Age: Young Adult
Interest: Miranda Kenneally/Try this author again/Horses
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… (Summary from Goodreads.com)
Back in June 2012 I reviewed Catching Jordan, the first Hundred Oaks book. While I liked the writing, there were a few plot points I wasn't fond of. But I resolved to try Kenneally again because her books were so well received by a few book bloggers I trust. Also, it was plain dumb to hold a grudge against an author for something I didn't agree with that their character had done. Authors are not their characters. (That is a very long blog post for another day my friends.)
Racing Savannah had me a little wary, not only because of the Kenneally re-try, but the poor girl/ rich boy trope. It can be done well and it can be done not so well. Kenneally did a wonderful job of demonstrating how different Savannah and Jack's lives and expectations were, but it never degraded into "pity me for what I go through." I enjoyed the way they balanced each other out.
Savannah was a great character. Small and scrappy, just how I like 'em. I was proud of how she accepted her family's lack of money, but still did whatever she could to better herself and her situation. It takes some serious guts to go after your dreams when hardly anyone supports it or even believes you can or should achieve them. Savannah's combination of tough personality, emotional caution and vulnerability had me loving her from almost the first page. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED that even though she wanted something so badly, she stood up for herself and refused it when she felt it wasn't right for her. I need more girls who are willing to walk away from something they know isn't going to be good or healthy for them.
I didn't connect as much with Jack as I wanted to. He was nice and I liked all the sweet things he did, like offering to go with Savannah to the school's guidance counselor for college information. But I might have enjoyed him because Savannah did, not for myself. It was a bit strange to discover that disconnect.
The side characters in Racing Savannah were awesome. I loved Rory and Vanessa. They were great, supportive friends and fun to read about. Savannah's dad and step-mom were okay, but again, liked them more because of the effort Savannah went to in order to help them out than the actual characters. Jack's dad took me by surprise in the end. I enjoyed his commitment to his employees and his son. I also adored all the hints at past characters. As someone who'd only read Catching Jordan before Racing Savannah, it was fun to still be in on the old characters featured, but not have them play a huge role in the novel.
Setting obviously played a major part in Racing Savannah and Kenneally did a fantastic job incorporating it into the novel. I wanted a little more detail when at the tracks and races, but that was a small thing. Cedar Hills sounded so beautiful and expansive. I would have liked to see more of it with Savannah and Jack. I can also attest to Kenneally's treatment of the horses after 3 or 4 years being a rider. The horses I rode weren't thoroughbreds by any stretch of the imagination, but they had just as much personality.
Racing Savannah is a great novel with a tough and awesome heroine. Previous fans of Kenneally will enjoy this newest installment in her Hundred Oaks series. I'd encourage readers wanting to dive into the Hundred Oaks series to do so soon! (I already can't wait for Breathe, Annie, Breathe!)They're good and solid contemporaries with some fierce girls and guys. Racing Savannah would be the ideal novel to read in winter if you're craving a little bit of summer warmth to get you through.
Teaser Lines: One time a horseman told me I have a way with horses. Dad told me not to listen when men say things like that, because they're just trying to get into my pants. But I do have a way with horses. Dad, however, does not have a way with words.
*Since this was an e-arc, teaser lines might be changed in the final copy.*