December 2, 2013

Title: Racing Savannah

Series: Hundred Oaks, Book 4

Author: Miranda Kenneally 

Published: December 3, 2013

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 304

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 12/1/2013): 4.17

You can read a free excerpt of this novel here.

  • Christina thought this title was a quick, enjoyable read. It goes on her second shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Initial Thoughts and Rating: Actual rating of 3.5 stars! I finished this book all in one sitting. I enjoyed most of the characters, especially the humor that was present because of the secondary characters, Rory and Vanessa. They were my favorite in the book… which is a little bit weird since this wasn’t their book. All in all, it was quick and cute.

The Lowdown: Savannah’s father has accepted a new position as head groomer at the Goodwin’s estate, Cedar Hill Farms, where they house a great majority of the world’s best racing horses. Sure, living in the staff quarters on the Goodwin’s property isn’t her ideal residence, but Savannah can’t deny that living rent-free isn’t better for her, her dad, and his pregnant girlfriend. Even better, Savannah gets to work with horses, and Thoroughbreds- considered royalty in the realm of  racetracks- at that. Animals, particularly horses, have always been easier for Savannah to handle, and that fact isn’t any different in the case of Jack Goodwin.

Jack Goodwin is unlike any normal seventeen-year-old guy that Savannah has every known. He’s responsible, respectful, and determined to meet his father’s expectations of successfully running Cedar Hill Farms. So, when Savannah gets the job of exercise boy, he becomes her boss and definitely off-limits as a boyfriend. But who is Savannah kidding, he was way out of her league long before he became her employer because of his wealthy status anyway. Too bad no one ever told Jack that.

My Thoughts: This was the first novel of Ms. Kenneally’s work that I’ve read,  even though I have the first two novels in The Hundred Oaks series sitting on my bookshelf. After being told that each book could be read independently, I decided to go ahead and read Racing Savannah so that I could get the review out before its publication date. As promised, I wasn’t ever left wondering about the previous novels because this book did stand alone, though I could tell from certain scenes that the secondary characters being introduced were supposed to be “known.” (Example: Jordan was introduced as the school’s former girl quarterback which I know is from Catching Jordan.) So, while this aspect never hindered my reading experience, it did make me feel like I was missing out a little bit and even more eager to read the other novels in this series.

Easily, my favorite aspect of Racing Savannah is  how involved and important family appeared to be. In YA, where it seems like it’s more convenient to make family life non-existent, I appreciated how major of a role it played in the story. Even though the relationships between the two main characters and their fathers was strenuous at times, it was only because the fathers cared and wanted the best for their children. That being said, I felt like the “class” issue was a little bit dramatized. Yes, I completely understand that there is a separation between the wealthy and not in the real world, but in this novel, it seemed to become an issue all on its own, which was a tad irritating since I didn’t feel like it coincided with the Goodwin’s personalities.

As for the plot and pacing, this is where I found my biggest issue, I guess. It read as really choppy to me, which made it harder for me to connect to the story because it felt like all the sub-plots were spread to thinly. I understand the importance of the main characters having friendships in the novel to make it more well rounded, but a majority of Savannah’s time was spent with Rory and Vanessa. Even though I loved their characters and watching their relationship blossom, I felt like it distracted me from what was supposed to be happening between Jack and Savannah. I found myself wanting to read more about the other relationship/friendships more than I enjoyed reading about the main focus of the book. However, I will say that I felt like the author really knows her horses, or she really did her homework. Every situation that involved the horses or the inner workings of how the horse-racing world is felt one hundred percent believable to me. (Though, I will admit my horse knowledge is very limited.) Even better, I couldn’t stop reading and ran through it in just a few hours.

♥ Rec It? Sure, it was mostly lighthearted and I found myself chuckling aloud in a few sections. The characters, friendships, and relationships were all cute. I’ll definitely be checking into more of Miranda Kenneally’s work.

A very special thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for allowing me to preview an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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