Title: Run for the Roses (Book #1 of Circles)
Author Name: Elizabeth Noble
Publication Date: May 2014 — 164 pages
Wanting to end his pattern of choosing controlling and abusive men, Vladimir ‘Val’ Mihalic figures it’s better to live alone than live in fear. Just when things are settling down—his biggest trouble recently is a Kentucky Derby hopeful that won’t load into a starting gate—his best friend Janelle’s violent ex-boyfriend kidnaps her. After she’s seriously injured in a car wreck, Wyatt Harig, Janelle’s estranged father, comes around to tend to his daughter. Despite Val’s determination to avoid relationships, Wyatt interests him in ways that make his resolve waver. As complications and repercussions pile on in the aftermath of Janelle’s kidnapping—including a gambling charge and a murder—Wyatt and Val must work together to seek answers. And the closer they get to each other, the more Val wants them to stay that way.
In Kentucky’s horse country, murder and intrigue surround the horses, riders and owners preparing for the Derby. IT technician Val and jockey Janelle are best friends working on a horse farm. When Janelle is badly injured, Val and Janelle’s father Wyatt must uncover the truth behind her accident. But Val just can’t help his attraction to the older man…
This is an exciting, whirlwind tour of the horseracing industry. The author has researched the racing world carefully for this suspenseful murder-mystery story. Her Kentucky farmland is an eerily idylic setting for the gruesome goings on. Val’s isolated cottage is way too spooky late at night!
All three characters are well drawn. Val’s relationships with his dogs and his horse were brilliant, Val and Janelle’s relationship was very sweet, and the back stories for all three characters are carefully constructed. This is ultimately Val’s story and he is revealed to us very slowly as the story progresses. I like Wyatt as a character, but I’m not sure I love the inter-generational romance, especially as Janelle is like a sister to Val. I also struggled to believe in Wyatt and Janelle’s relationship.
Ultimately, this is a great suspense story. There are romantic moments, but this is a mystery. The plot is complex and I found myself flipping back through the book to pick up tiny details I missed on the first read. I’d recommend it for horse lovers and suspense readers who enjoy a little bit of m/m romance.
Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming. Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess named Rosie, and two cats, Murphy and Yeti. She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening, winter and summer sports (go Tribe!). When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives. Two of Elizabeth’s books have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards.