Something Worth Keeping (#39) by Kathleen Eagle, copyright 1986, apart of the “Men at Work” series published by Silhouette, price $4.99 and out of print.
I am a big Kathleen Eagle fan. She is one of the best contemporary writers of romance fiction today. I’ve read most of her back list made up of single contemporary titles but very few of her series romances. After reading, Something Worth Keeping, I see that her talent for storytelling was honed pretty early in her career.
The story is a simple one that hit on all the right buttons for me. Reading this story, I did recognize a few of the romance cliches of the 80’s that in another author’s hands wouldn’t have worked as well but Eagle manages to make this story a memorable one that I won’t soon forget. I’m happy to report that this novel seems to stand the test of time, too.
Twenty-six year old Brenna Sinclair has just inherited some property in South Dakota. When the story opens, she’s driving there to check it out because she has to decide if she’s going to keep it or sell it. There’s just one problem: her estranged father stays on the land that she now owns.
Hank Sinclair is a breeder of Arabian horses and he has never owned the property that he has sweated over for x-amount of years. It’s a complicated situation to say the least. Father and daughter are estranged. To fill readers in on Brenna’s background, she had a crappy childhood and pent up anger at her father’s abandonment. Brenna’s mother was a jet-setter who felt weighed down by her responsibilities.
Brenna arrives at Pheasant Run to the surprise of her father. They have an awkward meeting, as most people who are related by blood but who are complete strangers to each other, often do. Brenna tells him that she’s there to check out the property and nothing more.
For the reader, Brenna’s trip is more than just appraising the property but pleasing her father and secretly hoping for his approval despite her resentment of his past actions. She also learns that she has a half-brother named Kyle, who seems set on gaining her approval and respect.
Her father’s farrier, Cord O’Brien, drops in while Hank’s giving Brenna the grand tour of the ranch and land. The attraction between the two is immediate. It’s more of a friendly interest that slowly and naturally changes into something more.
Their romance is nice set against the backdrop of horse racing. If you love horses then you would really enjoy this book, since the subplot of the story surrounds an Endurance race that serves as the climatic arc of the story and brings everything and everyone together.
You see, Brenna and Hank make a bet with each other and there’s a lot at stake. If she loses, she must sell him the deed to the house at fair price. What sparked it was Brenna championing an Arabian horse named Valiant who everyone says is a cull. She’s determined to train him and race him in the Rocky Top Endurance Race. A kind of “I will show you” type of deal.
Back home, Brenna is an respected horse trainer. Her methods are unorthodox but scientifically sound. Brenna is competitive and as far as first impressions go, she comes off rather uppity. She is somewhat arrogant, having had articles published by her and about her in respected magazines of her profession. She learns that her father has been secretly following her career and we know that he is proud of her. The problem is that both of them don’t know how to bridge the gap that has yawned between them, that will allow for the healing process to begin.
The romance is center stage and it is a nice one. There is the sexual banter that can sometimes get pretty steamy. That’s Ms. Eagle’s trademark and she does a damn good of it in here as well. I love her sexual banter. Often times, it is much steamier than the gymnastics in the bedroom.
However, this novel rates about a PG as there are love scenes but there is nothing graphic about them. There is plenty of intimacy and intimate conversations that I really enjoyed. I really liked Cord as he tries to get Brenna out of her shell. We can see that Brenna and Cord have a lot in common. Cord is half-Sioux and half white. His mother left him when he was a child. He was raised by Jessie, a man whom his mother loved but who ended up leaving them both.
Cord comes from the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. He trains Spanish mustangs and has a bad back. He’s stubborn when it comes to medical attention for his aches and pains but he manages to make Brenna less skittish and gives her what she needs most: for him to believe in her.
Cord has never asked a woman to stay for fear that she’ll up and leave him. However, Cord falls hard for a lady born with a silver spoon in her mouth. It was nice watching him ask her to stay after knowing how hard it was for him say it. Whatever conflicts they had occurred naturally within the story and was not contrived. These are adults who know how to communicate with each other and I certainly appreciated that aspect of their relationship.
This is a long review for a short book so let me wrap it up. I liked Brenna and Cord both as a couple and the ending left me with a stupid grin and a feeling that is all is right in the world. For a novel that engaged me and managed to make me care about these characters and the outcome of this race at the end deserves a good grade, don’t you think? My grade, A. This was a keeper. I am so happy to have found this book and hope to read many more of her series books in future.
This review is apart of the TBR Day challenge where my fellow readers and I are meeting the challenge of reading books out of TBR piles. Please make sure to check out the other participants of this challenge. Enjoy and thank you all for participating!
And here are some other titles that I’ve enjoyed by Kathleen Eagle: Reason to Believe,What the Heart Knows, This Time Forever, Fire and Rain, and The Last Good Man. Jayne reviewed her latest novel and I’m sure it’s good. I have it TBR and will read it soon.