Dec 16 2013 3:45pm

First Look: Colette Auclair’s Thrown (December 16, 2013)

Thrown by Colette AuclairColette Auclair
Pocket Star / December 16, 2013 / $1.99 digital

Professional horse trainer Amanda Vogel dreams of riding jumpers in the Olympics, but after seeing her best friend die in a riding accident, she’s so traumatized she can’t compete. Broke and desperate, she takes a summer job in Aspen teaching some big-shot widowed movie star’s spoiled daughters to ride—and braces herself for three miserable months. But the movie star is funny, down-to-earth, and gorgeous—and his spoiled daughters are just desperate for a mother figure. By Labor Day, she has to choose between capturing a gold medal…and the man who has captured her heart.

If you have a weakness for Black Beauty, and Mary Poppins, then Thrown by Colette Auclair is sure to appeal, since it successfully integrates the two.
Amanda Vogel has been horse crazy since an early age. Luckily she had the talent and drive to make a career out of riding. But after her best friend dies, she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and now freezes up when faced with a jump. Being unable to perform means no earnings, and she heartbreakingly has to sell her beloved jumper, Edelweiss. She has to make money somehow, so she signs up as a riding instructor for the children of celebrity Grady Brunswick. She doesn’t have high expectations, but what she finds is even worse than she imagined.

The girls, Wave and Solstice, defy her commands at every turn, and Grady, a poor disciplinarian, refuses to back her up. Like when she tells Wave and Solstice that after the ride they must groom their horses:

"It’s just that . . . it’s my first summer with them. I don’t want them to do chores. It takes away from time they could spend with me.”

“I understand. But it doesn’t take long and it’s fun. Every day thousands of little girls love taking care of horses. There are lots more who would kill to groom their own horses.”

“But it’s . . .manual labor!” he whispered. It was a weak argument, but he suddenly felt cornered by the riding instructor with the kissable lips and pretty eyes.

Grady sounds pretty pathetic as a father, doesn’t he? He doesn’t have a clue. After Solstice takes an unauthorized ride alone, and then abuses her pony after she falls off, Amanda grounds her.

“Yes. I grounded her.”

She what? “You what?”

Her lips tightened into a line just before she said, “I grounded her.”

“She’s been riding for five minutes! How could you ground her? I forbid you to ground her.”

Amanda tries to explain that children need structure and rules, something Grady doesn’t seem to grasp:

“Kids like having structure, boundaries, limitations all that animal=training stuff. Even if they swear up and down they hate it. Besides, it makes my job easier if I’m not the only bad cop around her. Not that I’m ever really the bad cop. Not that rules are bad. I mean, I treat them well. But . . . oh . . . you know what I mean. It would be more consistent for them if I wasn’t the only one who gave them rules to follow.”

He had to smile, because she was starting to get flustered. “Except that I’m trying to have fun with my kids this summer. I don’t want to be a cop. I want to be their friend.”

Amanda rolled her eyes, looked away then pressed her lips tight together again. “I’m sorry,” she blurted, “but that never works.”

If Amanda doesn’t have enough on her hands, with single-handedly trying to tame two out of control hellions, she finds herself fighting an unexpected attraction to Grady, and how stupid is that? He is gorgeous, successful and dates movie stars. He is way out of her league. Little does she know that Grady struggling to resist Amanda’s allure:

He heard her, but he was staring at her lips. Damn it, what was his problem? Sure, she was pretty, but come on! She was his kids’ riding instructor. Better to hold out for an up-and-coming starlet—he’d had no shortage of come-ons from those. He was in demand. Better to be in a Hollywood power couple than to have a summer affair and get stuck with a weepy, star struck civilian who would expect more from him or stalk him or purposely get pregnant. Amanda could make his life a living hell if he gave into his libido. Ye, he could buy her off, but he’d never done that, and he wasn’t about to start. She was here for the summer and that was all, and he was here to spend time with his daughters. If he wanted sex, there were approximately two dozen famous women who would fly to Aspen in a heartbeat. And they were a heck of a lot sexier than this riding instructor. Or were they?

Interspersed around the interpersonal relationships are plenty of details to nostalgically remind you of your childhood love of horses and ponies.

Today she piloted him through circles, transitions, bending, and other basic exercises. As usual, he offered more than she asked. When he was warmed up she started canter work. She could hear his hoof beats thud in the sand and a relaxed snort with each stride.

Doesn’t that take you back to your childhood dreams of having a pony or horse? Thrown is a sweet romance that illustrates the simple, but powerful changes that happen when love is given a chance to grow.

Learn more or order a copy of Thrown by Colette Auclair, out now:

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Leigh Davis, Blogger

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