In The Reins
Paperback, 295 pages
Published December 10th 2015 by Carly Kade Creative
Genres: Romance, Cowgirls, New Adult, Contemporary Romance
McKennon Kelly. McKennon Kelly. McKennon Kelly.
Cowboy McKennon Kelly was the last thing Devon Brooke wanted to focus on after finding herself suddenly single. Looking for a fresh start to life, city girl and journalist Devon just wanted to go back to her country roots and focus on building a relationship with her newly acquired equine partner Faith.
Devon finds companionship in handsome bull riding ranch hand JD and delicate Green Briar horse farm owner Sophia, both who advise Devon to keep her distance from McKennon and “mind her p’s and q’s” around the quiet and eerily peaceful stables. Devon thinks it shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid the Adonis cowboy, but after noticing his skills and expert ways with training horses, she figures it couldn’t hurt to get to know him a little bit … right?
Devon follows the guarded cowboy to a horse show, where she is unprepared to learn she may not be the cowgirl she thought she was. After a near-tragic incident, Devon begins to realize that the more time she spends with McKennon, the less she really knows about him (or horses, for that matter), and his mystery just keeps getting bigger. Who is he really, what is it that everyone doesn’t want her to know, and why is this tight-shirted, spur-jingling, weather-eyed cowboy all she can think about now?
Interested in hearing more about In The Reins? Check out the book trailer! It’s sure to set your spurs to jingling! Let us know what you think in the comments!
** I received this book for free in a giveaway. This did not influence my review at all. **
I’m not even sure where to start with this fabulously awesome book. If you are anything like me, you enjoy fast paced stories, handsome cowboys, contemporary romances, and of course, horses upon horses! In The Reins offers that and so much more within it’s wonderful pages. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down, having the need to learn more about Devon’s journey with her horse, Faith and the mysterious, enigmatic cowboy McKennon.
In The Reins brings us the story of Devon, a journalistic city girl wanting to return to her country roots for a fresh start complete with a horse of her own. She ends up purchasing a young paint mare and moves to Green Briar, a quiet, private horse farm with an eclectic group of individuals. She quickly becomes friends with Sophia and JD, but McKennon, the mysteriously handsome cowboy, keeps evading her grasp. She can’t help but notice that McKennon has a way with horses so it wouldn’t hurt to get his help and direction, right? Devon ends up spending more and more time with McKennon when she is a part of a dangerous accident. This only serves to confuse her more of the mysterious cowboy and the resulting adventure is worth the read.
Upon reading In The Reins, I found well developed characters, superbly written details about the scenery, and a story line that kept moving and kept me entertained. Devon was a great female character with strengths and weaknesses that any reader would be able to relate to. She had her ups and downs throughout the story, but persevered through them to come out on top. Her strong character complements McKennon’s, as well as the rest of the supporting characters. I enjoyed that Devon’s actions and experiences were real and I found myself laughing, as well as cringing, when she would find herself in situations. Carly did a fabulous job at creating characters that drew me in to the story and had me stuck on the ride. My only complaint is that the book ended! I wasn’t ready for Devon and McKennon’s story to end and I was ready to hear more about Devon and Faith’s journey to the show pen.
Overall, In The Reins was a delightful journey in the world of western pleasure, horses, and handsome cowboys. The terminology was spot on, the characters believable, and the story was a winner. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series and finding out where Carly takes McKennon and Devon’s story. I’m excited to hear more about their journeys into the horse show world and how their friendship progresses.
I gave it 5 out of 5 horseshoes!
We’re also lucky enough to have an author interview with the one and only Carly Kade! I am so excited that we have this opportunity for you readers to have a chance to get to know this amazing author! So, without further ado, here is our interview!
Questions about our author
How long have you been an author?
I’ve been drawn to creative writing for as long as I can remember. I think the possibility of being a published author started for me in elementary school when a teacher nominated one of my short stories for a writing award. This recognition led me to attend a conference for young authors. It was a defining moment in my childhood which inspired me to seek out creative writing classes all through high school and in college.
In the beginning, I always thought of myself as a poet. I have journals and journals of poems. I never really seriously considered publishing a novel though until McKennon Kelly came to me (like lightning) in the form of a poem. I vividly remember the day I furiously scrawled him in my journal. I didn’t want to miss a thing, a thought, a moment of his inception. Thank heaven that I always keep a journal with me. That poem ended up being the intro to the book. This story begged me to tell it. Reflecting on the process today, it feels as if In The Reins just flowed out of me. And now, here it is – a story that demanded to be shared, through me, for readers.
What is your involvement with horses?
I am happiest when I am in the saddle. The real truth is it’s always been there … this love of horses … for as long as I can remember.
I can easily recall spending my childhood days lying on the floor surrounded by crayons and colored pencils writing about (and drawing) my four-legged pals over and over again. I had them all – every My Little Pony, all the Breyer Horses. I never wanted to play with the dolls. I only wanted their loyal equine friends. I graduated from horse toys to the real thing when I was seven and started riding lessons.
I’ve been lucky enough to own horses most of my life. Missy was my first horse and the best life coach a young woman could ever ask for. Missy was my mount (not to mention my teacher, my partner, my best friend) through my adolescent years. On Missy, I was crowned my county’s 4-H Horse Queen and we won the coveted Palomino Western Pleasure class at the World’s Largest All Breed Youth Show.
Sissy is my adult horse and the one I always dreamed of owning. She is a registered Paint mare and I am happily showing her regularly in Arizona. If you’ve taken a tour of my website or followed me on my Carly Kade Creative Facebook page, you’ll notice Sissy also stands in as Faith in my promotional videos for In The Reins. I do all the marketing for the book myself so it helps to have my own horse to stand in as I film the footage!
Ironically, I didn’t give either horse their barn names (Missy and Sissy). I like to think there’s something about the similarity that implies these two horses were meant just for me … I will own horses until I take my last breath. I love them that much. Horses give me peace. There is nothing more peaceful to me than the quiet bond between a woman and her horse.
When reading, do you prefer eBooks or physical copies?
I still prefer holding a physical book in my hands. I like the way a book looks after I’ve lived with it for a while. I earmark the pages. I write in the columns. I underline passages. My current book comes with me everywhere. I’ll take what I’m reading on business trips, vacations, anywhere that might require a wait. I especially like to take books to my bathtub (smile). My books earn their place on my book shelves. I run my fingers over their broken in bindings and re-read my favorite parts of each of them from time to time. I stare at a screen all day for work (and for my writing) so reading the pages of a physical book provides a nice break from technology too.
What book are you currently reading?
I am currently reading The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I put a call out on my social media channels for a new horse read and this book was highly recommended so I gave it a whirl. I am a voracious horse book reader so I am surprised I’d never heard of it until about a month ago. I absolutely love it. There is a quiet beauty to the way she’s written it. It has made me smile and cry and want to read more. All the things I want in a good book and all the things I try to include in mine.
What advice can you give to aspiring writers?
It takes commitment to make the time to write but you must make the time! You have to create the space so the words can show up. I recommend setting a goal like writing for 60 minutes uninterrupted or not stopping until you’ve reached a thousand words. I often wonder if I’ll have anything to say when I sit down to my writing sessions but then I JUST DO IT and the words magically come. If I had one piece of advice to offer writers on getting a book written I would have to steal a page from Nike’s playbook and say “Just Do It!” then be kind to yourself about writing… just start … that’s all you have to do (and don’t share it with anyone until you’re finished with the first draft).
Questions about In The Reins
What was the most difficult part about writing In The Reins?
This first novel took years to write because I wasn’t seriously considering publishing it. I shelved the book several times and didn’t work on it for long stretches because of self-doubt or thinking I was too busy but the story kept calling me. I’d been dancing through life for years with these characters in my head.
Finally, I had to just sit down and write so I could get their story down. I am so glad I stuck to it too. I wrote this book for all readers like me … horse crazy, book crazy, cowboy crazy. I am so happy to hear that they are really enjoying the book. My biggest wish was to make others happy and help them escape reality for a while with my words.
There were many highs and lows in the process, insecurities and doubts, but mustering the courage to continually move forward is what makes me most proud. I am happy to report that the sequel is coming swiftly!
What made you decide to pursue writing books of this type?
Before I am a writer, I am a reader. Beverly Cleary once said, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.” I think I’ve read everything in existence about horses, cowboys and romance. However, I couldn’t find a horse book series written about the western pleasure discipline. I wanted to read a love story themed around the type of horse shows I like to compete in.
Also, I know what it’s like to feel like I’m falling for the leading man (whose image lived in my imagination) as I turned the pages of a really good book. Generating that kind of feeling was the goal for me – what I wanted to create for the readers of my story (and for myself as I wrote it).
How did you get the idea for the cover of the book?
I knew that In The Reins had to have a horse on the cover because I wrote it for horse lovers like me. I’ll pick up anything with a horse on it (especially a book).
I looked through hundreds of images to find the one that ended up on the front of the book. I worked with a design team to create the cover and I think what we came up with perfectly depicts Devon’s struggle in the book … wanting to go forward but pulling back at the same time.
It was important to me to not intrude on my reader’s imaginations so I made sure that the horse and rider on the front were silhouetted. I want the characters from In The Reins to live in the imaginations of readers so I’ve been careful through the whole marketing process to not intrude on how the characters might live in reader’s minds.
Where do you feel you get the most writing done?
I definitely get the most writing done in my home office during my morning writing sessions. I am so not a morning person but it seems like my morning routine is when my creativity is most alive. I just do it!
Also, I love writing inflight on airplanes. I make the most of airplane tray tables and the times when I am trapped in the air. These times are when I can maintain uninterrupted focus for several hours. Give me earphones, my Mac, a little elbow room (maybe a plastic cup of wine) and you’ll get thousands of words!
No matter where I am I love to listen to music when I write … all kinds of music … what I listen to depends on my mood. Some days it’s classical, sometimes it’s a movie soundtrack, other days it’s jazz or classic rock, and a lot of the time it is country.
Saving the best question for last … LOL
Who was your inspiration for McKennon Kelly?
McKennon Kelly comes from the part of me that is in love with love. While the literary perceptions and insights in the book are based on experience (as in all fiction), McKennon Kelly and In The Reins are products of my imagination.
As I turned my words into a man, I took the best from the ones I once knew (and those I still know), the ones I’ve read about in my favorite books, all the ones I’ve imagined, and mixed those qualities with all the things I wish men could be then sprinkled in a little of what I imagined a cowboy who can make the eight on the back of a raging bull would be like … so the long and the short of it is that no single person inspired his character.
McKennon is the best little pieces of everything and everyone I’ve experienced in life. My heart was a flutter as I created him. I am proud of McKennon Kelly. I hope he sparks a smile across readers’ lips as they turn the pages of In The Reins. He certainly makes me smile as I continue to write his story.
Carly Kade is an Arizona-based author who writes romance novels based in modern cowgirl culture for readers who love horses, cowboys and an engaging romance. In her free time, Carly enjoys competitively showing her registered Paint, works on her next novel, reads voraciously, spends time with her husband and two adopted dogs, and loves exploring the great outdoors.
Thank you so much for coming along with us on the ride! I appreciate you taking the time to get to know more about Carly Kade and her fabulous book, In The Reins! I hope you enjoyed the interview and spent some time checking out Carly’s social media and have added In The Reins to your Goodreads! I definitely enjoyed my journey!