An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.
Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail—Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.
I really enjoy reading novels where the two main characters get married because of convenience. I love watching them fall in love in the context of marriage. I connected a lot with Maggie because of all she had lost. She and I both grew up with four brothers and although I haven’t lost all four of my brothers like she did, one of my brothers died last August, so I can feel along with the pain of losing a brother. The whole book pulled at my heart strings, from the death of loved ones, the racist society responsible for lynchings, the possibility of losing the family farm, and the relationship between Maggie and Cullen. Because of the time period this book was written in and the culture of that time, there are some words that may offend some people but I thought they brought authenticity to the setting, without going overboard.