TWO 4 Star and ONE 3.5 Star Review for Staying the Distance by Franci McMahon #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Staying the Distance
Author Name & Publisher: Franci McMahon (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: May 17, 2016 – 200 pgs


Rachel Duncan, a Montana rancher, has led a self-sufficient life and kept her complications of the heart to a minimum. She is as tough as her horses and believes nothing can stop her from winning the one-hundred-mile in one day horse race, the Tevis Cup. She has a horse who can do the job, the Arabian mare, Kestrel. The element of the team she isn’t so sure of is her new veterinarian, Dr. Margaret Carson. Margaret proves herself to the reluctant Rachel, broadening her vistas to discover a tender side, one capable of loving and being loved.

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This was an enjoyable read. The two main characters were both likable. An original setting for a gentle love story.
I liked the way Rachel slowly found herself and who she was through experiencing and learning from those around her and the trials and tribulations she had to face while competing in the long distance race.
I also learned a some interesting facts about horse breeds and some fascinating information on Indian culture.
I did feel that the story line did at times fluctuate between being a love story and at times a history lesson and an equine handbook. On some occasions I also felt there was lack of dialogue between the two women and that some of the lesser characters, like the reporter could have added more to excitement and dynamics to the plot. Personally I would have enjoyed hearing more about the women’s growing relationship what was happening between them.
But it was a good read and Ms McMahon is obviously a proficient writer.
Rachel and Margaret were interesting ladies to get to know. The story pulled me in immediately and I was intrigued by Rachel. I enjoyed watching the budding romance. And I especially like the addition of Kate; she was a great supporting character.

However I lost interest in the larger story in the middle of all of the details. It was great to have the landscape and the locations described in such great detail. I loved that the author was so knowledgeable about horses; as someone that knows a great deal about horses, I hate when an author doesn’t do their homework. McMahon’s descriptions and knowledge of horses is to be commended. My issue was the large and flowery descriptions that weren’t needed in many areas of the book. It caused a lag in the flow of the book and pulled my attention from the overall story because I expected something more from the more flowery parts of the book.

All-in-all I enjoyed the book and loved meeting all the ladies that helped Rachel through the Trevis Cup.


I wasn’t sure I liked this book at first. Things seemed to move fairly easily for the two mains, Rachel and Margaret. They’re drawn to each other from the start, even though Margaret is trying to protect her heart, and Rachel doesn’t even realize she’s gay.  Despite both of these things, the two move inexorably closer to each other. After an initial struggle, Rachel seems to accept her own homosexuality and attraction to Margaret. Margaret doesn’t even struggle; she seems to feel that Rachel is special and any relationship with her would be deep and inevitable. They get together so early in the story that I was left wondering what could possibly happen next. Then the big event, the Tevis Cup, begins. Here is where the story seems to come alive, not just because of the obstacles and dangers in the competition itself, but also because we finally see just what it is that Rachel really has to accept in order to become a partner to Margaret. It has to do with her father and what his words created in Rachel. Margaret sees it before Rachel does, on one of the holds during the race. And Rachel’s struggle to not only see what Margaret does, but also overcome it, is what this story is really about. The physical struggle of the race is a subplot, but it cements everybody’s feelings about each other and what they’re doing, and at the end is a small group of powerful women who have bonded together. I absolutely love the last half of the book. Definitely a good read.



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Franci McMahon mines her years of riding and breeding horses to write novels of suspense for even those unlucky enough to be born without the horse gene. Rounding out her life as a writer, she has a previous novel, many works in anthologies, stories for children and adults in national magazines, a poetry prize, and an enriching stay at Hedgebrook. Beyond horses, Franci’s life is filled with classical music, cooking, knitting, reading complex novels with a story, dancing close to a warm woman, and sitting in silence, often at Quaker meeting. These are some of her deepest pleasures. She divides her time between Montana and Tucson, Arizona.

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Filed under 3.5 Stars, 4 Star, Amy P, Chris, F/F, New Release, Review, Tori

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