Horse Gods: The Dressage Rider's Betrayal

The Maryland Equestrian Novel Series (Book 2)

Young Adult - Social Issues
327 Pages
Reviewed on 04/11/2019
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Author Biography

L. R. Trovillion earned a degree in Russian Language and Literature and has found work at various times of her life as a translator, teacher, reporter, editor, groom and stall cleaner. Nowadays, she makes her home in Maryland on a small horse farm, which she shares with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of four-legged creatures who really run the place. The story in her award-winning debut novel, False Gods, continues in the next book of the Maryland Equestrian Novel Series—Horse Gods. Other work has appeared in Baltimore magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various poetry anthologies. When not writing, she’s usually thinking about writing—and as always, is inspired by her equine teachers.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

It’s always difficult to find someone you can really trust. For Regina, she’s lived her entire life in fear: of her mother, a convicted criminal and someone who abused Regina repeatedly, and Wade, her mother’s boyfriend, an abusive creep who flaunts his power as the local veterinarian. It doesn’t pay for Regina to show affection for another person or even for a dog or a horse. They are all taken from her, disappeared, probably killed, but she doesn’t know for sure. Regina enjoyed a brief reprieve from her mother and Wade. While her mother was in prison, Regina’s Aunt Sophia has maintained guardianship, with Regina living with her aunt in Texas far away from the girl’s horrendous past. But Regina’s mother is due to get out of prison, earlier than expected, and Regina is expected to pick up with her mother and Wade where they left off. Regina is older now, but still a minor. She’s frightened, too, and doesn’t know who to trust. People have always lied to her and taken advantage of her. And she’s had enough. But how can she break the endless cycle of terror?

It’s not very often that a novel portrays the sincere ‘wow’ factor. L.R. Trovillion’s young adult novel, Horse Gods: The Dressage Rider’s Betrayal: The Maryland Equestrian Novel Series (Book 2), definitely has this ‘wow’ factor. I was very impressed with this very poignant and powerful story. Written in first person, Regina’s state of affairs comes through very clearly. The reader is instantly attracted to the girl, wanting to be her friend, to help her, to encourage her to tell the whole story and get some help before it’s too late. Trust. Not something that’s easy for anyone to do, but certainly almost an impossibility for someone who has never had reason or opportunity to trust anyone in her life and when she does trust, she loses. The message comes through loud and clear. We do have to take chances in life. We do have to try to trust. We can’t always make it on our own. Regina slowly comes to this realization, but almost too late to save herself. A very powerful story, a solid plot, well written, great descriptive paragraphs and poignant dialogue. I loved it! Wow! Wish I could give it more than 5 stars.

Jack Magnus

Horse Gods: The Dressage Rider's Betrayal: The Maryland Equestrian Novel Series, Book 2 is a young adult social issues/coming of age novel written by L. R. Trovillion. Regina hated the idea of going to the prison where her mother was incarcerated for fraud -- and much worse. Regina had been living with her Aunt Sophie in Texas while Angela, her mother, was in jail. When her aunt broached the trip to Maryland, Regina figured it was just a weekend visit. The news that her mother gleefully announced during their visit sent cold shivers down the sixteen-year-old’s spine. She had thought she would be of age before her mother was released from jail. She just couldn’t grasp the import of her mother’s early release and what it would mean for her. Regina still bore the scars of growing up with Angela; she wasn’t at all sure she would survive this.

This is a magical and compelling novel about a young woman whose life and well-being seem to be in the hands of the worst possible people. While this is the second book in the series, I had no problem getting instantly involved in Regina’s story, and found the book to be impossible to put down. I loved getting to know the horses Regina works with, and her friendship with the young falconer, Declan, is transcendent. Trovillion addresses a crucially important issue in this book -- child abuse, especially at the hands of step-fathers and boyfriends, and Dr. Wade, the veterinarian boyfriend of Regina’s mother, is a particularly chilling and evil example of what’s out there. It also highlights the good work that committed caseworkers like Brenda can do to help kids get through the rough spots.

I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed reading this book. It will resonate particularly well with readers who love horses, raptors and animals in general. If they also enjoy coming of age novels as much as I do, they’ve got a real treat in store for them. Trovillion’s characters are true-to-life and credible; her plot is multi-dimensional and engrossing; and her writing style is assured and smooth. Horse Gods is most highly recommended.

Louanne Piccolo

Desperate to escape the clutches of her abusive mother, show jumper Regina Hamilton is on the lookout for a way to earn a living. While her mother is in prison, Regina stays with her aunt, and with the help of a friend she manages to find work at Twin Elms, a dressage barn. But what seems like a golden opportunity soon reveals itself to be a trap when Regina witnesses one of the other workers in a fight with her mother’s boyfriend, Wade, and then disappears. Regina is faced with a difficult decision. Should she tell the police what she saw? And will Wade and her mother find out and punish her if she does? Regina’s boyfriend Declan and his reclusive father are the only people she can trust, but does Regina know exactly what she’s up against? Horse Gods: The Dressage Rider’s Betrayal by L.R. Trovillion takes a look at the dangerous world people live in when those who should protect them turn against them.

L.R. Trovillion has written a suspenseful young adult novel that will lead you on an exciting, but intriguing ride. The writing style is conversational, the tone dramatic and the characters relatable – just the right combination for a young adult novel. There is nothing I didn’t like in this mystery novel with its strong sense of place and tough, yet endearing main character. Both adults and young adults who enjoy stories of horses and a darn good mystery will find in Horse Gods: The Dressage’s Rider’s Betrayal a book that they cannot put down. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series!