Too Hot to Ride by Andrews and Austin is listed as a contemporary romance, which it is, but it’s also a whole lot more. This novel is much deeper, more nuanced, more layered than your ordinary romance. Those who choose this book thinking they are going to read a typical western romance will be disappointed.
This story has a theme that runs through the entire book, from the first page to the last. The theme is even mentioned in the blurb though you might not notice it right away. There are also lessons to be learned that are based on the theme. The theme is easy. It is simply one word…trust. One lesson is that trust is needed in all relationships, not just romantic ones, though that is a major part of the story. The authors also show, through both human and animal characters what can happen when trust is broken too many times.
Rae, one of the main characters is a prime example of this. She has learned from a very early age not to trust people, from her parents who left her as a child to the ex who cheated on her and left her almost buried in a load of debt. No wonder she is skittish about trusting Jane’s feelings for her. Another example is Howie, one of the mares rescued from the slaughterhouse and brought to Rae’s ranch. She is traumatized from her experiences before we meet her in the story, and is afraid to trust any human being. She lashes out at anyone who comes close. Learning to trust is the most important lesson in this tale for all the characters. Howie’s lack of trust could be deadly since Rae would not be able to keep a dangerous horse on the ranch where children come to learn to ride. Rae’s lack of trust could mean the difference between a life filled with love, passion, and happiness, or a life just existing behind those walls she has built around her heart.
This is a brilliantly written tale that grabbed me by the heartstrings and held me hostage until the final page. It may not be the easiest book to read, since it is does contain a good deal of sadness, heartache and trauma, but it is definitely worth reading for the passion, love, and sweetness of the story.
I would urge all of you, if you can, to read this book, but I must give some trigger warnings as well. This tale has discussions of rape, past and present, for more than one character. There is also discussion of animal cruelty and abuse. You do not see this animal abuse in the book, but you do see some of the effects of it. If either of these things would cause you a lot of distress, then I would suggest you read another of Andrew and Austin’s novels. These ladies are absolute geniuses at writing gripping stories, so don’t miss out. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.