Book Reviews

Racing Hearts Anthology at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Mixed Time Periods/Genres / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by The RBR Team on 22-January-2016

Book Blurb

‘The Lonely Ones’ by Bailey Bradford

Marshall’s all city, and Rex is all cowboy, so it’s no wonder sparks fly when they meet.

Marshall Evans never wanted to inherit his grandfather’s Thoroughbred horse ranch. He doesn’t know much about raising and training racehorses, and he knows even less about the man who left him what he sees as a burden. His grandfather wasn’t a nice man at all, and he left the ranch to Marshall more as a fuck you to the one person who did want the ranch, who had tried to buy it, and had put up with years of verbal and at times, physical abuse, only to have his home yanked out from under his feet. Rex Martinez had only ever had one home, and that was the ranch. Now he was about to lose it.


Marshall arrives in the small town of Erring, NM, only to be confronted by this silently furious man, and together, they’re going to have to work out what to do. The will stipulates that Marshall can’t sell the ranch to Rex, because Allen found out Rex was gay. Rex didn’t know he knew, but the old man had no idea about Marshall since Marshall hadn’t been raised anywhere near him.


It’s not as simple as selling the ranch, either. Marshall thinks it will be, but no. He can’t put Rex out of a home so easily.



‘Racing for Home’ by Morticia Knight

Groom Charlie loves the Piedmont Farms horses—but not nearly as much as the man he can never have, Edward Piedmont.

At the age of twenty-two, Charlie has lived at Piedmont Farms—the largest race horse breeding facility on the east coast—for eight years. For five of those years, he’s been desperately in love with Albert Piedmont’s oldest son, Edward. At one time, he believed Edward’s declarations that they’d be together forever. It was a brutal slap in the face when Edward married a local heiress and moved away to live with her on her family estate. Only his love of the horses, including one in particular, has kept him from complete despair.


Edward knows that horse groom Charlie must hate him after being abandoned when Edward married Alice, but he’d thought he was doing the right thing at the time. After three years of a sham of a marriage, Alice has found someone who she really wants to marry, and Edward is free to divorce her. Edward moves back to Piedmont, desperate to get Charlie back, even if they would still have to hide their love.


Charlie wants to believe that Edward still loves him and that he can believe in him once again. But love between two men in 1912 America is even worse than love between someone of a higher and lower station. Charlie fears that it would never be possible for them to truly have a life together.


Edward’s father, Albert Piedmont, is also hiding. However, his secrets pertain to the possible loss of his once wildly successful horse breeding farm. When everything begins to rapidly crumble, Edward has to make a desperate move to secure a future for him and Charlie before it’s too late.



‘The Secret of Delville Wood’ by Helena Maeve

A handsome, naked man in his bed is the kind of surprise Silas lives for. The dead body hanging outside his window, not so much.

In the shadow of the Great War, three soldiers made a fortune on racetracks either side of the North Sea. Their families thrived with the clandestine passions of youth, wanting for nothing while whole nations suffered the scarcities of peace. By their grace and generosity, Axel, a young man once forced to sell his body, became a champion.


Yet the lure of fast money hides many dark deeds and Pia Eckdahl’s manor on Lake Sågträsk is no exception. Hired to cleanse the Swedish socialite’s house of evil spirits, Nigerian-born Silas doesn’t care much for horses, racing or the affectations of the nouveau-riche. But he does care for Axel. Caught between peddling his heritage for an extortionate sum and investigating a suspicious suicide, Silas soon finds himself delving into a decade-old family secret that could well destroy his lover’s racing future.



‘Keeping the Luck In’ by L.M. Somerton

Since when was a squirrel crossing your path bad luck?

Like his father before him, Rory Ironstone was born and bred to be a blacksmith. Standing six feet five in his socked feet, he’s built like a barn door. He loves his job at Camworth Racecourse forge, tending to the beautiful racehorses and creating ironwork art in his spare time.


Pip Ryder is a summer stable hand and newly qualified vet who longs for someone to love him as much as they do his four-legged charges. He admires Rory from afar, but is too shy to admit his interest goes beyond the anvil.


When the horseshoe above the forge door is knocked off, Rory believes his luck has fallen out. Pip comes to the rescue but when Rory shows more than a platonic interest, he bolts.


Rory is convinced that the only way to re-fill his horseshoe with luck is to get Pip back and keep him.



‘Just my Luck’ by Ethan Stone

Appearances can be deceiving.

Kieran Jones is as used to short jokes as Sam Shaw is to being teased for his height. When they meet at a nightclub there’s an instant attraction, and not just because of the stark difference in their bodies.


After a passionate night, Sam sneaks out, positive he won’t see the hot guy again. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because he’s in town to do a job and he doesn’t need a distraction. He never imagined that growing up on a farm and knowing all about horses would help with his career, but it has and he can’t let anything get in the way.


However, jockey Kieran is connected to Sam’s mission and Sam has a tough choice to make—use Kieran to get it done or walk away. It could spell the end of the relationship before it’s even begun, but a life or death situation makes Sam realize just exactly how much he cares for Kieran and how much he wants a future with him.



‘Horses and Harleys’ by Molly Ann Wishlade

Life’s not just about horses and Harleys, but sometimes you have to get back in the saddle if you want to go along for the ride.

Henry Lockhart is a rich, successful businessman but life at the top can be lonely, especially as he vowed never to fall in love again after a painful bereavement.


Alex Castillo grew up in a small town where small minds made his life a misery. A disastrous love affair with a married man and the recent death of his mother led him to flee his hometown in search of a better life.


When their worlds collide after Alex takes a job as a groom at Henry’s stables, they both know that life will never be the same again.


But they’ve both been hurt, they’ve both suffered loss, shame and regret.


Can they find a way to be together, or will they both ride off into the sunset alone?



Publishers note: Royalties from the publisher will be donated to Cancer Research UK and Prospect Hospice in memory of Peter Laybourn, husband of Pride Publishing editor, Sue.

Book Review

This anthology of six stories about horses and the men who love them is a great collection of sweet romances, funny tales, and dark-ish mysteries. Some are set in the past, some in the present, but all focus on the sometimes unpredictable ways in which love manifests in men’s lives. You’ll find soft romances as well as hot trysts and everything in between in the pages of this anthology whose royalties from the publisher will be donated to Cancer Research UK and Prospect Hospice in memory of Peter Laybourn, husband of Pride Publishing editor, Sue.

The Lonely Ones by Bailey Bradford, reviewed by Alex

This clever little one-shot’s strength lies in the author’s ability to convey a full romantic HEA tale within seven chapters. There is even an epilogue. This robust tale is a real charmer and kept me smiling throughout its playful and erotic events.

Marshall Evans’s grumpy grandfather has died and left Marshall a horse ranch. Marshall has no interest in ranching and less interest in leaving his big city life to return to the small town where he was raised and tormented because of intolerance. He hopes to duck into town, sell the place, and get the hell out of Dodge. But Marshall runs into an unforeseen problem in the form of ranchman Rex Martinez.

Rex Martinez has been taking care of the few horses that remain on the once flourishing Thoroughbred ranch for years, solely on the promise that the ranch would be his one day. Now the old man has finally died and Rex can run the ranch the way it should have been run had not the owner interfered. But some city slicker has shown up professing to be the old man’s grandson and saying he plans to sell the ranch.

Marshall Evans and Rex Martinez are opposites in every way. But opposites attract and before long the two men are rubbing each other in the best possible way.

It was fun experiencing the fiery courtship of Marshall and Rex as they tried to find a way around a dilemma created by a homophobic dead man. Nice balance of plot and romance. In a word… “Sweet!”

Racing for Home by Morticia Knight, reviewed by Alex

I enjoyed this “poor boy-rich boy” romance set in the early 1900s, amidst the affluent world of a racehorse breeding. It’s got “swoon” appeal.

Charlie, a young groom at Piedmont Farms, fell hard and fast for Eddie Piedmont, son of the owner of the prestigious estate. Miraculously, Eddie reciprocated his feelings and a five-year secret affair filled with promises of love and forevers progressed. Charlie is crushed when, without warning, Eddie marries and leaves Piedmont Farms. Now Eddie is back—without his wife. But Charlie refuses to get his hopes up only to have them dashed again.

This is a nice, tightly woven, well-crafted love story peppered with the flavor of a traditional historical romance. Both Charlie and Eddie are clever in their own right and it was cool watching the ingenuity of their separate plans melt and reform as their trust grew. Charlie was adorable as the poor boy grown to an admirable man with a locked heart, and Eddie was perfect as the rich boy who grew a spine and a will to match. I really enjoyed Eddie’s endgame, which put a nice cherry atop this poignant and romantic tale. “Captivating!”

The Secret of Delville Wood by Helena Maeve, reviewed by Serena

Set just after WW1 at an extravagant estate in Sweden, this is a short story about greed, envy, and the dark machinations of people unwilling to risk anyone finding out exactly how they made their money. Its opening pages very effectively pulled me into this dark little mystery – it’s not every day a man’s dead body found shocks me into awareness as to exactly what is going on in a story.

Silas is the narrator of the story, and what follows his discovery of the body is a dizzying examination of each guest at the manor. Most of them have a connection to Delville Woods, the horse belonging to three men, but the exact details remain unclear for a long time. And while Silas is not a detective, he tries to figure out what is going on and who might be the murderer– in the absence of the police who can’t be called due to the telephone not working. He uncovers several layers, suspects a few of the guests, and in the end, when he figures out what has happened, he was about as shocked as I was.

If you like historical settings, if a short murder mystery is to your liking, and if you’re looking for a read filled with interesting characters and dark secrets, then you might like this short story.

Keeping the Luck in by L.M. Somerton, reviewed by Alex

This amusing little tale reveals the calamity–ridden romance between brawny blacksmith Rory Ironstone and the shy, small-of-statue, large-of-heart stable hand Pip Ryder.

This story holds the cuteness of a fantasy tale in that I kept picturing Pip as an elf and Rory as a sort of Paul Bunyan figure despite the events taking place in modern times. Both the characters and the story are well-developed, with thorough backstories and excellent descriptive settings laying the groundwork for Pip and Rory’s love adventure, but also providing enough fodder for a full book. Actually this story could be a prequel for an “adventures of Pip and Rory” series. Whoa, I guess that means I wouldn’t mind reading more about this tantalizing twosome who manage to find each other despite their unwieldy start.

While the cuteness factor outweighs the heat factor by several degrees, there is a nice playfulness to the smex that rounds out this captivating fairy-tale-ish short. “Charming!”

Just my Luck by Ethan Stone, reviewed by Serena

This story begins with two men meeting in a club and bonding over their heights – Kieran, as a jockey, is very short, Sam is extremely tall, and both have been made fun of in the past - before falling into bed with each other. As soon as the initial tryst is over, the tone changes and it turns out Sam is on a mission to fight crime that has both men reconsider their priorities.

Sam is in town to check the lay of the land, possibly collect evidence for his employer, the FBI. He quickly finds out that Kieran could be an ally, but things are more complicated than that. Loyalties are challenged, principles questioned, and Kieran ends up in more danger than Sam is willing to tolerate. But one thing is certain – neither Sam nor Kieran want to give up a chance at something more.

If you like stories about crime and the people who fight it, if you want to find out how two men who meet by chance deal with the fact that they are potentially on opposite sides of an FBI investigation, and if you’re looking for an action-filled read that is as suspenseful as it is hot, then you might like this short story.

Horses and Harleys by Molly Ann Wishlade, reviewed by Serena

Getting back in the saddle after a disappointment isn’t always easy. This story focuses on two men who have both dealt with loss and decided to keep their hearts under lock and key from now on. The problem is that, once they meet, that is no longer the easy option. In fact, the longer they know each other, the harder it is to resist temptation.

Henry may be a successful businessman, but he is lonely. After losing his lover, he has gone for one-night stands and that was fine until he is tempted by his new groom, Alex. Alex has lost his mother, was deceived by a previous lover, and has decided to begin a new life – working with horses – and ignore men. Needless to say, when he meets Henry, his new boss and falls for him almost immediately, resisting becomes close to impossible. But it takes a real crisis and Henry overcoming more than one fear for both men to realize that what they have found should not be wasted.

If you like sweet romances starring reluctant heroes, if two men who have both lost lovers – in different ways – sound interesting, and if you’re looking for a read with a message of hope, then you might like this short story.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Pride Publishing for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Anthology/6 short stories, 77150 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-December-2015
Price $8.50 ebook
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