Ride Free by Jessica Whitman

 

 

ride free.jpgTitle: Ride Free

Author: Jessica Whitman

Genre: Popular Fiction

Publisher: Arena/Allen and Unwin

Published: 23rd November, 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 320

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: When legendary polo player Carlos Del Campo’s will is read to his grieving family they’re shocked to discover he has a daughter, Antonia, he never told them about. Not long after this revelation, Carlos’s eldest son, Alejandro, sets out to find his long-lost sister.

 

Having always dreamt of one day being reunited with her father, Antonia – aka Noni – is heartbroken when the half-brother she’s never met arrives on her doorstep with news of Carlos’s death. Despite her anguish she decides to accept Alejandro’s offer of a job in the family polo business, though she worries about her outsider status.

 

When Enzo Rivas, the Del Campos’ loyal stable master, sees what a brilliant rider Noni is he’s convinced she could transform the family polo team’s lagging fortunes. Complicating things is that he and Noni are rapidly falling in love with each other. Then a secret from Noni’s past threatens both her new life and her budding romance with Enzo …

 

Full of secrets, scandal and passion, Ride Free is about overcoming fear to find happiness in life – and love.

 

 

~*~

 

As someone who is not a big reader of the romance genre, unless the romance and the other aspects of the story are given equal footing, this book wasn’t to my personal tastes. The concept of a secret daughter, one that has been hidden from the family was intriguing, though. Jessica Whitman’s Antonia (Noni) is close to turning thirty after finding out eight years previously about her father’s death and being taken back to the Del Campo family. She hasn’t had an easy life though, and is struggling to find her place. Yet again, polo makes an appearance, and I found that even though it is an important part of the Del Campo family, it perhaps needed a little more background for readers that might not be familiar with it.

 

I found myself wishing that the romance between Noni and Enzo had been given a little more meat, and when it turned into a love triangle between her ex, her and Enzo, I had hoped for a little more than the ex just appearing with her mother and Noni falling into a tizzy over which man to go with. Refreshingly though, she wasn’t the only one flailing in the throes of a romance. Seeing Enzo do so was interesting, and gave him an extra dimension that would have been interesting to explore further.

The one downfall I have had with this, and Wild One has been that the most interesting storylines – the film making and the secret daughter plots, played second fiddle to the others. I felt these would have made the stories meatier, and given the characters more depth, as they all felt either too perfect, or in the case of Noni’s ex, too imperfect. Even though I didn’t enjoy either of these books, and admittedly read them rather quickly to get onto the next review book in my piles, I still think they have their place and their audience. This audience is not me but more likely people who want a relatively quick read that doesn’t need much interrogation of plots and characters, or romance lovers. It is definitely written to these audiences and those searching for escapism.

Wild One by Jessica Whitman

I received a copy from the publisher for review

wildone.jpg

 

Title: Wild One

Author: Jessica Whitman

Genre: Popular Fiction

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Arena

Published: 24th August 2016/September 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Trade Paperback edition

Pages: 320

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Love, scandal and seduction in the glamorous world of polo

 

When Katherine ‘Kat’ Parker wrote and directed a blockbuster movie she became Hollywood’s ‘It Girl’ overnight – until with one flop she wasn’t. Now Kat is back living in Florida trying to find the inspiration to write what she hopes will be her comeback screenplay.

 

Despite being an exceptionally talented polo player, Sebastian Del Campo has never shared his famous family’s intense passion for the sport. He has, however, excelled at other polo-related activities – like partying hard and having liaisons with beautiful women.

 

When Sebastian meets Kat he finds her down-to-earth attitude refreshing. Keen to get to know her better, he regales Kat with stories of his trailblazing grandmother, Victoria, who was a pioneering polo player.

 

Kat’s imagination is fired by Victoria’s story and she realises she’d make a great subject for a screenplay. Seb agrees and the pair head to Hollywood to seek out funding for a film that could make or break both their careers – and their growing feelings for each other . . .

 

Fun, sexy and entertaining, this novel is about taking a risk to follow your passions in life – and love.

 

~*~

 

Usually, I am not a big reader of romance, at least when it is the main plot. Kat’s story opens with a meeting with someone in the movie business as she is trying to re-establish her name in Hollywood after a flop at the box office. She returns home to help her parents, where she meets the Del Campos, a wealthy family in Florida involved in the polo circuit. Kat’s first encounter with the talented Sebastian Del Campo comes rather quickly, and a relationship begins to build, with Kat trying to focus on writing a new screenplay that will hopefully get her back into the good graces of the film-making industry. This is the plot point that appealed to me, and that I really enjoyed reading and wanted more of. It had a lot of promise and potential to create a great story and evolution of the characters. I also wanted more of the story behind Kat’s story – the story of Sebastian’s grandmother and her time as a polo player. I wanted to see this in action, maybe through flashbacks.

This is the perfect novel if you enjoy romance novels or if you just want a quick read. The length of the chapters had me reading so fast, I didn’t realise it, but the pacing felt right for the novel and its style and genre. It may not have suited my tastes, however, but this is a personal decision. What was refreshing was that the initial description of Sebastian sets him up to be the bad boy trope. He isn’t really a bad boy, however. He doesn’t want to hurt Kat once he has met her, and perhaps this is one redeeming feature – that the heroine doesn’t feel the need to chase him or fix him.

There are other aspects that are good: the characters want things to work out for the best; they don’t want to hinder anyone, or ruin things. As a romance novel, it was refreshing to see that some tropes and stereotypes were avoided, but not all. It would still fit comfortably on a shelf of romance novels, though, and has been properly geared towards the intended audience of the novel.

I would recommend it for avid romance fans, or people just looking for a few hours of escapism – it fits into both of these categories nicely.