Title: “The Riding Master”
Author: Alexandrea Weis
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 26th April, 2014
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.
Complimentary copy given by the author in exchange for an honest review
I have only read one other book by Alexandrea Weis, (“Cover To Covers”) but she has very quickly become a favourite author of mine. Her characters always feel so lifelike, with real, honest issues, and the settings of her books are described in such a manner that you truly feel as if you are a part of her stories.
I have to start this review by telling you that even if you are not a horse lover like myself, I strongly urge you to read “The Riding Master”. It has everything that I could wish for in a romance novel: some drama, some pain, and, ultimately, simply a beautiful story about a woman scarred by her past and the man who is more than willing to make her believe that he is her perfect match.
As usual, I want to focus mostly on the characters, Rayne and Trent, instead of going into too many details about the actual story line because if you, like me, really do not care for spoilers, I want to avoid making them, thus ruining the story for you.
So let me begin by introducing you to our heroine, Rayne. Just in her early thirties, she has a failed marriage to a much older man, Foster, behind her. The only thing she wanted out of her divorce was being able to keep her horse, Bob (and I love that name, by the way), and, fortunately, her ex did not refuse her. It has been a year since her divorce, but Rayne has not exactly moved on from it. Emotionally closed off, she goes to work, rides her horse in the afternoons, and she is also a riding instructor for juniors at the stables where she keeps Bob – she may not feel happiness as such, but she is content. But her quiet life is soon rocked by the new riding master, Trent Newbury.
Trent takes one look at Rayne and sets about to woo her. Undeterred by Rayne’s aloofness, even her rudeness, Trent is determined to show Rayne that he is honorable and a completely different man from her ex-husband…But will Rayne be able to find it in her heart to let another man in? That is the real question here and you will just have to read the book in order to find out.
“I only want a woman who intrigues me, excites me, and makes me want her. And that woman, is you…only you, Rayne.” (Trent)
I completely fell for Rayne: at first, she seems rather insecure, but definitely not weak as some may first think when they read the book. In my opinion, she is simply shy when it comes to the opposite sex, embarrassed by her failed marriage, and seeing as that has been her only real relationship, she does not know that things can be so much better. Furthermore, her very strained relationship with her mother does not exactly help matters, and I completely understand her being afraid of forming any kind of genuine attachments.
“For Rayne, looking ahead in some ways was just as painful as looking back. Sometimes she did not know what was worse: the regret over past mistakes, or the worry over mistakes yet to come.” (Rayne)
Not many women, however young/old they might be, just jump into a relationship after having found their husband in bed with another woman. At least, I do not know of many. So I really think that her apprehension about Trent seems genuine and realistic. You know how important it is for me to truly connect with the characters in the books I read, and part of me falling for Rayne was seeing her opening up to Trent: it does not happen over-night, far from it, so experiencing her blossom under Trent’s behavior towards her made my romantic heart sigh happily.
And Trent: what an amazing character he is! Here is a man unafraid of giving over his heart to the woman he wants; he is a man with no hidden agendas, no real skeletons in the closet – at least none that are too important. He is exactly who he says he is, and I find it very refreshing to see this in a book hero. As with Rayne, he just feels so real, and the fact that he knows how to treat a woman with respect earns him major points in my world. I also have to mention that his playful, naughty, and, I might add, dominant character traits most definitely made this bookaholic swoon more than once while reading the book.
“I’m not looking for a woman to make me look good. I’m looking for someone I can build a life with.” (Trent)
The banter between Rayne and Trent is so fantastic that I, on occasion, found myself reading certain scenes more than twice, actually, because I was either grinning like a goof or simply laughing so hard that tears sprung to my eyes. Aside from the fact that Miss Weis has a gift of creating a h/H that both seem realistic, she also shows real talent when giving us some wonderful secondary characters. There is Rayne’s boss at the stables, Rebecca, who, despite showing a hard, cynical mask to the outside world, is a real romantic at heart; then there is Lindsey, Rayne’s coworker, who, although having been happily married for several years, is addicted to romance novels and she loves to give Rayne advice on how to catch the eye of the opposite sex. (Honestly, some of the things she says…Well, they made my ears turn red!) Last, but definitely not least, let me not forget to mention Frank, Rayne’s great mutt of a dog: he is adorable!
Now, to me, this truly is a story that focus on one woman’s journey to finding happiness, and realising her own self-worth. But it is also a story about learning to let the past go…to stop looking behind you and start looking forward instead. It is a story about how taking risks is sometimes necessary, especially concerning matters of the heart. Because once you learn to trust in others, and to put faith in yourself? That is when you reap the greatest of rewards: love. In my opinion, love is the most important thing in the world, even though it is also the scariest.
“What would it be like to be held in the arms of a man who was passionate, experienced, and interested in only pleasing her?” (Rayne)
I could keep going on and on about how much I adore Rayne and Trent’s love story, but I will refrain from repeating myself, and finish my review by telling you that Miss Weis captured my heart and mind once again, and I am looking forward to spending many more hours of my life inside the pages of her novels in the years to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards 2011, and was named best Romantic Suspense novel by the Spring 2011 NABE Pinnacle Book Awards. Her fourth novel, Broken Wings, won best Contemporary Romance by the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2012, was a Silver Medal winner in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards for Romance, as well as a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards for Contemporary Romance for 2012. Her last novel, Acadian Waltz received honorable mention at the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards for Best Contemporary Romance and a Gold Medal at the Feather Quill Book Awards Program for Romance. 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