Engrossed in promoting my equestrian thriller, escaping to read about another horse world was strange and yet satisfying. This is my review:
The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon
by Linda Ballou (Goodreads Author)
Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, are about to capture the World Cup when a nasty fall dashes their chances. While she is mending, her arch rival seizes this opportunity to catch a ride on Marshal, and to seduce her young husband. Confused and dazed by her new circumstances, Gemcie heads for the high Sierras hoping the majestic spires that captured the heart of the father she never met will provide the answers she seeks. She finds strength and solace riding solo on the John Muir Trail, but a bear attack ends her time of introspection and places her in the care of a solitary cowboy manning a fire lookout. Brady, who seems to love animals more than people, shows her love and gives her the courage to get back in the saddle. Haunted by images of Marshal being abused by his owners, Gemcie returns to rescue him and fly high with him once more. Ballou’s prose gallops ahead at breakneck speed as she takes you along on this wild ride.
From the opening hook, Linda Ballou’s The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon paints a rich picture of not just the show jumping world that Gemcie had earned her place in through hard work and dedication. The accident that dashes the ambitions of Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, leads to other events that unravel her life, create new sub plots and take Gemcie into another world dominated by the high Sierras and a different style of riding – western.
The language continues to evoke images and sensations, whether in the actions or the descriptions. We meet new characters, including horses, and, in the mountains, we meet Brady. His portrayal triggers questions for Gemcie and, for this reader, but the challenge is a crucial peak in the novel, handled well. She might baulk at the challenges in the high Sierras, at first, but she is drawn on as the reader is by the plotlines.
However, although I liked how the story unfolded and the descriptive richness, two elements threw me from my ride-read. In Ballou’s defence, these are style issues, I suspect. First, I had problems with the transitions in scenes that changed from one paragraph to another – I am used to a scene break. The other area was Point of View – POVs. At first, I thought the story was head-hopping too much from one character to another then back. But I began to sense that this was ‘limited omniscient POV’ which I am less familiar with, but I accepted it and read on absorbed by the story.
Through the author’s extensive expertise, the novel resonates with accuracy, from descriptions of the wilderness to the various riding elements. Ballou works even vaulting into Gemcie’s recovery, as well as trekking and jumping, and in the ‘author’s note,’ we discover why this feels so right.
Ballou also neatly weaves the various characters and themes into the satisfying ending. Most of the characters feed into the climax as does the power of love and nature. The natural world is described with words that unleash all the senses, and this reader kept nodding at the importance of respecting nature as Brady does – a respect that Gemcie learns, marking her growth.
A satisfying and enjoyable read that I recommend. I await the sequel hinted at in the author’s final comments.
Story – five stars
Setting/World-building – five stars
Structure – five stars
Readability – five stars
Editing – five stars
Style – four ½ stars