2013 Equestrian Beach Reads

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Don’t forget to scroll down into the comments to see more suggestions! We’ve got some good ones.

Every couple of years, I like to suggest horse stories for summer reads and list them according to equestrian discipline. This year, we’ve got both mysteries and western romance as well as a highly anticipated mainstream coming-of-age novel.

Also, I should add that I know most of these authors, either on a face2face basis or online via writer’s groups or social media. The only author I don’t know is Anton DiSclafani, but as Jack Palance says in the movie “City Slickers:” “The day ain’t over yet.” So to speak. 🙂

Let’s get to the books!



The boss mare of equestrian fiction this summer is this mainstream novel largely set at “an equestrian respite” for young southern debutantes in 1930. Fifteen-year-old Thea Atwell has been banished from her family’s Florida orange plantation to a secluded riding camp for girls in the North Carolina mountains. Thea thinks she’s only serving a summer-long sentence.  Little does she know. The book features some thrilling descriptions of riding hell for leather over jumps. (I’ll also be reviewing this book separately soon because it’s receiving a lot of buzz, so y’all might be curious about various aspects of the novel. The book trailer embedded above is for DiSclafini’s book, just note that the cover in the video isn’t the cover you’ll see in stores.) DiSclafani was a serious rider back in the day, plus she’s returned to riding in midlife.

Horse Racing


The third installment of the Nikki Latrelle mystery series has Nikki riding and training at Florida’s Gulfstream Park. While walking to the track one pre-dawn morning, she sees a scantily clad young woman hurled from a black SUV and then shot dead in the street. Besides the police fallout from reporting that incident, as you see in The Sea Horse Trade book trailer, Nikki has a distraught friend and a new dangerous, studdish colt on her string. Hill is a former Maryland thoroughbred breeder, steeplechase jockey and trainer.

OTHER PEOPLE’S HORSES by Natalie Keller Reinert

The sequel to the Alex and Alexander book THE HEAD AND NOT THE HEART is mainstream fiction about a husband and wife training stable. Alexander goes abroad, so Alex takes their race string up to Saratoga Springs to receive a mixed reception from neighbors in the backstretch more accustomed to dealing with Alexander. She’s also wrangling their staff and, if that’s not enough, finds herself drawn to a troubled filly she’s certain she can fix, if only she owned her. Reinert has showed, jumped and galloped horses at Aqueduct. She also writes reviews for Dappled Grey equestrian lifestyles blog, like this one for the above-mentioned DiSclafani novel book.


BUSHWHACKED by Susan Schreyer

The fourth installment of the Thea Campbell dressage and paleontology mysteries turns up an old human skeleton in Thea’s yard. The discovery not only opens up a cold case but works her neighbors up in a lather, everything from holding a seance to digging for pirate treasure in her backyard. Thea’s trusty dressage horse Blackie is so connected to her that he senses when she’s in danger. Schreyer is a horse trainer and riding instructor in the Pacific Northwest.

Cowboys & cowgirls


A divorced mom takes her troubled but horse-worshipping 9-year-old  daughter along on a summer job in Colorado in the kitchen at the family-run Mustang Ridge Dude Ranch. Just their luck, they arrive during singles week. A handsome wrangler more comfortable around horses is a mite perturbed with the eligible female guests assuming his company is among the ranch’s amenities. However, he and mom meet because of a horse, so romantic sparks fly. Hayworth is a horse trainer, a former riding instructor, farmer and a scientist.

ONCE TEMPTED by Laura Moore

The author of the Virginia hunt country-based Rosewood trilogy goes West to California for a new romance series at the luxurious, family-run Silver Creek Ranch resort. A young New York widow ready for a fresh start points at a spot on the map as her destination and finds a job as an Events Coordinator at the busy resort. The cowboy who’s the go-to guy at the ranch is too busy to fall in love: besides he’s sworn off love  anyway. However, this new woman just hired at the ranch lingers on his mind more than he’d like. Moore rode seriously back in the day and has worked in stables.

Looking for more horse stories?

Don’t miss our Equestrian Beach Reads for 2011. Those books are still out there. Some are previous books of the authors mentioned above.

Odds are, with the exception of Yonahlassee and the romances I mentioned, you won’t find horse stories at your local big box store or your local tack shop. However, over on Amazon, look up any one of the books listed above and Amazon will give you other recommendations toward the bottom of the page. If you’d prefer to support your local independent bookstore, do the opposing of “show-rooming” — find your book on Amazon and then order it from your favorite independent bookseller. These days, many horse stories for adults are published by very small presses or are self-published.

Do you have a favorite new horse story that just came out? Add the title and the author’s name to the comments section below. The last time I ran one of these lists, the post attracted the attention of another blogger, so you never know who’s out there reading this blog.

Note for my RSS subscribers – You probably noticed I didn’t give you the link to the book trailer up at the top of this blog post. My apologies. Google+, HayNet and other social media platforms automatically pull the first sentence of each article linked. I needed something more interesting and hook-worthy than, “If you can’t see the above-embedded video … .” See what I mean? It’s practical but blah. Thank you for your patience. I’m ever so grateful for your readership.


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  • Kate Wyland
    June 19, 2013

    I’ll toot my own horn.

    Wyoming Escape
    Kate Wyland

  • Rhonda Lane
    June 19, 2013

    Yay! Thank you, Kate! Good for you! So glad you chimed in.

  • Kate Wyland
    June 19, 2013

    Might be helpful if I give some more info.

    Wyoming Escape by Kate Wyland

    One dead body is frightening enough, but a second one, plus a dirty cop, sends Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She finds a safe hiding place on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her fragile feeling of safety is disturbed by a compelling Marine, home on leave.

    Back from Afghanistan to heal both physically and emotionally, Shawn Saunders recognizes the type of fear in Mikela’s eyes—it’s one of the things he’s come home to forget. In spite of their reservations, neither can resist the pull of their attraction.

  • Karen McGoldrick
    June 19, 2013

    Oh, man. So disappointed you didn’t include my two dressage novels. They are on Amazon, so please have a look. I think they are also on Goodreads.
    The Dressage Chronicles
    The Dressage Chronicles – Book II – A Matter of Feel
    Hope you will check them out!
    Many Thanks,
    Karen McGoldrick

    • Rhonda Lane
      June 19, 2013

      Hi, Karen – I’m so glad you chimed in and listed them here, too. I love it when readers get a chance to find more good horse books. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Susan Schreyer
    June 19, 2013

    Thanks so much for including BushWhacked in your summer reading recommendations! It was so much fun to write and takes a decided turn toward the humorous — even Blackie gets to display a “horse” sense of humor.

    Coming up this summer — around the first of August — will be the next Thea Campbell Mystery. The title is Shooting To Kill, and (by reader request) has even more of Blackie in it. This time there is a couple of murders, a funeral, two weddings and a healthy amount of nail-biting tension. CAUTION: This book also contains humor!

  • Toni Leland
    June 20, 2013

    How about my Kovak & Quaid mystery, Double Exposure?

    (Soon to be followed by book 2, Balancing Act!)

    • Rhonda Lane
      June 20, 2013

      Yes, yes, YES! Thank you for adding it, Toni. Fantastic! Oh – do you have an estimated publication date for BALANCING ACT? (Great series title harmony, BTW.)

  • Toni Leland
    June 20, 2013

    Thanks Rhonda! Yes, possibly September. When I am more certain, I’ll be posting. 🙂

  • Rhonda Lane
    June 21, 2013

    Had an “omygod – how could I forget!” moment yesterday while driving. If you’re into Morgan horses, try Patti Brooks’s FAME & DECEIT. She’s a lifelong rider and breeds Morgan horses.

  • Sasscer Hill
    June 21, 2013

    Nice job, Rhonda. This is the time of year when beach reads are big. I know this, because I was just in Hilton Head and all these people were down by the ocean, sitting in their beach chairs, reading books. I should have brought a box of THE SEA HORSE TRADE with me and put a copy in everyone’s hands. I said to my girlfriend, “Why aren’t these people reading my book?” Probably, because they never heard of it?

    Thank you, Rhonda, for helping to fix this problem for me and the other great authors mentioned in your “Beach Reads” post!!
    Sasscer Hill

  • Rhonda Lane
    June 21, 2013

    Thanks, Sasscer, for stopping by and saying “hi.” Discoverability is the new buzz word in book sales. I don’t even think it WAS a word until recently. Anyway, happy to help.

    Also, readers – one of Sasscer’s Facebook pals mentioned another racing book DARK HORSE by J. Carson Black.

    Guys, keep those titles coming! 🙂 I didn’t mean to omit fine authors from my original post, but it happened and we can add them anytime here.

    Also, apologies to those of you who caught earlier versions in this post when I scrambled the spelling of Anton DiSclafani’s name. 🙁 My bad, indeed.

  • Rhonda Lane
    July 4, 2013

    THE HIGHEST STAKES by Emery Lee is about star-crossed lovers in 18th century horse racing, back when a son by Darley’s Arabian could meet a son (or filly) of Godolphin’s. Racing history geeks will also enjoy in-joke nods to recent racing history, like Hastings and Sham. I’m sure there are plenty of subtle references I’m missing, too, because I’m very early into the book.

  • Rhonda Lane
    July 9, 2013

    Natalie Keller Reinert wrote a similar post on the Equestrian Ink blog. Here’s the link: http://equestrianink.blogspot.com/2013/07/summer-reads-with-horses-in-them.html While you’re there, mosey over to the sidebars and see what other books they’ve released.

  • Christine
    August 17, 2013

    Horse Country – A World of Horses by Christine Meunier was released July 1 of this year 🙂

    “Horse Country follows the lives of four young women working in the equine industry. Two instruct horse riding at their parents metropolitan riding school whilst the other two are pursuing careers in the thoroughbred stud industry. Horse Country is a book that young adults and adults alike will enjoy reading.”

    • Rhonda Lane
      August 17, 2013

      Thanks, Christine, for adding your book to the list. Most of the books mentioned previously are set in the USA or North America, but HORSE COUNTRY is set in Australia.