With Keeping Secrets, the first book in her Timber Ridge Riders series, Maggie Dana had me hooked. Though the series is meant for "tweens"--kids 9-13--I found it a great read. In fact, I immediately ordered the second book on Kindle, Racing Into Trouble, and have since read my way through all nine books in the series.
And now I'm begging Maggie Dana for more, just as her young readers are. I'm giving the books as Christmas gifts-- and anytime gifts--to every parent I know with a horse-crazy daughter.
Why? Because Maggie Dana gets everything right. Her knowledge of horses, riding and competing is spot on. Her plots are well-crafted and entertaining, so that the books are, quite literally, page-turners. The subtle "life lessons"--how to be a good, honest human being and trustworthy friend as well as how to be a good horsewoman--are bonuses any parent will love.
Dana's books immerse young readers in exciting plots that revolve around Kate; her best friend Holly; Holly's mother, Liz, who manages Timber Ridge and coaches the riders; Angela, a spoiled, jealous boarder who has it in for Kate and Holly; and Angela's decidedly evil mother, who pushes her daughter to win at any cost.
You adults may say this sounds formulaic--poor girl and her friend vs rich girl and whatever insipid followers she attracts. I can only say that in the Timber Ridge Riders series, the formula works and readers are too caught up in the action to notice--or care. And, I might ask, how often in your life have you encountered the same scenario? Just when things are going well for you, there's always a jerk trying to foul things up. Hmmm?
In Keeping Secrets, Kate has a pretty heavy secret to bear. A valuable horse is dead and she's to blame. She's banned from the stable where she used to ride and has sworn off horses when she accepts a job as companion to Holly, who's in a wheelchair after the car accident that killed her father. However, Kate is forced to spend some time at Timber Ridge Stables because that's where Liz works and where Holly's horse, Magician, is stabled.
BTW, Kate's mother is dead and her father is off in Brazil studying butterflies, so she was staying with her aunt before taking the job as a live-in companion to Holly.
A lot of things change by the end of the book, but I'll leave you to find out for yourself. Happy reading.
Keeping Secrets is available on Amazon. The 176-page paperback is $7.19;? the Kindle edition is $2.99. It's also available at Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Check out the information on Maggie and her books at www.maggiedana.com (there's someting here for you adult readers) and www.timberridgeriders.com.
About Maggie Dana
Maggie Dana's first riding lesson, at the age of five, was less than wonderful. In fact, she hated it so much, she didn't try again for another three years. But all it took was the right instructor and the right horse and she was hooked for life.
Her new riding stable was slap bang in the middle of Pinewood Studios, home of England's movie industry. So while learning to groom horses, clean tack and muck stalls, Maggie also got to see the stars in action. Some even spoke to her.
Born and raised near London, Maggie now makes her home on the Connecticut shoreline where she divides her time between hanging out with the family's horses and writing her next book in the Timber Ridge Riders series.