A cheating husband, dangerous horses, a dashing philanthropist and rescued elephants converge in this charming account of a woman’s recovery from a failed marriage.
Neelie’s always been a bit out of it, but when her husband’s veterinary partner calls to tell her she’s pregnant (and that would be thanks to Neelie’s husband Matt), Neelie retreats to the emotional safety of a box of jelly donuts. She soon discovers that Matt has closed their bank accounts and put a second mortgage on their house, leaving Neelie close to destitute, her income dependent on training difficult horses and the odd riding student. To make matters worse, Matt is trying to persuade Neelie he still loves her, that the affair was just one of those big mistakes. It’s been increasingly hard to get up in the morning, until friends who run a local wildlife sanctuary offer her the opportunity of a lifetime—travel Africa and rescue an injured elephant. Neelie takes on the challenge, and Matt assists with the project as well. The sanctuary and the rescue mission are financed by Thomas Princeton Pennington, a fairly impressive millionaire, at once rugged and sophisticated, who goes on the trek to supervise. When Neelie returns from Africa, it doesn’t take long for her to fall deeply in love—first with the elephant, Margo, and her baby, then with Tom, who’s taken a shine to Neelie as well. Singer (Horseplay, 2004), a horsewoman herself, as well as a foster mother to baby elephants, uses her expertise to deftly convey the passion Neelie has for the animals in her care, and the joy this kind of shared life can bring. On the human front, Neelie has a decision to make: Take Matt back, with all the comfort and certainty that offers, or consider Tom and a childless (his one demand) life of excitement.
Singer employs a light comic touch to this engaging second novel sure to appeal to romantics and animal lovers alike.