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.
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.