Rupert and Jake are rival show jumpers from very different backgrounds; this is the story of their rise to competing in the Olympics Jake is the son of a gypsy, and has grown up in an orphanage. He works at a riding stable where he meets Tory. She has some money, and after a night out buys Jake a horse to help him on the road to show jumping glory. They get married, and receive an inheritance from Tory's grandmother to get them started in a small yard of their own, where he cares for the horses with old gypsy knowledge and Tory selflessly looks after him.
Rupert is a stereotypical rich boy, great sportsman and already on his way to show jumping stardom. He meets Helen at a fox hunting meet, she is protesting against hunting but is captivated by him. It isn't until they get married that Helen starts to find out about Rupert's playboy lifestyle which is at odds with her puritan upbringing in America. Helen is a scholar at heart and Rupert is often jealous of the time she spends with the intelligent and cultured team manager, Malise
Jake was bullied mercilessly by Rupert at the expensive school they attended; Jake's mother worked in the kitchen so he got a free scholarship, and these school years are the basis for his hatred of Rupert, which is backed up by the cruel way Rupert treats his horses. As Jake acquires horses cheap and brings them on he begins to come up against Rupert on the circuit, before being struck by disaster when his favorite horse and great hope for the Olympics dies.
Rupert goes from strength to strength on the circuit, although one horse, Macaulay, refuses to be broken by Rupert's cruel methods, and is eventually shipped off to the Middle East. Jake rescues him and brings him back to health.
Rupert's marriage to Helen is falling apart, she has difficulty with his decadent lifestyle and philandering with grooms and show jumping groupies. Jake notices her at the various show jumping meetings and feels the need to rescue her from Rupert's cruel treatment, as he has with horses in the past. They become friendly and begin an affair, despite Jake's loving and supportive wife at home. Jake gets carried away, and sends Helen a spotted scarf, the gypsy way to propose….
Things come to a head at the Olympics, Jake and Rupert are both on the team and argue nonstop. Rupert finds out about the affair between Helen and Jake and the guilty pair flee from his wrath. The reserve rider competes in Jake's place, but then Rupert has a fall and dislocates his shoulder and it looks like the team's chances are over but he rides with an injured shoulder and saves the day.
Meanwhile Jake is miserable with Helen, missing Tory and regretting his defection. He hears that Tory has taken a deadly poison, and rushes to her bedside, eventually managing to save her.
Helen ends up happy with Malise, a scholarly man with whom she has lots in common, and Rupert ends up single and free to pursue whoever he likes so everyone is ultimately happy.
Best part of story, including ending:
I love all of the characters of the various animals in the book, they really come alive on the page
Best scene in story:
I love the scene where Rupert encounters Macauley, the horse he has mistreated, after jake has nursed him back to full strength. Rupert really gets his just desserts!
Opinion about the main character:
I like Rupert's sense of humour, even though he is nasty throughout the book he comes good in the end.