HN’s horsey book critic Erin McCabe is back to review Look Twice, M. Garzon’s second novel in the Blaze of Glory series.
I get attached easily. Yes, even to characters in books. So when I got the chance to finally pick up Look Twice, M. Garzon’s second novel in the Blaze of Glory series, part of the pleasure in reading was the chance to spend more time with Tea, Seth, Jaden, and Dec (I never thought I’d say this, but Dec is really growing on me).
Look Twice picks up exactly where Blaze of Glory ended, with Tea and Jaden having to negotiate their family’s reaction to their relationship (which is complicated when you’re step-cousins. Or is it adopted cousins?). It’s not all trouble though since Tea does get to join Jaden on the Florida polo circuit for a few weeks. But the focus of Look Twice is not romantic love, and it isn’t horses either. And those are good things. Really. And this is coming from someone who loves a good romance and horses (obviously).
That’s not to say that those looking for romance and/or a horse story will be disappointed, as there is still plenty of Jaden’s hotness and stolen kisses in the hay loft. Nor will those after a horse story feel let down, as there’s still way more riding, training (including a fun scene with a clicker), mucking, and general horsey-ness (including a tack shopping spree [can Jaden be any more perfect?]) than you can find in the average novel. It’s just that Look Twice focuses on growing up and finding one’s own path, mixed in with sorting out the meaning of family and loyalty. It’s weighty stuff, but that should come as no surprise since Blaze too dealt with heavy themes. And just like in Blaze, the themes are addressed with complexity and sensitivity. Tea, or Sparky as her twin Seth likes to call her, can still be an impulsive, passionate, stubborn hothead, but in Look Twice she matures, which is a bit of a relief. As she navigates her conflicting emotions over her relationships with the important men in her life—Jaden, her adopted father Dec, Seth, and her biological father—we see her growing and dealing with love, hurt, jealousy, disappointment in more productive ways than she does in Blaze. It’s satisfying stuff, even when she doesn’t always get it right.
The book can probably stand alone, but especially the first few chapters will make a lot more sense (and you’ll have a better idea who all the characters are) if you read Blaze of Glory first. As with Blaze, the writing is fast paced and plot driven. I had a hard time putting it down, and the language is simple and straightforward, so you can easily gobble through in big gulps. But don’t let the simplicity fool you—I dare you not to get teary over the ending. If a book can make me cry, well, it’s got to be doing something right. Really, I don’t think reading can get more magical than words on a page becoming visceral emotions (kind of like a thought in my head translating into a transition from my horse). Don’t say I didn’t warn you though. Unless you like crying in public, don’t read the last chapter away from home. Oh, and the ending is a bit of a cliff-hanger, but have no fear—book three (Renaissance Man) is due out in late 2013. And if you read the whole series now, you can say you loved the series way before it became a popular TV show (which is, hopefully, in the works).
Note: Author M. Garzon is donating 10% of the book sales proceeds in May and June to horse rescue A Horse Tale. What a great way of giving back to the equestrian community! Buy it on Amazon here today!