WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Synopsis: Zach Harrigan is the hellion of the family, the one who never really grew up. He is constantly going out drinking and getting arrested for brawling, including the time he stepped in when a cowboy was picking on a blind man. That was the turning point and Zach decided to train miniature horses as a seeing-eye service animal for those who can’t have a dog. When Mandy Pajeck saw a local news piece on Zach’s tiny horse, Rosebud, she knew that was just what her blind teenage brother needed. Over time Mandy starts to fall for Zach, but growing up in an abusive home made her leery of men. Can Mandy’s brother finally accept his blindness? And can Zach convince Mandy that he would never hurt her?
Author: One of Catherine Anderson’s first memories is of her mother writing stories on a typewriter and reading them aloud to her. Catherine didn’t think becoming an author was feasible so she majored in accounting, but realized she hated it and decided she would try to become a published author. Catherine is now an award-winning, best-selling author of both contemporary and historical novels.
Plot: This story managed to weave together three different plot lines into one. There is the love story between Zach and Mandy, the obstacles they must face together in order to have a life together. There is Luke, Mandy’s blind brother, needing to stop blaming his sister for his blindness and finding his own independence. And finally there is the mystery of Mandy and Luke’s mother, why she disappeared and the possibility that she didn’t leave voluntarily.
Theme: This novel had two main ideas running through the story. One was how to deal with blindness; for yourself, for a loved one, and even for a service animal trainer. The other is facing your fears because when you run from them, you are giving them more power to control your life.
Character: You just can’t help but fall in love with Rosebud. A miniature pony who had been in the circus before being discovered as the perfect service animal. She is a quick learner, a great guide horse, a sucker for treats, and loves being the centre of attention. I would have loved to meet a pony like Rosebud.
Note to Reader: In 2009 horses were banned from being assistance animals in the States. Some people, like Luke, are afraid of dogs and others are allergic which leaves them with not having the option of a guide. Blind people can use canes, but they can be more difficult to use than a service animal. Well-trained mini horses apparently make incredible guides for the sight-impaired provided there are strict regulations about quality training. Think about looking into your own country’s Disabilities Act in regards to service animals and write to the government if you feel it needs to change.
Romance: Zach and Mandy’s growing interest is fraught with complications. Mandy had been abused by her alcoholic father while growing up, and this caused a distrust of men and a fear of liquor. Zach was willing to give up booze and work with Mandy’s trust issues, but she kept trying to avoid anything that scared her rather than dealing with them. It was only the fear of losing Zach that helped Mandy deal with her past so she could not just love Zach, but trust him enough to get married.
Quote: That is not a horse. It’s a dwarf. First thing we know, we’ll have midget horses everywhere. She scarcely comes up to the top of my socks.
The Verdict: Rather than being the light-hearted novel I thought this was going to be, the book dealt with some seriously deep issue. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed it and would recommend that you give it a try.