THE HORSEMASTER'S DAUGHTER by Susan Wiggs (see her website)
Hunter Calhoun has his fortune tied up in a mad horse, and now he's set to destroy it. When he hears a rumor of a horsemaster who can help even the wildest animal, he decides to take the chance. He finds that the horsemaster is dead, but the horsemaster's daughter tames the animal and his own animal heart. Easy enough, perhaps, but Hunter has other problems--children who fear him and an ante bellum Virginia society which scornes the kind of life half-tamed Eliza Flyte lives.
Eliza Flyte has mourned the loss of her father but has learned the secret. Everything passes. She can give her heart to Hunter even knowing that he will someday reclaim it and rejoin the Virginia society he grew up in, and that his children deserve to share. Still, she comes to love the stallion, Hunter's children, and Hunter most of all. Perhaps love would be enough to allow the two to share a life together, until she discovers the secret her father was hiding--a secret that makes her forever outcast from Hunter's life.
Set in a torn society, THE HORSEMASTER'S DAUGHTER is vintage Wiggs (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by author Susan Wiggs). Wiggs intertwines the themes of bondage, freedom, love, and taming. Eliza's taming of the stallion Finn is echoed in her taming of Hunter and his children. Eliza works to unloose the bindings on Hunter's heart in the same way she works to free runaway slaves in the underground railroad. Although the parallels are obvious, Wigg's writing talent makes them work adding rather than detracting from the novel's power.
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