she attracts the attentions of Speed Easton, wealthy lawyer and horse-breeder. The two have a fling, and Judy is drawn to him until he tries to involve her in a mysterious midnight cult ritual, when she spurns him and turns to a series of spectacular but difficult horses. Her husband tracks her down and, through a series of mishaps, ends up shot to death by her dorm-mate’s daughter. They hadn’t divorced, so now Judy has money enough to buy a horse for herself. But her favorite falls on top of her, leaving her with a concussion and a broken leg. The local orthopedist, a dreamy doctor who dislikes horses, becomes her new love interest, forcing Judy to choose between her love of horses and her love of the doctor.
Lots of galloping plot strands keep this bit of folderol racing along.