Title: Spirit Of The Dance
Author Name & Publisher: Mardi Alexander (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: December 15th 2015- 288 pages
Major Sorla Reardon, wounded in Iraq, returns home to the family farm in Australia to heal both her body and her soul. She pushes herself to rebuild her family’s legacy while battling the PTSD that threatens to overwhelm her.
Local saddler and horse trainer Riley Johnson knows that to get along in a small town, one simply has to make the best of what life hands out. Riley’s philosophy is to keep life as uncomplicated as possible. And falling in love with Sorla is as complicated as it gets.
As Sorla’s dream is realized, Riley’s predictable, safe world begins to unravel. Secrets are revealed as prejudice and ignorance run wild. Having only ever walked through life alone, Riley must now learn to trust another, as danger dances ever closer.
I have a bit of an issue, I suppose, with the descriptions I was given for this book. This is not exactly what I think of when I hear the terms “western” or “military.” I think, for western, it conjures up tales of the American Wild West, which has nothing to do with this story. And while the characters had been in the military, they were all out by the time this story takes place. It describes some of the issues that the characters are dealing with but not the focus of the story. This book takes place in Australia, in a small town, and the characters are focused on lives that include horses, cattle, and rodeos. And so I suppose that I can’t exactly argue with western, but that description usually would turn me off of a book, so I’m glad I read this one anyway.
The story of Sorla and Riley is a contemporary romance, and the setting influences the dance of how they find each other, and how they come to terms with what being together means for each of them. Both characters have issues from the past that they need to find a way to deal with in order to be able to open themselves up to the other person. The best part of this, is that their issues aren’t simply miraculously solved by the end of the book, and each of them isn’t somehow the solution to the other’s issues. No, the issues are on-going, but by the end of the book, each of them feels better about facing their issues with the other by their side.
I’ll also say a little about why I simply had to give this book a 5 star rating. There is an extremely tense scene that happens in this book. Not only was I unable to put the book down until I read all the way through it, but I actually got myself in trouble by my reactions to getting interrupted what seemed like endlessly while I was voraciously trying to find out what happened. My emotions were all over the place while reading; it was intense, gripping, sickening, horrifying, and a lot of other reactions that I really had to get a grip on after. Any book that can grip me that hard and not let go, I have to applaud. Wow.
Although that particular scene probably wasn’t exactly something that engendered a lot of positive feelings, the rest of the book made up for it. I liked the dance between Sorla and Riley, as each made overtures, then tried to back away, only to find the feelings wouldn’t let them go. I’d definitely recommend this book to anybody who’s looking for a good story to sink into.