Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Racing Savannah - Miranda Kenneally

Racing Savannah - Miranda Kenneally
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #4
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Source/Format: Bought || Paperback

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack… (from Goodreads)

Honestly, my initial reaction upon writing this review for Racing Savannah is to want to kick myself in the butt for not reading this one when it released last year. I liked Catching Jordan, Kenneally’s debut novel, but my love for her series was cemented with Stealing Parker and fortified by Things I Can’t Forget. So, knowing I really liked her writing, I should have seized the opportunity and read Racing Savannah when it was in my hands months ago.

Racing Savannah is considered another companion novel in the Hundred Oaks series. But really, it feels more like a new beginning, as readers are introduced to a new generation of characters to fall in love with. I love the familiarity of the community, but also enjoy the newness offered by these fun new people! 

But first, let’s focus on the one element that I loved about this book – the horses! I’ve been obsessed with the idea of horses and horseback riding since I was a little girl. (Relevant sidebar: I was a major fan of the Saddle Club books. Holler if you were too.) Though I’ve only really been riding a couple of times, it’s always been a really fun experience that I want to repeat!

Ahem, okay, back to reviewing now.

The story still evokes the Kenneally books of the past, focusing heavily on one character’s personal journey, and her relationships – familial, friendly & romantic. Savannah is our narrator – and she’s a really likable one, too! She’s really a typical teenager, albeit one with a strong interest in horses. Her struggles to give herself the best possible chance at a future (especially after recognizing her father’s financial difficulties), her genuine love for horses (from riding them to caring for them) and her willingness to do things for the people she cared about really won her major points with me. I liked that she made the best of her situation, and also happened to be pretty smart and downright funny at times.

As mentioned, many of Savannah’s relationships become important parts of this novel. She is very close to her father, who is afraid to lose Savannah after losing his wife. She starts out not really caring about her stepmother-to-be, but still willing to do anything for her and the baby she’s carrying. She becomes friends with Rory, a groom at the stables her father works at (and little brother to a guy named Will *winks*) and Vanessa, a surprisingly down-to-earth rich girl. She also has a pretty good repartee with the stable hands, grooms and exercise trainers, and even with the family that owns the stables.

And then there’s Jack. He is a rich boy, determined to prove to his father that he can capably manage their family business – their stables + horses. Jack’s known nothing but privilege all his life, but it’s pretty endearing to see how dedicated he is to making sure he handles business well. There were times when I wanted to tear his eyes out for the things he said or the way he acted, but there were also times that I wanted to hug him. In the end, he turns out to be a guy worth rooting for, that’s for sure.

There are a few things that really surprised me about Racing Savannah – and again, in the best way:

  • Sex: I was very pleasantly surprised to see that Kenneally didn’t shy away from things of a sexual nature. The reality is that many teenagers are sexually active – and that’s their choice to make. I really appreciated that Kenneally treated it as a part of regular life; it’s an excellent attitude to have.
  • Social class: This is obviously one of the bigger issues in this novel, as Jack is rich and Savannah is, well, not-so-rich. Seeing how their realities, despite an overlap when it came to working with horses, were so different was pretty startling. I sometimes forget that extremes like this do exist, and I think Kenneally did admirably in painting a picture that seemed pretty unbiased (and didn’t attack one class for particular qualities).
  • College & the future: One of the things many teens struggle to figure out is what they want for their future, and what they’ll be doing for the rest of their lives. Kenneally depicts two situations here. Jack is set to run the family business, and wants to. Savannah assumes she’ll go straight from high school to working around horses. It’s interesting to see how both situations play out for them, especially Savannah’s, and I really think it felt realistic.
Racing Savannah was the perfect read to get back in the saddle with the Kenneally series. (See what I did there?) Really, it’s got the signature charm of the first three in the series, due to an irresistible combination of characters (including appearances of all of my old favorites) + setting + story. It was a stellar addition to the Hundred Oaks collection, and a very solid contemporary read all in all.

1 comment:

  1. I need to read this series soon. All of my favorite reviewers seem to love it so much. Plus, Miranda Kenneally is so sweet. Thanks for reminding me to pick these books up; great review!

    ReplyDelete

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