10 May 2014

The Riding Master Tour Stop!!

A woman finding her way.
After a devastating divorce, an emotionally skittish Rayne Masterson swears off men and vows to devote her life to her passion, horses. 
A man with insatiable desires.
Trent Newbury is an expert rider who is arrogant, brash, and has a ruthless reputation for getting any woman he desires. 
As the new riding master at Southland Stables, Trent is eager to make sure all of his riders are the best they can be. But when he meets Rayne, he takes a special interest in taming the beautiful woman’s stubborn nature. Slowly and deliberately, he weakens her defenses with his charm and beguiling good looks. And just when he thinks he has won Rayne’s trust, his philandering past threatens to pull them apart. 
She thought no man could ever touch her heart, until she met…The Riding Master.
I was really hoping that the “Riding Master” was a double entrandre.  I was not disappointed. 
Rayne was basically a trophy wife.  Just a year out of her divorce to a much older man, she finds solace in her horse.  She’s emotionally closed off and content to work, train with her horse and teach riding lessons.  That is, until she meets the new riding master (wink, wink), Trent.  Trent is drawn to Rayne.  He wants her, and he sets about making her his.  Rayne is understandably aloof, and wants nothing to do with Trent. Will his persistence pay off?  Will Rayne allow Trent to show her that not all men are like her ex, and convince her to open up and love again?
I liked the characters in this book quite a bit.  They were realistic.  I felt that Rayne approached men and life in a way that most women in her position would have.  I mean, after your husband betrays you and embarrasses you so horribly, you don’t just trust willy-nilly.  She’s trying to find her place again, and I couldn’t blame her for her decisions or actions.  And Trent…oh Trent.  He is awesome.  Focused and determined, but gentle.  He challenges Rayne and takes her outside of her comfort zone, but does so respectfully and with what I thought was her best interests in mind.  He is exactly what I like to read in a hero.  And he’s sexy…can’t forget the sexy.   Rawr.
This story is really at its heart a story about a woman learning to live again.  Letting go of the past to find your future and taking steps that scare you is what Rayne must do, and I loved reading about her journey. It’s difficult to take risks when you’ve been let down so horribly before, but looking past that to find your own self-worth is what’s really important.  There are great lessons in this book all around.
Overall, I thought this was a touching, well written and infinitely sexy book.  I loved the characters and their story.  4 stars.
Do you remember the scene in Moonstruck when Cher slaps Nicholas Cage and yells “Snap out of it!”? That’s how I felt about Rayne several times in the book, especially the last third of it. I so totally understand her hesitancy when dealing with Trent in the beginning and with her history, it wasn’t unwarranted as it continued once she finally conceded to date him. However, once she came to the realization that he wasn’t at all like her ex-husband and that Trent really did love her and she had to fix it, the next time she encounters him she slips right back into her avoidance mode. THEN, is when I wanted to pull a Cher on her. As if once wasn’t enough, she does continues her self-destructive pattern of avoidance behaviors that nearly cost her a chance at happiness.

Fortunately, Trent is more determined to succeed than she is to avoid, which is what makes The Riding Master an enjoyable read. Don’t get me wrong, other than that infuriating character flaw, Rayne is a great character and it’s easy for the reader to see why Trent falls for her. As a successful and accomplished Riding Master, Trent has been overexposed to (in his opinion) the wrong type of women … husband hunters, gold diggers, and women just looking for a quick roll in the hay (no pun intended). So to meet someone who is serious about riding and has no interest in impressing him, Rayne is a breath of fresh air, albeit a skittish one. Amusingly, he uses his skills with dealing with skittish horses to “tame” Rayne and work his way into her life; this makes for some humorous interactions, touching moments, and some seriously HOT sex once they finally get together.

Ms. Weis has produced a well-written book that was an enjoyable read for me. And while I still want to slap Rayne a time or two, once she got her act together the ending was even better than I expected. 
His swagger was the first thing that stood out in her mind. The sway of his hips exuded a ruthless overconfidence, but as her eyes traveled up from the curve of his blue jeans to his wide chest and thick, tanned arms, her temperature began to quickly climb. When she was within a few feet of him, his thin lips twisted into a devilish smile, almost a teasing smirk that Rayne found more offensive than alluring.
    What an asshole, she thought as he drew near.
    She curiously studied the square curve of his jaw and his slightly bent nose. His hair was thick, wavy, almost black, and was in need of a good trim. His sunken cheekbones accentuated the tan on his face, while his high brow was etched with a few worry lines that complimented instead of detracted from his appearance. When he lowered his sunglasses, she noted the way his riveting gray eyes drank in her figure.
     Rayne concluded that she could never be interested in such an obvious man. She was used to men ogling her buxom figure; her ex-husband used to do it all the time when they had first started dating. But what was exciting in her twenties, she now found repugnant in her thirties, making her wonder if all the real gentlemen had gone the way of the dodo bird.
     “You’re Rayne Greer, right?” His voice was a lot smoother than when he had been shouting at his students. Tinged with a lustful, smoky quality that many women would have found alluring, Rayne felt her uneasiness with the man begin to gnaw at her.
     Ignoring his engaging eyes, she gathered up Bob’s reins. “Yes, I’m Rayne Greer,” she flatly stated, deciding to play it cool.
     He held out a thick hand to her. “Trent Newbury, the new riding master for Southland Stables. Rebecca Harmon told me about you. She said you were great with kids.”
     When Bob rubbed his head against her back, eager to move on, Rayne turned away from his outstretched hand to the horse beside her. “Yes, I teach the under twelve and beginners groups for Rebecca on the weekends.” 
     He lowered his hand to his side, unaffected by her snub. “Rebecca told me you showed a lot of potential.” He eyed the slender dark bay thoroughbred. “Is this your mount?”
     “Yes, he’s a racetrack rescue Rebecca sold me a year ago.” Rayne rubbed Bob’s long neck. “Where’s your horse?”
     “Don’t have one right now. I just sold my mare a few weeks back.” He took a step closer to her, making Bob give a short snort of surprise. “He’s high spirited,” Trent remarked, giving Bob’s neck a pat.
     “Careful,” Rayne warned. “He doesn’t like strangers, especially men.”
     Bob turned his head and tried to nip at Trent’s arm.
     Trent chuckled. “Where did he learn that trick, from you?”
     “No.” She shifted uneasily on her feet, uncomfortable with the close proximity of the man. “He was abused by jockeys and trainers when he raced on the track. No man could get near him when Rebecca first bought him. I started working with him in hopes of turning him into a schooling horse. After a time, I opted to buy him…or my ex bought him for me.” She noticed the way Bob seemed to calm as Trent’s powerful hand glided over his back.
     “Ex?” Trent’s sharp eyes returned to Rayne. “You’re divorced.”
     Rayne was surprised by the way his slight smile instantly warmed his unsettling features. All of his cocky assurance disappeared and he seemed almost genuine.
     “You have the most intriguing eyes,” he murmured, staring at her. “There are flecks of gold amid the hazel in them.”
     Rayne’s toes curled in her black riding boots. “I, ah….” She diverted her eyes to Bob. “I’m surprised he’s letting you get that close.”
     “I have a way with horses. They find me…irresistible.”
     So much for seeming genuine, she reflected. “That must be a great comfort to you,” she sharply returned. “Knowing you have such sway over four-legged animals like that. Or were you talking about another kind of animal?”
     His eyebrows went up. “Well, well, not only does your horse have spirit, his rider seems to as well.”
     “Perhaps you are confusing spirit with sarcasm, Mr. Newbury.”
     He grinned at her, folding his thick arms over his chest. “It’s Trent, and I think you’re wrong. You have to have a good bit of spirit and wit in order to be sarcastic. Telling people what you think of them takes a hell of a lot of guts, too.”
     “Guts or stupidity? There’s a difference. One usually gets you into trouble, and the other is needed to get you out of it.”
     Trent’s roaring laughter reverberated throughout the shed row. “Wow, you’re a little fireball, aren’t you?” He unfurled his arms. “Are you always like this? Or is this just for my benefit?”   
     Rayne’s patience with the arrogant man had reached a turning point and she longed for their encounter to end. “Nice meeting you, Trent. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Her first novel, To My Senses, introduced readers to the world of Nicci Beauvoir and garnered numerous awards and rave reviews. Her popular second Nicci Beauvoir novel, Recovery, won the Gold Medal for Best Romantic Suspense from the 2011 Readers' Favorite Book Awards, and was named Best Romantic Suspense novel by the Spring 2011 NABE Pinnacle Book Awards. Her fourth novel, Broken Wings, won Best Contemporary Romance at the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2012, and the Silver Medal at the 2012 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards for Contemporary Romance. Diary of a One-Night Stand, was released in August 2012 and was named a Paranormal Romance Guild's Best Reviewed of 2012. Acadian Waltz was a finalist in the 2013 Readers' Favorite Book Awards for Best Contemporary Romance and Best Southern Fiction. A permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.


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