Title: 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.
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.
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.