Author: Mary Karlik
Series: Hickville High #4
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Indie Published
Print Length: 255 pages
Format: Paperback and Digital
Print ISBN: 978-0-9961556-5-6
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9961556-4-9
Three weeks after her boyfriend of eighteen months dumps her, high school senior and queen bee, Penny Wilson, declares she is over said boyfriend and is ready to move on. But life without her ex is more difficult than repeating a few affirmations. She has been pushed to the very edge of the “popular kids” social ladder. To make matters worse, her dad announces he’s hired boot-clad, Wrangler wearing, calf-roper Ty Jackson to work on their English horse farm. Curly blonde hair and six pack abs aside, he was a rodeo team bottom-runger and no way was she going to let him in her social circle.
And as if having cowboy Ty around is not bad enough, he garners her father’s attention on the first day. Something she has been unable to do since she lost her mother to cancer two years ago.
The “Annie,” a charity horse show named after her mom, is weeks away. Although this show does not count for end of year points, it is the most important show to Penny and one she’s bombed in the stadium jumping portion every year. Ty convinces her he can teach her to connect deeper with her horse and settle her nerves in the show arena. As they work together Penny discovers that while she’s riding better being around Ty does nothing to settle her nerves. Will she discover that there more important things than being in the popular crowd? Will she rekindle a relationship with her dad?
“Dad hired a farm hand to help out with the chores. You’ll never guess who.” The words had barely tumbled from my lips when my view was filled with Wrangler jeans and an oversized belt buckle.
Flashing an aw-shucks grin, said farm hand straddled the bench across from me. “Hey, my dad said you needed a ride home.”
“Uh—yeah.” I wanted to get this little meeting over as quickly as possible. We were the Smart Populars and a vast chasm separated us from the Wranglers—members of the rodeo team. “My dad thought that since you’re going to be working for us, we could ride together.”
“Makes sense.” He drummed his fingers on the metal seat, apparently completely unaware that his time at our table was up.
We all stared at him, but he just kept looking around. One by one we shifted uncomfortably, the way you do when the sermon is too long in church or when you’re waiting for the bell to ring and the teacher is still talking. He didn’t get the hint.
“Is there something else?” I asked.
“No. I’ve just always wondered what the view was like sitting at the beautiful people’s table.”
Determined to not let this snide remark get to me, I rolled my eyes. “Where do you want me to meet you, Ty?”
“Okay, I’ll see you then.”
He stood and shrugged. “Later.”
As he left our table, Holly stared after him, practically drooling. “Did you have to rush him away?”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Have you ever looked at Ty Jackson?”
I nodded to her in a duh kind of way.
“No. I mean since the seventh grade.”
She pushed her curls behind her ears. “Hello, he’s totally hot! Like Dierks Bentley hot.”
“So, he’s got curly blond hair… and I guess his face is nice to look at…”
“I bet his abs are ripped. He’s built like a god.”
“Who wears wrinkled shirts. Besides, Holly, he’s a Wrangler.”
“Yeah, and don’t they fit his butt nice.”
My gaze focused on Ty’s backside as he walked away from our table. “Holly.”
“So he’s a Wrangler. You have horses, you drive a dually.”
“Hello—cowboy equals Bubba,” Emily said, waving a hand.
“Maybe, but I can definitely appreciate him for the fine specimen of one hundred percent drool–worthiness that he is,” Holly shot back.
“You can have him,” I said. “I don’t like cowboys, their big buckles, or their stupid pearl snap shirts. I hate the way they hang around their trucks after school spitting tobacco onto the parking lot.”
Holly sat there all dreamy-eyed, and smiled. “Ty doesn’t dip.”
“Ty doesn’t dip. Look at his pocket—no Skoal ring.”
I tore a hunk off my grilled-cheese sandwich, popped it in my mouth, and focused on his rear. Not a bad sight, but I’d never admit it.
Penny Wilson had just broken up with her high school boyfriend that she had been with for the last year and a half when her dad hires Ty Jackson to help out on their ranch. Penny’s father insists since Ty is coming to the ranch after school that Penny can ride with him which to her might as well be social suicide after being dumped by the popular Josh. To make matters worse, Ty was once a good friend to Penny when they were kids but had ditched Penny while she was dealing with her mother battling cancer and the two haven’t spoken since.
As Penny and Ty begin to spend time together again they find that renewing their friendship at the ranch wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be and the two become closer as Ty helps Penny with her horse jumping. But Penny still doesn’t want her friends to know she is falling for a cowboy, she sees high school as being all cliques and doesn’t want to lose her status with the popular crowd but can Ty open her eyes to just being herself and not living for a group?
Horseplay is a part of the Hickville High series by Mary Karlik but I haven’t read the other books myself and feel this read fine as a standalone. This novella is a cute little YA read with likable characters and a fun setting that seemed to be spot on in the competitive horse world. Of course I am guessing at that because I’m not overly familiar with showing, riding or competing in the tournaments that Penny was in but it was fun reading about the animals just as much as the humans in the story.
The author did a great job giving a bit of a life lesson in this story too with touching on the high school clique world and how Ty teaches Penny that there was more to life than the popular crowd. Couldn’t help but root for not only the relationship to work out in the end but for Penny to learn more about herself with her interactions with the people around her and root her on in the competitions with Maggie.
Overall, well written, sweet YA love story.
I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4/5 stars
Join Mary Karlik and the Killion Group as we celebrate the release of Horseplay with this 16 stop Book Blast from March 21st to 25th. Included in this book blast is exclusive content, a spotlight of the book, and a giveaway. One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
About Mary Karlik:
Following a career as a nursing instructor, award-winning author, Mary Karlik earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. A native Texan, Mary loves horses, dogs, cats, country music, and small town diners. Although she has recently relocated in northern New Mexico, her heart remains in the Lone Star state.
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