Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Elina

The novel Elina, written by Canadian author M. Garzon, is a prequel to her Blaze of Glory series. It stands on its own and is more adult-oriented, but both readers of the series and those who haven't yet read the trilogy can enjoy Elina.

The plot revolves around Elina, a non-horsey single-mother struggling to make ends meet who saves up enough money for riding lesson packages for her twins Tea and Seth as a one-time treat. Of course, the kids fall in love with horses, as well as with the lesson stable while Elina finds more than she bargained for in the gruff riding instructor.

Those who have read Blaze of Glory will have an idea of where the story will end, but it's an enjoyable trip and in a way, knowing what will happen to these characters brings an added depth. For those unfamiliar with the series, Garzon will keep readers guessing about the ending until the last few pages (and she will leave those readers wanting more). Those familiar with the books will also get a glimpse of the early days of certain characters who become a big part of the story later in the series.

This novel will appeal to horse people and non-horse people alike as the reader can learn about horses concurrently with Elina herself. Those on the horsey side will be happy to find that the equestrian content is accurate and there is no unrealistic progression through the lessons; the novel nicely emphasizes that everyone learns at their own pace and every rider has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

Though it is horse-themed, the main focus of the novel is on the people. Life is not idealized; money, job and relationship troubles abound, and each reader will find something that resonates with them. There is some minor adult content, so this novel is not suitable for children.

I enjoyed the unusual set-up of having two very different siblings experiencing both the horse world and life changes in their own very different ways within a single novel. I also felt that Garzon very accurately portrayed what a welcoming place riding stables can be, becoming almost like a home away from home for many. Garzon clearly has experience as a lesson mom.

Overall, Elina is a brief but enjoyable novel that all can enjoy, whether on its own or as part of the Blaze of Glory trilogy.

Elina is currently available in both Kindle and paperback versions on and

Disclosure: I have received no financial compensation for writing this review aside from a sample or copy of the product to be reviewed. My reviews are always my honest opinion and experience. Readers who use reviewed products do so at their own risk.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: What the Heart Wants

What the Heart Wants is the first full-length novel written by Canadian author Marion Myles, and it is also the first her romance Heart Series.

The action centres around Elle Roberts, a dressage trainer who has just been blindsided by her boyfriend of three years revealing that he has found the love of his life, and it isn't her. Elle has always had a unique connection with animals and she resigns herself to the fact that she will always feel more comfortable around them than she feels around her fellow humans.

Enter Leo, a stunning black gelding in need of a considerate trainer to get him over his troubled past, and owner Nicholas, stunning and troubled in his own right. The problem? Nicholas has a drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend named Katherine who is Leo's regular rider, and Elle will need to work with her to ready them both for an upcoming competition, all while Nicholas's presence literally makes her feel dizzy.

Can Elle and Katherine work together while they're both into the same man? Will Elle be able to break through Nicholas's barriers to help him get over his past? Is it possible that Elle could ever end up with someone like Nicholas?

While What the Heart Wants is set in the dressage world, it's much more horsey than purely dressage-y. The author is clearly an experienced horse person and there are no obvious errors from an equestrian standpoint. Horses provide the atmosphere for the story and help to propel the plot but this novel is really about the human relationships.

As far as Elle's mental connection with the animals goes, some suspension of belief may be required as it may seem decidedly, in the words of our protagonist, "woo-woo New Ager", but after the first few pages it simply feels like part of the story, whether or not it's something the reader regularly believes in.

The cast of characters is believable, with many of the usual barn personalities present: the devoted barn manager, the non-riding client who acts as barn cheerleader, the worrywart boarder, the straitlaced working student and more. Any horse person who reads it will recognise at least a few characters from their own barn.

I was initially worried that Nicholas felt a little bit like another rich male lead from a popular adult series with a theme of "woman who doesn't have the highest self-esteem meets rich, attractive man", but they distinguished themselves and developed their own story. There is some adult content in What the Heart Wants but it's not the focus of the novel.

Overall, this is a fun novel that horse people will enjoy reading. The pace is quick and the characters will be believable and familiar to anyone who has spent time in the horse world.

What the Heart Wants is currently available in both Kindle and paperback formats on Amazon.

Disclosure: I have received no financial compensation for writing this review aside from a sample or copy of the product to be reviewed. My reviews are always my honest opinion and experience. Readers who use reviewed products do so at their own risk.