Delightfully addictive barn drama: pairs well with a fruity chardonnay.
Natalie Keller Reinert shares with us her sixth equestrian novel, and we’re ever so glad that she did. In Show Barn Blues, Reinert beautifully captures in her protagonist, Grace Carter, the life many of us amateurs have secretly yearned for: to be the owner and trainer at a pristine facility. But it’s not all roses and daffodils for Grace. She’s up to her neck in mounting bills, needy hunter-jumper clients, and worst of all a team of developers who want to pave over her dream farm and eliminate the natural Florida landscape for good.
I was wary at first of the “evil developer” story line because, frankly, the injustice of it all kind of eats away at the idea of a fun barn drama book. But the plot line exists just enough to keep the pace pulsing, while allowing you to escape to both the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Florida scrub brush with a great cast of characters, many of whom would resonate with anyone who ever boarded at a big show facility.
Grace’s tough and organized demeanor is nicely juxtaposed by the arrival of Kennedy, a free spirit with a charming Quarter Horse who just likes to ride for fun. She’s not a good fit with the other barn clientele of wealthy adult amateur ladies on European warmbloods, but Kennedy wants access to the trails and for her horse to live the life of luxury a show barn provides. And Grace is in no position to turn down a paying client.
It seems at first like Grace and Kennedy are bound to butt heads indefinitely about the danger of the trails and the stresses of the show life, but with time they prove unlikely allies to give the barn new life and, more importantly, try to save the last bit of rural Florida heritage that exists in Grace’s ancestral acreage she inherited from her grandfather.
I won’t spoil the exciting conclusion, but it suffices to say there is quite the story arc and plot twist in the final chapters of the book that leave you wanting more, and challenge each character to grow in ways you don’t expect.
Show Barn Blues gets my full endorsement as a great little escape novel that gets all its horse facts straight, and feels more like making new barn friends in Florida than it does like reading. Whether you’re coming home from a long day at the barn or a full day at the office, this is a charming little book to curl up with by the fireplace this fall.
The book is available in paperback and kindle form on Amazon.
Go reading, and go riding.