Recently I was contacted by Alison Hart, who asked if I'd be interested in reviewing her books Shadow Horse and Whirlwind, and offering a giveaway. I was thrilled she thought of me, and I confessed that I still have a huge collection of horse books from when I was a kid (three shelves worth, in fact). Alison lives in Virginia and is the author of more than sixty children's books. You can check out her website HERE.
Shadow Horse opens with the main character, Jasmine (Jas) finding herself in deep trouble. Her grandfather has had a stroke, and her beloved horse Whirlwind is dead. All of this is directly related to the wealthy but evil-hearted Hugh Robicheaux, whom Jas assaulted with a hoof pick, landing herself in the court system. At the hearing, she receives 45 days of probation and is placed in foster care, since she doesn't have a relative to go home to.
Jas finds herself placed at the run-down animal rescue, Second Chance Farm. Her grandfather is in a nursing home, and she fears for his recovery. Ms. Hahn, the foster mother, seems nice enough, but when Jas sees a picture of her with Hugh Robicheaux, she knows she can't be trusted. She is very much alone, in spite of some other kids her age - Chase and Lucy - who could be potential friends.
When Jas rides along to a horse auction, she sees a horse with a rare thyroid problem. His condition is completely debilitated, but Jas sees through the bones and sagging head to an underlying strong conformation and power. She talks Ms. Hahn into purchasing the animal, and they bring home her Shadow Horse. Mr. Danvers, the vet, confirms Jas's suspicions and with treatment for the thyroid problem Shadow makes a strong recovery. So strong, in fact, that in no time he's jumping out of pasture fences. And then Jas realizes that there is something more to this horse. He reminds her of another horse that previously belonged to Hugh Robicheaux, long deceased, named Aladdin.
How will Jas link Aladdin to Whirlwind? And what will happen when she returns to court? Will her grandfather recover? And what about all these threats that Mr. Robicheaux keeps making? Shadow Horse will leave you wanting to know more!
Whirlwind opens by summarizing what happened in Shadow Horse. There is a case against Hugh Robicheaux for insurance fraud - that he killed a 'ringer' horse for Aladdin and sold the real Aladdin overseas for big money (plus collected on insurance). But how can they prove that Shadow is the real Aladdin? And will Jas be able to get released from probation and live with her grandfather again (who is currently in a nursing home)?
At her 45 day court hearing, Jas has the support of her grandfather, Miss Hahn, Chase, and Mr. Danvers. But Hugh Robicheaux corners her alone and threatens to release a surveillance tape that shows her and Chase breaking into the office of his stables. He also threatens to harm Second Chance Farm if Jas doesn't stop searching for Whirlwind. How does Hugh know that Jas is searching for Whirlwind? He must have a spy somewhere on Second Chance Farm - is it Mr. Muggins, a volunteer whose wife died of cancer, or is it ex-rodeo rider Rand? Jas decides that she has no choice but to stop looking for Whirlwind to keep the farm safe.
A house trailer is moved to Second Chance Farm for Jas and her grandfather. Moldy and in shambles, Jas begins to fix it up to be home. Meanwhile, she can't resist continuing to search for Whirlwind. She begins calling around to try to find the person who hauled Whirlwind away. Marietta Baylor, a chameleon of an insurance investigator, moves in to help search for Whirlwind.
Meanwhile, donations are down at Second Chance Farm and the cost of hay is up. They only have one month of operating budget left. Is Mr. Robicheaux behind this? And when someone winds up dead, how will they prove that Mr. Robicheaux is connected? The end of Whirlwind will sweep you along with plenty of intrigue, a budding romance between Jas and Chase, and a cross-country chase that culminates with a surging hurricane, electricity and security system outages, and of course, the attempted vengence of Hugh Robicheaux.