Title: Ambition (The Eventing Series, #1)
Author: Natalie Keller Reinert
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)
Genre/Pages: Equestrian Fiction / 368
Summary: “Jules Thornton didn’t come to Ocala to make friends. She came to make a name for herself. Young, determined, and tough as nails, she’s been swapping stable-work for saddle-time since she was a little kid – and it hasn’t always been a fun ride. Forever the struggling rider in a sport for the wealthy, all Jules has on her side is talent and ambition. She’s certain all she needs to succeed are good horses, but will the eventing world agree?
On her own at last, Jules is positive she’s poised to become eventing’s newest star, but soon finds she’s making more enemies than friends in the close-knit equestrian community. Little mistakes cost big — her students are losing faith in her; her owners are starting to pull their horses. And then there’s the small matter of Peter Morrison, the handsome, on-the-rise event rider who keeps showing up when she least expects him.
Jules is convinced that all she needs is good horses — not friends, not romance, not anyone’s nose in her business. But it’s just the beginning of the long, hot, Ocala summer, and as Jules tumbles through the highs and lows of a life with horses, she might find she’ll need help after all to weather the coming storm.“
Cover Review: It’s pretty, and it does a good enough job of portraying the book accurately. I think it could greatly benefit from some real artwork, not just an image with text over it, but it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen.
My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a difficult book for me to review. As you can clearly tell from my five star rating, I really really loved this book. But the protagonist was infuriating, and the love interest was almost unrealistically obsessed with someone who had made it crystal clear that she despised him… But I still loved it. And I even loved the protagonist and the love interest (he wasn’t quite fleshed out enough to be anything more than that right off, unfortunately). They were just infuriating and dumb enough to be realistic, tbh.
Characters: So I guess I already started into this. Jules had a ridiculously huge victim complex, and was convinced that the ENTIRE world hated her (And if the person in question was rich, then they were basically personally responsible for every single one of her life problems), and as much as that part of her character made me want to talk (scream?) some sense into her, it was still very realistic. I mean, what’s the point of reading a book if you want the characters to be fairytale perfect without any unfair prejudices? Unless, of course, you’re reading a legit fairytale, and even then, those are darker than we give them credit for.
Aaannd… I’m off topic again. Anyway, I really loved Jules. She was fiercely independent, she was very knowledgeable about horses, and had worked insanely hard to get where she was. She was a beautifully complex and flawed character, and I cannot WAIT to read the second book and get to know her better. Mostly I loved her because of the huge amount of character development she underwent throughout the book. The other characters in the book were all wonderful, as well, adding great depth to the story as a whole.
Romance: I know I don’t usually have this section in my reviews, but I felt that if I didn’t have it, I would just rant about the strange relationship everywhere else. This is my attempt at some semblance of organization and self-discipline. So, I said above that Pete wasn’t fleshed out enough to constitute a co-starring character in the book, and unfortunately, that was true. He really was just an unusually complex love interest. I really hope he actually becomes a character in his own right in the second book. I really did love his character, though! I thought he was a pretty fabulous person, with amazing potential, and he was pretty fantastic with dealing with crazy-pants Jules. I definitely liked him more than I liked her, hahaha. He was really good at keeping a cool head all the time. I did wonder why he kept pursuing her when she kept telling him she hated him because he was rich / competition / both… But I suppose that’s just how romance novels are written. Once they finally got their act together, I thought the romance was beautiful and fun.
Plot: This was my favorite part of the book. I love love loved it. From the day-to-day drudgery and dangers of horse training and stabling, to the high stress competitive eventing environment, to the devastating natural disasters of Florida — this book had it all, and handled it all in such a way that made me always anxious to flip the next page and figure out what happens next. The plot and story of this book were absolutely PERFECT. The plot is definitely what made this a 5 star book.
Content Advisory: Some minor swearing, some huge and terrifying disasters, but nothing graphic.
To Sum It Up: Not too long ago, I had sworn off of equestrian fiction entirely. But then something changed — I read Appaloosa Summer, and my hope in equestrian novels was restored. So I was only slightly hesitant about accepting this book, and I loved every single action packed second of it! I highly recommend this book to all horse-crazy readers 16 and up!