Taking the Reins
Taking the Reins brings together characters from two of Gaetz’s previous novels, The Golden Rose and Living Freight, whose families are trying to make new lives in pioneer British Columbia. Katherine Harris’s sister is dead, and her father’s farm is failing. She is forced to sell her beloved horse, Nugget, just so they can survive the winter. Emma Curtis is caught in an uneasy relationship with her long-lost father, Tall Joe, who had abandoned her mother for the lure of gold prospecting. Tall Joe buys Nugget for Emma – but she is terrified of horses and has a disability that makes riding difficult. By chance, Katherine meets them and is hired to care for Nugget and persuade Emma to overcome her fears. Thrown together, the girls are forced to confront their prejudices and hidden problems, and find that, surprisingly, solutions for both families are found in working together.
The novel is light reading, but well crafted (Gaetz has experience as a literacy teacher and aims many of her teen novels at struggling readers). Although the protagonists are around fourteen, the content is suitable for middle grades, and I imagine it will appeal to young horse lovers of all ages.