Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this eBook to read and review. All thoughts are 100% my own and are given without restraint.
Stay the Distance by Mara Dabrishus
“July Carter’s world is perfect from the back of a horse. From the ground, everything is a complete mess: her jockey mom ran off for California years ago, her dad always seems more interested in the horses than in her, and the horse July wants for herself will never be hers.
Even though the New York racing circuit has taught her not to get attached, July can’t help connecting with Kali, a hopeless filly that refuses to run when it counts. When bankruptcy rumors start swirling around the barn, the future is murkier than ever. July can’t stand losing one more thing, and Beck, the barn owner’s son, knows more about the rumors than anyone else. July will get the truth, even if she has to pry it out of him, for Kali’s sake and her own.”
This is the second of two reviews I’m doing of Mara Dabrishus’ work and you already know I am a big fan of hers from the first review but I loved this book even more than Finding Daylight. I loved July. I loved Beck. And I LOVED Lamplighter.
This story has a lot of ups and downs for July but I thought she also really grew as a character through the story. Your heart will break for her when she has to deal with the reality of life with horses: which is that sometimes, despite all you do, they just don’t make it. And you will cheer for her as well.
Stay the Distance was technically written before Finding Daylight but since I’m doing this review second, I’m going to talk about Dabrishus’ work as a whole in this review.
Dabrishus loves strong female characters, both the two legged and four legged kind. This is great, I love strong female characters as well. On the other hand, in both novels there has been a fantastic filly that is undefeated and running against colts and that feels a little unrealistic for me. I suppose you could argue that these two novels aren’t necessarily in the same universe and so there can be multiple really great fillies. You can also argue that there have been years in real life where there have been multiple great fillies (i.e. Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra) but it was just something that bugged me a little bit.
Another similar thread in both novels is the handsome owner’s son being the love interest. I’m not really bothered by this as the way they were handled was different in both novels so it kept things feeling fresh. But it was something I felt like I should bring up in a review.
Overall, though, Dabrishus’ writing is strong, her plots keep you engaged in the story, and you’ll fall in love with at least one of the horses. I had several that I’d be willing to give a home to if they were real horses looking for a retirement home.
I highly recommend Stay the Distance to anyone who loved the Thoroughbred series as a kid. You will get a good injection of nostalgia from this book and fall in love with a whole new set of characters. I have already downloaded and read the prequel short story, Whirlaway, and have the sequel short story, Saratoga Summers, on my reading list.