Monday, July 14, 2008

Tilly Bagshawe: Showdown

Showdown: F
Milly Lockwood Groves & Bobby Cameron

The Horse Whisperer and National Velvet meet Jackie Collins behind the barn in this libidinous fly-on-the-stall peek at horse racing and California real estate chicanery, just in time for beach read season. Irresistible Bobby Cameron, 23, and already one of the most skilled horse breakers and trainers in the world, inherits Highwood, his father's 3,000-acre California ranch, but not the money to keep it out of foreclosure.

He takes a job training two horses on a highly regarded racing stud farm in Newmarket, England, where he falls for the farm owner's 17-year-old daughter, Milly Lockwood Groves. Milly is a frustrated rider forced by her family to give up her career after a neck injury, and she's living in the shadow of her neighbor and rival, Rachel Delaney, a sexy and successful pro rider. Milly's dad has a minor stroke and finally agrees to let her return to riding and to train with Bobby at Highwood. While Milly grows closer to her dream of professional riding—and outshining Rachel—na├»ve Bobby takes on a sleazy partner with big bucks and an ulterior motive. (amazon)

A quite unsatisfying read… in that I wanted to throw it against the wall and curse aloud. Oh wait, I did do that. Huh..

There are several things I’d like to say about the novel and I will try my best to do it in a manner that doesn’t give away spoilers and isn’t quite so offensive. I would also add in the fact this story would probably not be classified as a romance. Probably a novel with a love story type thing.

start vent

Bobby is twenty three and Milly is seventeen. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Aw, a story about first loves! Puppy love! How adorable!’ That most definitely is not the case. They’re young and obnoxious, and not in the least bit cute. I’m pretty sure seventeen and twenty-three years olds aren’t the smartest kids on the block, and Milly and Bobby show that very well by being superbly immature. They really do act their age. The rivalry that Milly has with neighboring rider, Rachel is so childish, it’s a little amusing. I’d expect kids in middle school to have grudges against one another as Milly and Rachel do. Oh, and the things they do to blatantly show each other they hate each other… I hope I wasn’t like that in high school.

So, the first quarter of the book is of Milly and Bobby getting acquainted with each other and introduces the reader to the world of horse racing. It also sets the groundwork for some romance. Now you might be thinking, ‘Ooh romance!’ That is also not the case. Milly and Bobby might be loving each other secretly, but they have a really funny way of showing it. Funny as in they refuse to communicate properly and have tons and tons of miscommunications.

“But Alice, 99% of romances are like that!” you might be thinking. I agree, most romances are riddled with conflict and miscommunications. However, it’s not like Showdown, where the miscommunications cause Milly to actually hook-up with another person, spurn Bobby, have their conflict last for a freaking year and a half, and have all of that shown to you in explicit detail. Are ya kidding me? Where’s the happiness? Where’s the love? Where’s the romance? Definitely not here.

Three fourths of the book was of how miserable Milly and Bobby were, not only because of their miscommunications with each other but because of the hardballs life threw at them. As Milly refused Bobby’s advice and went on to further her horse riding career, Bobby feels the repercussions of being a impulsive, rash twenty-three year old attempting to manage his father’s ranch. Milly’s career soars while Bobby’s falls. His ranch is in deep help. And it doesn’t help that Milly’s new boyfriend is the one causing Bobby tons and tons of shit. Milly, of course, is unaware, but then again, she loses herself in the world of anorexic celebrities and of Hollywood. She has great sex with her boyfriend (as does Bobby with other people), and they tell each other that they hate each other, when it’s clear that they don’t.

Realistic, yes, but agonizing to read about.

So this “little” miscommunication goes on for a good three hundred pages. And when Bagshawe has their lives fall apart, it really falls apart. It’s painful to read.

I kept reading thinking that from despair, their love will be born with even stronger fervor and passion and… no, not really.

The ending stays true to a romance in that the hero and heroine end up together. But even to the last ten pages of the book, they’re still riddled with conflict and confusion. It’s in the last three pages (literally, three) of the book that they’re together. And they love each other. (For crying out loud, they don’t even sleep together. That’s how rushed it was).

It was a magical ending, for sure, because somehow, everything came together in the worst of ways. Completely unbelievable and totally absurd. After reading three hundred pages of booze, sleazy sex, backstabbers, and mistakes, the author could have at least made their reunion great. BUT SHE DIDN’T! Agh, it killed me! Three pages? Seriously?!

I will say that it is a book that depicted Hollywood and the “fast life” pretty reasonably (or so reasonable, it seems). Then again, I’m no Britney Spears so I have no clue if people really act in the way they do in the book. All I’m saying is, if I was Milly, I’d feel pretty pissed for not having a proper get-together with my fated beloved. Grr…



Anonymous said...

Seriously, I agree with you.
I abandoned the book half-way.
Definitely searching for a good novel this time. If I would describe the book in one word, that's 'sex'.
Ugh, the book is filled with them.

Anonymous said...

What are you going on about this is the best booke in the world i absolutely loved the innocence of milly. But i hated what Tod Cranborn he has got to be the biggest asshole in the world. I Love the part where milly and bobby eventually get to gether.

Anonymous said...

This book could have been great, but the author just seemed to give up. She sets the situations up well: the bitter conflict between Milly and Rachel; the agonizing unspoken love between Milly and Bobby, which fuels the book. However, irritatingly there are no resolutions.
I was expecting some sort of final showdown between Rachel and Milly, in which the latter gets her own back on the former - but no, the situation is left completely unresolved, Rachel having had the better racing career, greater wealth, and the upper hand in all their arguments. Very poor writing.
Milly and Bobby spend 2 years and 500 pages in turmoil as a result of their separation. They finally come together at the end of the book in what you would expect to be a relentless explosion of passion. Yet, this moment is completely devoid of passion and romance, the measly one or two pages dedicated culminating in a completely unsatisfactory 'let's have kids.' This is THE moment the whole text aims at, and it is completely squandered. It's like a 519 strong firing squad aiming at their man and missing. The reader is left feeling completely robbed, the level of residual frustration almost causing physical pain.