Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Reviewed by: Don
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Preston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club. Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor. The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.
The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored. Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.
Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans. How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?
Preston and Konrad become fast friends due to a mutual love of the sport of polo. Beaten by his Texan father and coddled his British mother, Pres needs someone to look up to and finds that person in Konrad. Kon takes Pres under his wing calling the feisty ten year old Flea and begins to teach him the basics of polo. The five year age difference makes Flea the perfect age to be Kon’s groom. Kon’s career as a professional polo player takes off and Pres is sent to Eaton, a boarding school in Great Britain but a goodbye kiss seals the two together for life despite their age difference and society’s taboos.
This story was Ms Ashling at the top of her game. I received an advance copy of this book by a friend of the author and fell in love with the comfortable writing style and the complexity of the characters immediately. Ms Ashling has the ability to make her characters three dimensional and so very real. The story opens with Preston as a forty-five year old famous polo player lying in a hospital bed after a polo pony fell on him. He is a cranky, self-centered man who is in a battle of wills with his doctor. He is definitely not a likeable person. A morphine haze flashes Pres back to his youth when he first met Kon an the story runs from there. Not many authors that I have read can pull off an honest feeling flashback story other than Diane Adams with her Making of a Man series but Ms Ashling did it brilliantly. The depth of emotion between Preston and Konrad as they aged pulled at my heart. I could feel the love and the pain the couple felt. Told primarily from Preston’s POV, I soon discovered where he got his open, irascible personality. I think that Kon and Pres make a perfect couple and although circumstances tore them apart, they were both likeable and well developed main characters. As I read this story I could tell that a tremendous amount of research went into both the medical and polo sides of this story not to mention the pony breeding and the history behind it. I enjoyed the comparison between Preston’s life in Great Britain and in Texas and the way the U.S. was looked down upon by the rest of the polo world. The HEA ending was one that brought a tear to my eye. Don’t let the fact that the story has polo as a background turn you off. It is a masterfully written romance story that spans decades. I think the blurb could have been written better as it lead me to think that polo was the heart of the story. I cannot recommend this fascinating feel good story highly enough.