Friday, July 15, 2011

Tote That Barge . . . Lift That Bale: Murphy's Law by Sandy James

Seth Remington had a fortune at his fingertips, but something was missing in his life. Purpose.

Knowing he has one last chance to redeem his son, terminally ill Sterling Remington rewrites his will. To earn his inheritance, his son Seth must labor as a groom for a horse trainer.

Katie Murphy's orderly existence is turned upside down by Sterling Remington's will. Raised on hard work and dedicated to her harness racing stable, Katie agrees to take Seth on as a groom. How can she ever fulfill the challenge of instilling a work ethic in Seth and still keep her faltering stable running?

Kept at arm's length by the strict terms of Sterling's will, Seth and Katie are forced to struggle with their growing attraction until a devastating racing accident forces them to take a hard look at their relationship. How much is he willing to risk for her love?

Sterling Remington was a business genius and through hard work and careful oversight built a technology giant and accrued a massive personal fortune. He had been widowed for years and his business had taken most of his time and energy. His son, Seth, lived the gilded life of wealthy playboy complete with his circle of playmates, a fiancee who may have been the darling of society but was a woman who he really didn't love, and he was in possession of just about everything money could buy except a positive direction for his life. In a burst of tough love, Papa Remington decided to change his will. Reflecting his love of horses and harness racing in particular, Seth's dad put him at the bottom of the income ladder, directing him to empty his pockets of Remington money, credit cards, cars, and only retain two suitcases of clothes as he began his career as a stable boy for Kate Murphy, a trainer of harness racing horses.

Kate Murphy was really different from any woman Seth had been close to ever! Hard working, focused, goal-oriented, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of woman, glowing with health and determined to overcome any barrier to her making a name for herself in the harness racing world. At her direction, Seth had to muck out stalls, learn to care for the horses' needs, feed, water, harness, exercise, and protect her racing stock and that of her clients who had placed their horses with her for training. It was a whole new world of smells and dirt, having to care for something and someone outside himself, using his muscles for hard work and not just "putting the pedal to the medal" as he tore down highways. But Kate's innate honesty and genuine spirit of caring for her animals and her friends--one of whom had been Seth's dad--formed the basis for his initial attraction out of which slowly grew his emotional attachment to her.

This story chronicles this journey of a spoiled brat who needed some serious attitude adjustment and whose dad knew that by tying down his son Seth would have probably the first opportunity in his life to taste the sweet flavor of accomplishment through hard work and determination. Seth actually became quite accomplished as a harness racing driver and at the time when the bottom fell out of this new existence he was in much demand by several stables and owners. But when his true identity became known, his connection with Kate ended immediately, including any future contact between them for five years. Anything else would mean he would lose his fortune.

There are many layers in this stories and they put together so that it is almost as if a weaver has taken many threads and woven them into a complete story. The love story between Kate and Seth is at the heart, but there is also their love affair with the horses and for the sport, the relationships Seth develops with others in the racing world, and the negative presence of individuals who have nursed grudges against Kate for many years. It is about the value of hard work, the values that give life true meaning, the value of love versus the value of material wealth, and the important ingredients of a life worth living.

This is Ms James' first novel in the "Damaged Heroes" series and it has been available for a couple of years. Yet is was new to me and I am sure that there are many who have never read one of Ms James' novels, at least from this particular series. (The fourth novel in this series is a "free read" at Siren Publishing.) It could be said that Ms James brings the energy of real life into her romance fiction and with that comes the lessons all of us can learn from the experience of others. Perhaps that is one of the things I love most about romance fiction. And this book has it in spades. I have already downloaded the second novel, a book that continues the story of one of the important secondary characters in this book. This book will entertain while it energizes the mind and warms the heart. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

1 comment:

Sandy James said...

It means so much to me that you enjoyed Murphy's Law because it is truly the "book of my heart." My husband and I own a small stable of harness racing horses, and writing ML was my way to "share" that world.
Thanks for the beautiful and thoughtful review!!