Ivy, Aug 2002, 6.99
At a Virginia horse auction, A.J. Sutherland buys four-year-old thoroughbred Sabbath for thirty thousand dollars though the steed has a nasty reputation and her stepbrother, the family finance expert Peter Conrad, objected. Following her instincts, A.J. pays with her own personal money. When she returns to Sutherland Stables, Peter informs her that he sold the horse. An upset A.J. blithely says he cannot sell what the stable does not own and leaves with her horse though she has no place for Sabbath to stay.
A desperate A.J. travels to the nearby home of Devlin McCloud to beg the once golden boy of horse jumping to allow her steed to stay in his stable. Devlin still uses a cane from the injury he suffered last year that led to the euthanasia killing of his beloved horse Mercy. He wants nothing to do with A.J. or Sabbath, but would never allow an animal to suffer because of human stupidity. Soon he finds himself training horse and woman. As A.J. and Devlin fall in love, both fear commitment with a human.
Though readers will wonder how the father of A.J. could allow the cruelty of not stabling Sabbath for at least a night, fans will appreciate this warm contemporary romance. The story line is exciting as Devlin and A.J. leap from love even though the dangerous matchmaking skills of the key third character Sabbath pushes them together. LEAPING HEARTS combines a good horse jumping competition with a strong romance into a fine debut by newcomer Jessica Bird.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner