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12 June 2015

Review: 'Stable Mates' by Zara Stoneley (2014)

Welcome to tranquil Tippermere, an idyllic village nestled deep in the Cheshire countryside. Home to lords and ladies, horsemen and farmers, and plenty of secrets and scandals…

Leaving a scumbag ex behind her, Lottie Brinkley has hotfooted it out of Spain and back home to the country in serious need of some flirtatious fun to soothe her aching heart.

Luckily for her she’s spoilt for choice with not one but three eligible bachelors offering a steamy romp in the hay! But faced with the attentions of roguish eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O’Neal, and mysterious newcomer Tom Strachan, how can she possibly choose?

When billionaire landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, his WAGish wife Amanda threatens to sell the heart of the village and sets her sights on Tom! It seems things are heating up for little Tippermere… both in and out of the saddle.

Zara Stoneley's novel 'Stable Mates' was released in August 2014 by Harper Impulse and I remember it being an e-book many book bloggers and readers talked about and gave positive reviews. Not too long ago the sequel to 'Stable Mates', 'Country Affairs', was released and I was lucky enough to be a part of the blog tour for the book (click here to read my review)! The author provided me with a review copy of both novels (thanks so much, Zara!), so I could be introduced to the village of Tippermere and its inhabitants from the very beginning!

The Cheshire village of Tippermere is filled with country manors, ladies and lords, and many horses; and it's the place Charlotte Brinkley, known to her friends and family as Lottie, considers home. After spending some time abroad (which included a now ex-boyfriend who turned out to be married), Lottie is back in town and thoroughly enjoying her casual relationship with handsome Rory, the guy she's had a crush on since she was just a girl. However, Lottie knows she wants more, something real, but is Rory really the guy to give her that? Perhaps she should go for dark Irish guy Mick O'Neal who has come to Tippermere to work, or mysterious model Tom Strachan? Lottie has more to worry about, though, when landowner Marcus suddenly dies, leaving the estate with an unpredictable future...

I have to admit I am personally not a big fan of horses or horseback riding, but that didn't matter one bit with this book, because Zara Stoneley managed to create an overall entertaining and fun read. While horses play a significant role in the novel and the horsing world serves as a backdrop, there's simply so much else going on: beautiful country manors, footballers and their wives, scandal, secrets, enemies, love affairs... There was not a dull moment and as soon as I was immersed in the story I was curious to see how it would all end. Zara Stoneley's writing style is fast-paced, detailed and flows quite easily, which definitely added to the pleasure of reading the book. She also created a wonderful setting with the villages of Tippermere and Kitterly Heath, which I'd love to be able to visit sometime.

The novel starts with a list of characters and I have to admit this was a bit daunting at first. There are a lot of characters and names to remember and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep track of it all while reading. Luckily, this was not the case and the colourful collection of characters really made this story. I particularly warmed to Lottie, Irish guy Mick, and Lottie's grandmother Elizabeth Stanthorphe, who wants to control everything but does so in a great and fun way. Overall, 'Stable Mates' is a fast-paced and fun novel that is packed with a wonderful group of characters and an entertaining storyline. A promising debut by author Zara Stoneley and I am already looking forward to picking up her next work!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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