REVIEWED BY KIRSTY NICOLE POLE
There are only two words that could sum up how I felt when I heard about the release of Jo Carnegie’s fifth novel ‘Horseplay’…outrageously excited! As a reader of the first four novels set in the fictional Cotswold village of Churchminster, I couldn’t wait to devour her latest offering and find out what had happened to the characters I had grown to love so much. Knowing I was in for drama, hilarity and knicker-pinging leading men, I wandered back into the village I loved ...and barely left for 24 hours!
For anybody who hasn’t read Jo Carnegie’s novels before (where have you been these last few years?!) they are a rip-roaring journey through the small fictional village of Churchminster and the characters who live there, exploring their personal lives, relationships and the tangle of village life. With each book we get to rediscover the characters that we’ve come to know so well at different points in their lives.
With ‘Horseplay’ all of our favourite characters are there, Jed and Camilla, Brenda Briggs and good old Granny Clem. This time we also meet stunning wannabe Horse racer Kizzy Milton, and with her comes the devilishly handsome and hopelessly wounded Javier Hamilton-Scott, an Olympic dressage rider who has a dark past and needs a little TLC…something the women of the village are more than happy to help with!
Kizzy has a dream to become an Olympic horse racer, and by working for Angie and Freddie Fox-Titt and looking after ‘Nobby’ their racehorse, Kizzy has been able to pursue her dream. That is until she is involved in an accident that brings Javier into her world and everything changes. Caro and Benedict are back in Churchminster with their two children, happy and settled…until Sebastian, Caro’s manipulative Ex-Husband, arrives in the village to drop a bombshell no-one expected and Caro’s sultry, hyperactive sister Calypso is back too, entertaining the village with her stunning looks and no-nonsense attitude!
I became absorbed in the stories of these characters and I’m surprised I even noticed what day or time it was. I was so gripped by the twists, turns and steamy scenes (who knew such things went on in the countryside!) and I was reminded again why I love Jo Carnegie’s writing so much. She manages to effortlessly balance the lives of the characters we’ve met before with the introduction of new ones such as Kizzy and Javier. Her detailed description of the village itself is mystical and charming and the connections that she makes between the characters are flawless, even when characters from the previous novels are absent we still remember them and feel like they are part of the book.
Don’t be worried if you haven’t read the previous novels in the Churchminster series, the book does make sense as a standalone and would be just as enjoyable, however reading the series from the beginning would be totally worth it, the first novel is ‘Country Pursuits’.
When I came to the last few page turns I got that rare feeling of wanting to know what happens but not wanting it to end! Closing the cover on Churchminster, I smiled, prayed for another in the series and wished for only one thing… That the amazing bum on the front cover was my own!