This book had two things going for it: a plot invested heavily in horses and an educated heroine. Also, she’s “plump.” So three things. Hat tip to you, Katie Rose! Of course after last time I was nervous that maybe that horrific “riding” metaphor that I hate so much would turn up again, but thank goodness it didn’t. (Unless, you know, they were actually riding, in which case it’s not a metaphor. I like that so much better!) Plus there was science and stuff and even though that puts me right to sleep, at least it’s something new and different.
But anyway, it’s about a lady named Mary Lou (which I think is kind of adorable) who is not only a university-educated woman but also an amateur detective! Yes, indeed, the book opens with her “on the case” in a stable, complete with magnifying glass. Oh yes. See, a prize racehorse was stolen and her father bet ALL of their money on that racehorse so she HAS to find out what happened to it and make sure it runs in the big race or else she is RUINED. Needless to say she gets totally caught in the act, magnifying glass and all, by the horse’s owner and the book’s hero, Pierce (I think). She’s ostensibly there to apply for a governess position so she makes up a big lie about losing her earrings and he marches her up to the house to meet his hellion child who tries to scare her with a worm but our girl Mary Lou is a SCIENTIST so instead of being scared she’s all, “oh, blah blah blah, Latin name, blah blah,” and the kid is like ok maybe I won’t torture this one and Pierce (I think) is all, YOU’RE HIRED! So she continues teaching the kid about stuff, and making it gross so he pays attention, while also trying to snoop as much as possible. Apparently the local police are incapable of doing their jobs, who knows. Mary Lou is on the case and all is well! Except she keeps getting caught and has to keep making up stupid lies, like “oh, I’m not snooping, I’m sleepwalking! Where am I?!” and the dude is always like, hmmm I can tell she’s lying but I don’t care, and I’m wondering why it’s such a big damn deal to keep this secret? Why not just say, hey man, I need to find this horse so it can run the race and I can be financially independent and I’ll thank you to stay out of my damn way and let me do my thing? Meanwhile there’s a third storyline running about how they’re JUST SO HOT FOR EACH OTHER. Bow chicka wow wow, if you get what I’m saying. No hot making out yet, but…it’s just a matter of time!
Maybe a long matter of time. Mary Lou and Pierce continue to have sort of dull (to me) interactions, in which they look at one another – or, in one instance, HOLD HANDS – and feel a sort of electricity and want so desperately to bone, but there is no boning, not even kissing. Ughhh. Come ON, guys. Mary Lou is still investigating the stolen horse/murdered trainer and he keeps popping up whenever she’s poking around and she keeps giving him these obviously bogus excuses and he keeps not really believing her but letting her believe that he believes her. Then there’s a really weird scene in which she watches horses breeding and it’s just so…icky. I think the author was going for humor but it was so unbelievable and strange and I felt uncomfortable. Oh, and his ex-mother-in-law (ex ‘cause wifey died, but even if she hadn’t died they might have gotten divorced, so MAYBE HE KILLED HER…dun dun dunnnn!!!…but of course he didn’t kill her, come on) shows up one day and hates Mary Lou and her educational methods (dissection! chemistry sets! star-gazing!), only no one cares what she thinks because she’s such a jerk. And there’s this neighbor, a widow, who seems to be semi-hot for Pierce but he won’t even bone HER. I can’t tell yet if we’re supposed to think she’s awesome or a threat. Anyway, that’s about it. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWNFEST. Oh, and then Mary Lou sets her hair on fire doing Science but who cares. Obviously she’s going to be fine and still hot, so whatever. Unless…maybe they’ll have to bone the fire out?
She burns her hair off, but not much of it, well actually I have no idea how much got burned off because at one point it’s at her shoulders and the next page it’s at her waist and later it’s described as a sort of bob. All of this makes me not care EXCEPT good ol’ Pierce comes to comfort her and she has a big snotty cry on his chest and then they kiss. FINALLY. Of course he immediately pulls away and gets all proper about it, but still. Lip on lip contact! Later she spies on him as he chats with his vet and she doesn’t understand what they’re talking about, but I think his horse isn’t actually stolen, he’s just hidden it somewhere. I should be a detective!!!!!! He catches her spying – again – and somehow that leads to her standing naked in his living room while he tells her how beautiful she is. And then they go to their own beds, alone. UGH YOU TWO. Then it’s time for a field trip! They’re off to Coney Island to eat hot dogs and make googly eyes and watch the horse races. Things are going awesome until she loses his kid (but she finds him, no big deal), and then they go awesome again until he makes her go to a big party and she sneaks off for more spying and he, surprise, catches her (and then the widow who is just a friend but wants to bone him catches them kissing), and then things get even awesomer because they finally do it. FINALLY. Probably other things happened, but I was half asleep and I forgot them all.
Oh! I know! One of Pierce’s horses was in this race but then the jockey fell off and got hurt pretty badly and Pierce was like, “that jockey is a god among men! There’s no way he could have possibly fallen off a horse! Only LOSERS fall off horses! THAT’S A FACT!!!” so everyone assumes he was poisoned. Then Mary Lou wants to test the contents of his flask to prove he was poisoned, but Pierce won’t allow it. Instead he fires her, because it’s getting sooo dangerous. Only later she’s like, I refuse to let you fire me, and he’s like, oh okay. So they go home and she figures out the blacksmith did it (and also they do it) and the guy gets arrested and then Pierce and Mary Lou zip off to Saratoga for the BIG RACE (his horse is missing, but he seems unconcerned, GEE I WONDER WHY) and also some more doin’ it. But first there’s a ball and she finds a pretty dress in her luggage and she thinks it’s a gift from Pierce, but really it’s a dress that his wife owned that his ex-mother-in-law put there because she’s a jerk, so even though Mary Lou looked sooooo pretty he was all mad and frowny all night. Then she overheard him and the jerk-in-law talking about her and it made her sad so she stomped off before the part where he said he wanted to marry her, so later Pierce has to go find her and she’s in the stable with the horse who was supposedly missing but was actually in disguise WHICH I TOTALLY CALLED and then Pierce’s friend bursts in with a gun because he hates Pierce because of all the wife-drama and he (the friend) was totally in love with and givin’ it to the wife but then Pierce shows up and hits him with a hammer and finally reveals the truth about what all went down and admits that he knew all along what she was up to because he had her investigated. Haha! Oh, you! And then he fires her again and she’s like, WTF DUDE and then he’s like, …because I want to marry you! And then she says yes and they live happily ever after and have hundreds of fat babies, the end.
All told, not a bad little novel. Sure, it was slow at times, and the big reveal was pretty obvious, but nobody got abused and the hero wasn’t a total asshat. (Ah, how low my standards have become.) A lot of the horse stuff made me a little crazy – there was so much that was twisted or flat-out wrong – but I guess your average reader wouldn’t know any better. Maybe the editor made her change things and revise biology, who knows.
That said – and I know this will never happen, because once you shack up with a dude nobody cares about your adventures – if Mary Lou showed up in another book, solving mysteries and setting things on fire, I’d read it.