Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Review: Kiss and Tell

By Gail Allison

Tash and Hugo Beauchamp are three-day eventing’s golden couple. “The Beauchampions”, as they are called, are renowned for their riding skill and their stellar ability to bring out a horse’s full potential. But understanding horses and understanding people are two very different skills. Ever since her fall, Tash has been terrified of getting back on the literal horse. Hugo can’t understand why anyone would be scared of riding, and is slowly withdrawing into himself. When she checks his phone, Tash finds incriminating texts from “V”, which just drives a deeper wedge into their marriage. Will the Beauchampions reign again or be driven apart by the very sport that brought them together?

Meanwhile, Faith Brakespear is in love with Rory. Rory is in love with liquor and is in lust with any woman who crosses his path. Beccy is pretending to be Tash while texting the hunky New Zealand show jumper Lough Strachan (who just happens to be Hugo’s mortal enemy, but may be coming to train at his yard). Lemon is Lough’s groom, who arrives at the yard much before his rider, befriending (and maybe more) Faith and Beccy. Sylva Frost is famous for being famous, and is looking for more of the same. Will becoming a horse owner of a champion three-day eventer be the key to what she wants, or will she need to continue baiting the tabloids with weight fluctuations and throwaway romances to stay where she wants to be in the glossies?

Once again, Fiona Walker has crafted a tale of romances gone awry, husbands and wives misbehaving, and (of course) a few happy endings set against the background of three-day-eventing. Kiss and Tell is the third book in a set of three, but can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel. Her style is similar to Jilly Cooper (probably why I love her books so much), but with notably less bedroom action. This book is also chock-full of “Britishisms” – word play and punnery that is so prevalent in UK novels. If you enjoy this kind of book, I’d recommend starting with French Relations, moving on to Well Groomed, and then finishing up the trifecta with Kiss and Tell. Be warned though: these novels are not for the faint of heart. Although they’re fun and fluffy and really a rollicking good time, they’re also enormous. Kiss and Tell clocked in at 881 pages…paperback. Well Groomed is the shortest of the three books, and it’s almost 700 pages in paperback. If you were looking for a reason to purchase an e-reader, I’d say these books are one of the best reasons you’ll find.

Ms Walker does a great job in each of these novels explaining the intricacies of three-day eventing. She keeps the explanations light and interesting, never getting bogged down in technicalities and details. You come away from these books feeling like you have a basic understanding of the sport without ever really trying to learn anything. She also develops her characters very convincingly. We’ve all seen celebutantes like Sylva Frost in the tabloids. You’re never sure what they’re famous for, but somehow every move they make is headline news. We can all relate to Faith’s agony over her feelings towards Rory, and every little change she makes to herself trying to catch his eye. And we can all understand a small miscommunication that ends up snowballing into a massive misunderstanding. These real-life situations are absolutely one of the hallmarks of Ms Walker’s writing. I truly can’t get enough of her books, and I hope like crazy there’s a fourth installment in the works.

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