Fifteen years after leaving Columbus to follow her dream of riding dressage for the United States Equestrian Team, Liz has returned with a gold medal, a determination to raise her teenage daughter, and a dream to expand her therapeutic riding practice.Falling in love again isn't in her plan, especially not with Jason Merrick, her first love, the boy whose heart she broke all those years ago. The man with whom she shares more than just a history.Jason Merrick came home a hero.An Army Ranger seriously wounded in the same attack that killed his best friend, Jason sought the familiar comfort of his hometown to recover. Now he's ready to build something rather than destroy. What he wasn't ready for was seeing Liz Randall--the girl who broke his heart fifteen years ago. His growing construction company needs the money remodeling Liz's stables will bring. That's the only reason to take the job...or so he tells himself.The moment they see each other again, feelings that never died come rushing back. Jason knows he'll do anything to have her. But as much as Liz wants to be his, she has a secret. A secret that, once revealed, could make him walk away from her forever.
“Thank you.” Liz Randall smiled as she accepted another of what seemed to be endless parade of enthusiastic congratulations and shook yet another hand while standing next to her horse Tempest’s stall. “Thank you so much.” She could hardly believe that she and Tempest had just, a few hours before, won the individual Olympic gold medal for dressage.
Even better, because of her nearly perfect performance on the magnificent black stallion Tempest, followed by the exemplary efforts of her fellow team members, who had each put in the performances of their lives, the United States Dressage Team had won Team Olympic gold for the very first time in history.
Liz smiled to herself. That her fourteen-year-old daughter Amy and older sister Cindy could be here to see her triumph was the icing on the cake. Liz would never forget the brilliant smile of joy and pride that Amy flashed her after the medal ceremony was over and the riders had returned to the relative privacy of the stabling area. This was truly the best day of her life.
Now, however, Amy and Cindy had returned to their hotel room after it became clear that Amy was running low on energy after an exhausting day. Liz herself was feeling the effects, as the adrenaline high of the day was starting to fade. Finally, there was a small break in the crowd. Liz took the opportunity to take a sip from her water bottle and give Tempest some well-deserved attention.
“How are you holding up, handsome?” she asked as she rubbed his nose affectionately. Tempest snorted his response, nodded his head slightly and then nudged Liz’s shoulder with his muzzle. She laughed. “I know. You love all this attention, but soon, Michael and Jessica will be taking you to Michael’s farm in the UK for an entirely different job — making babies that look just like you so other people will know what it’s like to ride the horse of a lifetime.”
Tempest’s future was set, now all Liz had to do was figure out what she was going to do with the rest of her life. What she did know was that she was done with international competition. The endless travel and living out of a suitcase for a majority of the year had been fun and exciting at first, especially with a horse like Tempest to ride, but now that she was going to be forced to find another horse and start the process all over again, all she felt was tired and depressed. Clear signs that she needed to find another path going forward.
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of someone walking briskly down the barn aisle. She looked up to see her old friend and United States Dressage Federation board member Will Napier striding purposefully in her direction. “Liz, hey, I was hoping I would find you here.”
“Will, what are you still doing here?” She looked over at Tempest. “I was just making sure Tempest was all set for the evening, then I was going to join Cindy and Amy at the hotel.”
Will hesitated for a moment, and Liz could see he was struggling to find the right words to tell her something. Now her curiosity was piqued. Finally, he relaxed and continued. “I understand you aren’t interested in continuing your membership on the U.S. Dressage Team. Am I right?”
Liz looked over at Tempest as if to draw courage, then replied, “Yes. That’s right. Since Jessica and Michael are taking Tempest to the UK to breed, I won’t have a mount. Quite frankly, Will, the thought of starting all over again with a new horse just makes me tired. I would rather go back home.”
Will seemed to sense that Liz was conflicted about that decision. “Do you know what you’re going to do when you get back to Columbus? Any specific plans? I can tell you from experience that it will be difficult to go directly from competing in the Olympics to sitting at home on the front porch in a rocking chair.”
Liz sighed. “I know. The rocking chair sounds good in the short term, but you’re right. I could never do that for more than a week without going crazy.”
Will smiled and Liz suddenly realized she’d been trapped. Damn! Walked right into that. “Actually, I do have an idea of what you can do to stay busy in Columbus and use your talents as a trainer to help the Team.”
Liz looked at him expectantly. “You have my attention. What’s your idea?”
“You’re always telling me that the USDF is focusing too much on the two coasts to find young dressage talent. That the Midwest is rife with excellent dressage riders and horses, and that all they need is good trainers to mold and shape them into international competitors.”
“Yes, that’s right. And I still believe that wholeheartedly.”
“Well, why can’t you be that trainer?”
“What exactly do you mean?”
Will was starting to pick up enthusiasm as his concept developed. “What I see is you offering training to prospective young riders who are interested and talented enough to compete internationally. Advertise your experience and your gold medal, of course, to encourage young talent to seek you out.”
“You want me to scout out local talent and then develop the most promising ones to groom for the U.S. Dressage Team?” Despite her initial reservations, Liz was starting to get excited about the prospect herself.
“Exactly!” Will seemed even more excited now that Liz appeared to be interested in the idea.
Even before the Olympics, Liz’s reputation as a trainer and horsewoman in the Midwest were stellar. Finding new talent should be relatively easy. She reached out her hand to shake Will’s. “It’s a deal.”
Lionel's Leap of
Horses Heal Hearts Book 3
He doesn't know the mob has him in its cross hairsLionel Hayes is shocked to discover a world-class jumper among the abused horses he rehabilitates. Unfortunately, the only man with the talent to ride that horse is not only the man of Lionel's dreams, he has also been recruited by the mob to frame him.One fateful decision in a moment of weakness destroyed Lionel Hayes' life as he knew it and led to the death of his longtime partner and lover. At first, he blamed his friend Michael Stafford for his misfortune and sought revenge, but through his work rehabilitating abused horse, and the trust of one special horse, he realized that he had to take responsibility for his actions, and that he and he alone should take the blame. From that day forward, Lionel vowed to restore his image and resume the career that he loved. In the process, he found the horse of a lifetime, Gideon's Rainbow.Monty Campbell was a rising star on the international show jumping circuit until he lost his horse to injury. Desperate for a replacement mount, and with the support of the British Equestrian Team, he leaned of Gideon's Rainbow and knew this horse was for him. To his surprise, the horse's owner was also a perfect match for him, although the man stubbornly refused to acknowledge it. How could Monty convince Lionel they were meant for each other and would the sinister force that sought to destroy Lionel destroy Monty as well?
Horses Heal Hearts Book 2
Once a hero, always a hero.
After his best friend died in his arms in Afghanistan, Ian Stafford felt broken. Then he's compelled to save a beautiful, compassionate woman from rape at the hands of ruthless thugs, and he realizes his unique skills are needed to ensure her family's phenomenal horse gets the chance to race like the champion he is.Ian Stafford is a former British Special Forces soldier and Afghanistan war veteran who still has nightmares after watching his best friend cut down by a sniper in a remote village in Afghanistan. When he sees a woman in a local pub being harassed and threatened, he intervenes. During the ensuing brawl, the woman escapes, but Ian accidentally stabs one of his attackers who later dies. Ian is charged with manslaughter, and the woman who can exonerate him has disappeared.Megan Brady and her father Daniel never imagined that the thoroughbred colt they raised from birth would grow up to be a contender for the British Triple Crown. Seabiscuit II is the last horse you might imagine as a champion if judged by looks alone. Like his namesake, Seabiscuit II is not much to look at, but has a heart as big as all outdoors, and refuses to be beaten. Unfortunately, the Irish mob has also taken notice, and has approached Megan's brother Stephen with an offer of a bribe to purposely lose the most important race of his career. Stephen refused, and Megan has taken it upon herself to thwart the mob, but their brutal tactics nearly see her raped until Ian steps in to save her. Megan knows she must come out of hiding to exonerate Ian, but knows if she does, the mob will be there too. Meanwhile the date of the big race approaches.Can Megan's example of courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and the will to prevail even when the going looks tough, help Ian come to grips with his grief, and give him the courage to forgive himself and allow himself to live and love again? Will Ian be able to trust Megan with his heart?
Horses Heal Hearts Book 1
A once in a lifetime horse,but only one of them can have him.
For very different reasons, Michael Stafford and Jessica Warren need the right horse to fulfill their dreams to compete in international dressage, and the black stallion Tempest is that horse. When Tempest's owner requires them to compete head to head for Tempest, theydiscover the tension between them is not just about the horse, but about the strong attraction neither of them can deny.
Ever since she can remember, Kimberly Beckett has loved horses. She wore out 4 rocking horses before she was 5 years old, and as she got older, she read every horse story in print, from Black Beauty to My Friend Flicka. It wasn't until she got her first job as an attorney for the federal government, however, that could afford to buy her first horse, and she hasn't been without at least one ever since. She has been riding dressage for several years and has earned her United States Dressage Federation Bronze Medal. When she wasn't reading about horses, she was reading romance novels, and her favorites always involve an alpha male Hero riding a magnificent horse. Kimberly has now found a way to combine her love of horses with her love of romance by writing her own version of equine-facilitated happily ever afters. She truly believes that Horses Heal Hearts. She lives in southwest Ohio, and loves practicing dressage with her own beloved equine.