RELEASE DATE: 28th July 2016
BLURB: Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.
Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.
As though sensing Rich’s intense perusal, Jake shifted with a stifled groan as he tried to move and was pulled up short by unexpected pain. Repressing an urge to poke Jake with his cane like some grumpy old man, Rich decided that as Jake’s coach, he had every right to approach the bed. He leaned down so he could speak without startling Jake into moving suddenly.
“Hey,” he said quietly. “Go slow, and stop if you feel any sharp pain.” He stretched out his hand to touch Jake but thought better of it mid-action. His hand flapped awkwardly like a bird trying to decide where to land, and he withdrew it abruptly.
“Did someone get the number of the bus that hit me?” Jake grunted as he inched himself up in stages onto his elbows, and Rich tried not to think about how similar it sounded to the noises Jake had made during sex. Too similar. That was a memory he’d have to shake from his head now.
Jake hissed when he put his right elbow down, and he turned within the covers, winding them around him in a tangle as he rolled onto his back to avoid putting more weight on his arm.
“It was the 4:10 from Kryptonite,” Rich said. “Nonstop express.”
When Jake rolled over, Rich retreated to a safer distance. No matter what he did, he had to maintain some degree of propriety, even if that meant not acting completely naturally around Jake for now. In another lifetime, he would have sat on the bed until he made sure Jake was okay and could shift himself without help. Now it was too much like fondling an open bottle of whiskey when he’d sworn off all hard liquor.
Jake chuckled and then winced as he tried to sit up. He let himself fall back to the bed. “You’re going to have to go on without me. See that the mail gets through. Warn the sheriff. Tell Annabelle….” His message to “Annabelle” went undelivered. Jake covered his eyes with one hand, while letting the other fall dramatically to his chest.
His lightly furred chest. The one Rich wanted to lean down and map every inch of with his lips, committing the taste of skin, the firmness of muscle, and the scent of him to memory once more.
“If you can joke about your imminent demise in the desert, then you can’t be as bad as all that.” Rich’s voice was crisp. How like Jake not to have the slightest inkling how very tempting he was, sprawled out on the bed like some sort of centerfold model. “Pizza’s on the table. I’m headed to the drink machine for some soda. Want anything?”
When he didn’t answer, Rich glanced back. The light of amusement had gone out of Jake’s eyes, leaving them with that bleak, feral-cat expression Rich knew all too well. The one that said he didn’t expect anyone to fill his empty dish anyway and that was fine by him. Rich held his ground, his hand on the doorknob. He wouldn’t give in. He couldn’t. This was what was best for both of them.
“Nothing for me, thanks.” Jake made to sit up, pulling back the covers to free himself from the bedclothes.
Remembering Jake’s naked state, Rich ducked his head and hurried out the door.
Hello! Welcome to the launch of “Gareth’s Corner” – Three Books Over the Rainbow’s latest review project. As the Special Guest Reviewer of this ongoing slice of the crème de la crème of our genre, I wanted to bring you something a tad bit unique to the world of m/m review. However what would set Gareth’s Corner apart from the overworked but talented reviewers we rely upon to point us to the fresh new releases from the gifted and inspirational authors of m/m romance????
Then it hit me as a newbie author to romantic fiction – I first had to define myself. Luckily, my husband did it for me when he introduced me as “Gareth Owens – Never mundane … but sometimes insane!” Fast-forward a few more days …Then I defined the nature of my reviews. They would be a new look at “already released” works. It’s not like I am digging in the trashcan for discarded books. On the contrary, given the immense tidal wave of new releases and the limited number of available reviewers, Gareth’s Corner is here to catch a few gems that may have unfortunately fallen through the cracks or to reawaken the interest in a few of our favorites from yesteryear. But that’s enough preamble for now. Our format will become aware to everyone as we go along.
I chose my first review based not only on the fact that this is one of my favorite authors but because of the timing of the book’s release. The book is Fool’s Gold by fellow southerner, Sarah Madison.
Set it present day Virginia, the book uses the anxiety-ridden backdrop of two gay men working together to join the US Olympic Equestrian team in the upcoming Olympic games in Rio. Sarah weaves a stunning portrayal of the anxiety and never-ceasing practice that goes into becoming a contender for the Gold. The unrequited love between the two male main characters demonstrates that ‘true love’ is seldom pre-packaged perfection. We see how the love between Jack and Rich evolves along with the skill of horse and rider. While taking the complexity of these dynamics and highlighting them together without one overshadowing the other is no easy feat. However, this Olympian skill is unique to Sarah Madison’s style of writing.
Although there was a lot of “horse jargon” used liberally throughout the piece, the jargon of unrequited love is one that is the sweetest to the ears … and heart. Fool’s Gold is a comfortable and compelling read. The fierce determination of the human spirit coupled with the need for love is the driving force behind this “gold medal winner”. I would have given it Four and a half stars …. But in this particular case that is the equivalent to one GOLD medal here in Gareth’s Corner.
But – enough of me … It’s time for our big surprise ……. Folks, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the Best seller Author of Fool’s Gold, Miss Sarah Madison!
Sarah: *walks in grinning before giving Gareth a huge hug*
Gareth: OMG! She wore it! I begged her too … and she did!
Sarah: Hey Gareth … You like my old red hat don’t you?
Gareth: What’s not to love … It is what people know you by! It is awesome. May I wear it for the rest of the show?
Sarah: After a review like the one you just gave me … I should buy you one. BTW I love what you did with your living room! Is this a new coffee table?
Gareth: Yes it is! Funny little story to go with that. You know that Three books over… is overseen by an Italian group of m/m romance aficionados?
Sarah: Yes, I did.
Gareth: Well, I begged Francesca and Frederica for money to give our studios a new look. I sent them pics of what I had in mind.
Sarah: They must have said okay?
Gareth: They told me that they would only “OK” something like Three Million! I nearly fainted. Then Fed said, BTW that’s three million Lira.
Sarah: I don’t get it?
Gareth: Don’t worry. Neither did Scott. Just have a seat on the sofa. Right next to Hattie.
Oh good gracious! In my excitement to talk about your book I forgot to mention my beautiful co-hostess here in Gareth’s Corner … Folks, this is Miss Hattie. She will be here in the Corner with me on an ongoing basis … or else she’ll chew up my shoes or something equally devious.
Sarah: Hello, Miss Hattie. You look more beautiful than your daddy described. Those FB pictures don’t do you justice.
Hattie: *wags tail*
Gareth: Uh, Sarah? Leave the dog alone for a minute … Tell us your inspiration to write Fool’s Gold?
Sarah: Well, Gareth you know I am an animal lover – particularly horses … and dogs. I am also a Dressage Eventing competitor.
Gareth: Those are two words that you often use in the book. Share with us what they mean.
Sarah: Dressage is a French word, most commonly translated to mean “training”. Dressage is a highly skilled form of riding performed in exhibition and competition. It is the highest expression of training where horse and rider are expected to perform a series of predetermined movements from memory.
Gareth: Sounds very different from throwing a beat up saddle on the back of my Uncle Earl’s old mare when I was a kid.
Sarah: Riding for pleasure’s sake is fun too!
Gareth: So what is “Eventing”?
Sarah: Some people refer to eventing as the “Triathlon of horse sports” because it combines dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping. It requires the horse and rider to be able to perform acts of great control and refinement – while also having the stamina to gallop a 3-4 mile course with as many as 30 different jumping elements.
Gareth: I watched the dressage events from Rio. Did you?
Sarah: Yes I did!
Gareth: What would you like to share with potential readers of Fool’s Gold?
Sarah: In addition to being a tale of lost loves and second chances, it is also about the incredible bond between rider and horse. It’s a love letter to horses so-to-speak. However, there is the drama that Jake and Rich have to deal with.
Gareth: Which is?
Sarah: The rift created between them and the healing from both physical and emotional injuries.
Gareth: The book is definitely not chocked full of the drama of door-slamming, squealing tires and gunfire.
Sarah: (Cuddling Miss Hattie) No, it isn’t. It is a story about complex adult characters who are flawed but trying hard to be the persons they’d like to be. It’s a romance story where the problems aren’t easy to overcome but the characters are giving it their best shot.
Gareth: THAT is what I think most of our readers want in a romance story: Struggle towards growth. That’s what Hattie and I like anyway. Right, Hats?
Hattie: *blinks eyes*
Gareth: Current Amazon stats bear you out at about 400ish. Not bad … is this intended to be a stand-alone or become a series?
Sarah: Probably a stand-alone. It ends in just the right place – a spot that is satisfying and hopeful for the future of Jake and Rich.
Gareth: I completely agree on that score. Do you have any WIP you would care share with us?
Sarah: I am currently working on one in which an unhappy, uptight accountant inherits his grandmother’s training stable – but with strings attached. He must live at the ranch and work it himself for six months or else the stable will revert to his grandmother’s right-hand-man (a former soldier with a chip on his soldier and a magical way with horses). I hope to have that one out by next spring. The working title is Ghost of a Chance.
Gareth: Cool! (Interrupted by incoming text message)
Sarah: Is something wrong?
Gareth: No, not at all. That was from Scott he wants to know if you will allow the two of us to treat you to dinner tonight. Whaddaya say?
Sarah: Well … Can Miss Hattie come too?
Gareth: Unfortunately not. Scott and Hattie had “words” this morning. And as usual, Miss Hattie won the argument. Well, this put Scott in a snit. Now they’re not speaking. You don’t out-argue a lawyer. It simply isn’t done in polite society.
Sarah: I guess Miss Hattie didn’t get that memo.
Gareth: Honey, it is a handful to run interference between my husband and my dog.
Sarah: So, I am finally gonna meet the elusive Scott?
Gareth: Yes. And you will be only the third of my Facebook friends to do so. But you’ll love him. He’s like Matlock meets GQ.
Gareth: Folks, that’s about it for the first episode of Gareth’s Corner! I want to thank the lovely and talented Sarah Madison. Play it smart …. Buy Fool’s Gold ! My friend Reagan can’t put it down … Join us next time when the lovely Miss Hattie and I bring you another recently released winner!
Hattie and I would enjoy hearing from you. We hope to get your feedback on this review format – find us at Gareth Owens on Facebook…
Until next time – Big hugs from Sarah, Miss Hattie and myself!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sarah Madison is a writer with a little dog, a large dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. An amateur photographer and a former competitor in the horse sport known as eventing, when she’s not out hiking with the dogs or down at the stables, she’s at the laptop working on her next story. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.
Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013 and 2015 Rainbow Awards. The Boys of Summer won Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The Sixth Sense series was voted 2nd place in the 2014 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Mystery series, and 3rd place in the 2105 PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series.
If you want to make her day, e-mail her and tell you how much you like her stories.
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sarah-Madison-Author/106445646104338