Title: Wild Horses
Author: Kate Pavelle
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Links: Buy Link Amazon, Dreamspinner
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Long Novel (350 pages)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
A Guest Review by J.K. Hogan
Review Summary: A good book with a lot going on, though I didn’t connect as well as I would like.
Homeless pickpocket Kai Alwright steals a cell phone and some cash one day only to find the owner texting him, appealing to his better qualities. The request to return the phone stings Kai’s pride; he rides his rusty bicycle all the way to the stables north of the city, where Attila Keleman, the phone’s owner, offers him a new start in the form of a job and a roof over his head. Soon Kai discovers a natural talent for work with horses, and he makes every effort to separate his new existence from his promiscuous past on the streets.
Attila is a reclusive horse trainer whose dressage trophies gather dust, and whose broken heart has been walled off. His undiagnosed Asperger’s makes life around people a challenge, but though he prefers the company of horses, Attila finds Kai’s presence tolerable—even refreshing.
When a client who rides at the stable with her daughter finds out Attila is “still gay,” she tries to run Kai off—and she doesn’t stop there. Mortified, her adult daughter runs away and falls victim to a dark figure from Kai’s past. Kai joins Attila in a rescue mission that tears the civilized masks off their hidden pasts.
Wild Horses is the story of a down on his luck, homeless man, Kai, and a prominent horse farm owner, Attila. The two of them meet when Kai steals Attila’s phone, and Attila texts him and convinces him to return it. Kai comes all the way out to Attila’s horse farm where he meets Cayenne, née Vermillion, a stallion that he becomes infatuated with. I loved the juxtaposition of Cayenne’s wild nature with Kai’s own temperament. They were both in need of a little taming.
Kai starts working at the stables for Attila and quickly falls in love with horses and riding. As someone who was separated from his family at a young age, Kai finds that Attila’s family and friends at the barn are a sort of surrogate family for him. He struggles to accept that at first, but eventually he learns that he really is capable of being loved.
Attila and Kai dance around their attraction for each other for a while before finally getting together, and their romance his very sweet and gradual. I loved Kai and I connected with him the most out of all the characters. I wish we would have gotten more of the full story of his family and how he grew up.
I never connected with Attila, at least until the very end when he got a little bit vulnerable. He was just a strange fellow, and I’m not sure it was explained that well why he was so stoic and stiff—at least, that’s the way he seemed most of the time. It just felt like he never loosened up, and reading about him, I could just practically feel him clenching.
I didn’t connect with this story as much as I thought and hoped that I would. There was a lot going on in this book. There were quite a few secondary characters and a lot of subplots woven around all of them. There were various conflicts between secondary characters that affected the main characters, and a lot of misunderstandings between Attila and Kai. It was just a bit of sensory overload. I just wasn’t able to sink into the story as much as I usually do.
Being a horse person, I love stories that are horse related. From the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, I gather that Ms. Pavelle enlisted the help of a horse person for that aspect of the book. It was definitely well researched, because most of the details were quite believable to someone like myself who has experience with equines. However there were a few parts that were farfetched, such as Kai being able to sit a fractious stallion bareback at a full gallop with no problem even though he’d never ridden before, when riding bareback is difficult for even an experienced rider. But then again, that can be chalked up to creative license, as it is fiction, after all. So even the more fantastical elements of the equine part of the story didn’t bother me too much.
The book was extremely well written, though at times the prose was a little bit on the flowery side, and there were no stumbling blocks whatsoever in that area. Even though it was just good for me, I think plenty of people would enjoy this book, and it’s definitely worth a read, especially if you like horses.