Angie Skelhorn writes with clarity and sensitivity that makes every sentence a delight. Her knowledge of her subject matter is superior and easily understood. I learned a lot about the world of horses from this. The main focus here is love and all its perils and frustrations. The main character Angel develops feelings for the all ready attached Stephen-- it is interesting to watch the drama unfold. I can't recommend this enough for all those who enjoy great sympathetic writing and for all who've stepped delicately into the sometimes forbidding waters of desire.
Reviewer - Writer/Poet Drew Hoffman
She stayed in the tack room on her cot, staring at the images that flashed across the television screen with the sound turned down. Time had slowly passed when the announcer called Stephen’s horse race onto the track. Angel bolted upright, slipped her bare feet into her Nikes, opened the door, and stepped outside. The sky had darkened. A bright, full moon hung in the star speckled sky with not a cloud to be seen. The soft light from the street lamps shone down and lit the dirt road as she hurried along, heading straight for the ten-foot high, white plank wooden fence. She stood and looked between the boards at the horses on the racetrack. Stephen flashed her a smile, jogging by wearing a one-piece quilted nylon race suit with gold and black across his chest, back, and his short sleeves. On his upper arm, he had his initials in black material sewn on a white circle. The yoke had black stars on a gold background. His pants, white with gold and black piping down either leg, matched his stable colors. She thought he looked professional, dressed in his custom suit. He appeared as casual as casual could be on the seat of the sulky, feet in the stirrups, the reins in his hands, positioning his horse behind the starting gate, and then they were off. The announcer called Stephen’s horse, Peesu Peesu on the front. A surge of adrenaline swept through Angel as a clatter of hooves whizzed past her. Angel stood biting her nails, afraid and excited for Stephen. The sulkies and horses were closely packed together, pushing forward. Peesu Peesu led down the straightaway and around the far turn. She looked across the grassy infield as the nine horses raced over the finish line in front of the grandstand. The announcer proclaimed that Stephen had steered Peesu Peesu to a win of one minute and fifty-five seconds. A small van drove by her on the way to the winner’s circle with Marcus beaming in the back seat.
Angel couldn’t have been happier for Stephen. She wanted to run to the paddock to congratulate him, but believing he was all business when he raced, she walked with a skip in her step to his stable. She sat on the tack box and waited for him to return from the test barn.
“What are you doing here?” Marcus asked, leading Peesu Peesu through the entrance.
“Coming,” he said, snapping the horse to the cross ties. He pulled the damp cooler blanket off the horse and tossed on a dry one. He peered at Angel from behind his glasses. “Why are you looking for him?”
“I wanted to congratulate him on his win,” she said, smiling.
Marcus wasn’t impressed. “I do all the work, and you’re going to praise him. Typical.”
Angel was startled. “What?”
Marcus walked into the horse’s stall, brought out the water tub, and placed the container on the ground just outside the barn door. He gawked at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. Squirming on her seat, her joy fell away to shock. Her pulse quickened. Stephen walked into the building with his fingers locked around the fingers of the girl in the picture. Sophie appeared more gorgeous in person, with her dark curly hair flowing down her shoulders and perfect figure. Angel bit her trembling lip, looking at every move the couple made together. Stephen released his hand from Sophie’s. He walked toward her, grinning. “Did you see Peesu Peesu race, Angel? Man, she won for fun.” He put his painted helmet on the tack trunk.
“What? Oh, yeah,” she stammered. “You had an easy time finishing first.”
Sophie glared at her, walking to Stephen. She touched his upper arm. “With you as the reins man, how can one be surprised at the outcome?” she purred.
Angel leaped to her feet. Her knees almost buckled. She crossed the shed row, catching Stephen steal a glance at her. She exited the big sliding doors, passed Marcus cooling down Peesu Peesu, and headed toward her tack room.
She sat on her cot, her head in her hands. Pressing her palms against her forehead, she tried to erase the image of Stephen and Sophie together. “I’m the one you’re supposed to be with. Me! I’m the one! Why can’t you see this?” She spoke in an aggressive whisper.
“Hey, Angel,” a familiar voice called. She looked up to see Stephen standing inside the doorway. He appeared exhausted after a long day’s work, then six hours racing his horse. “Are you okay?” he asked, concerned. “You don’t look good.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired,” she replied, shrugging.
“Did I do something?”
“No, I’m really happy for you. Really.”
Stephen stood for a moment, his eyes fixed on her. “Okay, then. I’m going to slip off my race suit. Sweet dreams,” he said with a wink.
“You, too.” Heat rushed to her cheeks.
Stephen left smiling.
Angel laid her head on the pillow. She couldn’t shake the sight of Sophie. She hadn’t thought there would be a possibility she would come in contact with her, but she had, and now, she couldn’t rid the image from her mind. The time slowly ticked by as she fell into sleep.
You can check out the book trailer and read the first chapter at http://www.angieskelhorn.com/book-trailer-no-reins.html