Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #4
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin – cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.
With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…
First Sentence: Welcome to Hell would be a more appropriate sign, considering Dad just uprooted me from West Virginia and hauled me to Tennessee two days before senior year.
I absolutely loved Miranda Kenneally’s Catching Jordan. I breezed through that book in a day and couldn’t stop thinking about it for at least a week. From that moment on, I automatically knew that Miranda Kenneally’s books would be on my auto to-buy list and that I will read anything written by her. However, the two sequels to Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker and Things I Can’t Forget disappointed me greatly – they lacked the chemistry, the fun, and the rush that Catching Jordan had. When I heard that Miranda Kenneally was writing another book, Racing Savannah, I hoped and hoped that this will finally be the book that will remind me why I loved Miranda Kenneally’s books the first place, but sadly, it didn’t.
My number one problem with Racing Savannah is that a boy or more specifically, the romance, takes over the plot. When I started Racing Savannah, I was expecting to see some romance, but I was also expecting the book to focus on Savannah being a jockey too and facing some discrimination since she’s a girl jockey. You sadly can’t really blame me to expect those two things since it does say that in the summary. What I actually got was the romance taking over the entire plot: I’ll say about 93% of the book (I’ll normally say 90%, but I personally feel that there was way more romance than that in Racing Savannah) focused on the romance and only the romance while 7% of the book focused on Savannah’s family situation and her job as a jockey. I still can’t believe what I read – Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker and Things I Can’t Forget didn’t mainly focus on the romance unlike Racing Savannah; they paid equal attention to the main character’s personal problem(s) and their romance.
I whip around to find Jack standing there in a white T-shirt and faded jeans, barefoot. His hair is still slicked back with gel. I swallow, wishing I could touch his biceps and run my hands across his shirt. He looks yummier than a ranch dressing fountain. (142)
There’s also the factor that I wasn’t sold on Savannah’s and Jack’s romance. In fact, I don’t understand or see why Savannah likes Jack so much that she loses all her common sense when it comes to him. I felt like they had absolutely no chemistry together and most of the time was spent on Savannah thinking of how bouncy good-looking Jack’s curls in his hair was and how well he fit into those pair of jeans…sorry guys, but that does not equal to chemistry for me. Just, no. I need something more than that for me to be sold on the characters’ romance. The other side characters in Racing Savannah had way more chemistry together than Savannah and Jack did. In fact, I rather the book focus on the side characters rather than Savannah and Jack.
As I’ve mentioned above, unlike Catching Jordan which bought up gender discrimination when it comes to job careers and explored that topic, Racing Savannah did none of that. Sure, it mentioned that once or twice, but the book barely brushed the surface of the situation. All Racing Savannah focused on was how rare girl jockeys were and gave us two examples of excellent girl jockeys. They didn’t talk about any of the things the summary hinted at: “She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race” – that because Savannah is a girl, she isn’t allowed to race because she isn’t “tough enough.” No, Savannah isn’t allowed to race in the book because she doesn’t have enough experience, not because “a girl isn’t tough enough to race.”
Savannah also made me want to bang my head against the wall or my table – either one works. You do not want to know how many times I just had to put down the book in frustration because Savannah was losing all her brain cells over a boy. I got so furious at Savannah’s lack of brain cells that I ranted about her silly actions in my note-taking notebook. (I literally have three pages of rants and I write tiny.) I can’t talk about what Savannah did exactly that annoyed me so much because it is kind of a huge spoiler, but I’ll put it in a spoiler tag below because I really have to rant more about this.
[HUGE] SPOILER: So Savannah likes Jack a lot (I still don’t understand why – I get that he’s hot and nice, but so what?) and Jack apparently likes Savannah back too. (I say “apparently” because I’m still not convinced that Jack truly likes Savannah.) Since Jack is a rich guy and Savannah’s family is poor, their families don’t want them to be with one another, especially since Jack has to “date” this rich girl to settle a business deal that his family wanted to make with the rich girl’s family. So while Jack “likes” Savannah (again, the word “likes” is in quotation marks because I’m not sold on their romance), he doesn’t want anyone to know that they are in a relationship and constantly pushes Savannah away after intimate moments like kissing. However, Savannah still stupidly likes Jack even though he doesn’t want to be seen with her in public and doesn’t stand up for her in front of his parents and Savannah ends up having sex with him. (This is the part where I literally freak out and started a two and a half page rant on how dumb Savannah is and how she is so going to regret doing that because any girl with a brain cell will figure out what Jack is trying to do. Just in case you’re wondering, the other half a page of rant is about me questioning why Savannah is attracted to him the first place.) Savannah finds out the hard way that she’s a fool when Jack said, and yes this is his exact words: “I thought you wanted to be together…like, in secret. As friends with benefits” after Savannah had sex with him and gave her virginity to him (218).
The only bright side to Racing Savannah was that we had the chance to see the old Hundred Oaks characters we knew and loved from Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker and Things I Can’t Forget, except that they are all grown up! We get to see a wedding (-wink wink-, I won’t tell you whose wedding because you’ll have to see for yourself), some banter (I won’t tell you between who because again, you’ll have to see for yourself), and some sweet moments. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy reading those scenes as much as I would have like to because I was still fuming mad over Savannah’s choices earlier in the book.
I haven’t been mad over a book for the longest time, but Racing Savannah made me absolutely, boiling mad. Even though Racing Savannah turned me into a raving lunatic, I still have to give it credit for making me feel so much. I’m pretty sure making me so mad that I was thinking of banging my head against the wall isn’t Miranda Kenneally’s goal when she wrote this book though. I’ll admit, I did tear up when I read a part of the book (why did I even tear up for Savannah when it’s her fault for making such awful decisions and having to face the consequences for it?), but I’m a fairly emotional person since I’m a Scorpio and all. How I wish I wasn’t born in November.
Why is it, when something bad happens to you, you can never forget about it no matter how much you want to? (124)
Overall, I’m sad to say that I’m taking Miranda Kenneally off my auto to-buy list. I don’t think I’m too harsh for doing that – while I absolutely loved her debut novel, Catching Jordan, both Stealing Parker and Things I Can’t Forget, and this time, Racing Savannah, disappointed me greatly. Like, every time I think of Racing Savannah, I literally cringe and die a little inside, thinking of what could have been.
Will I recommend this book? No, unless you want to read a book that’s 93% romance and 7% plot, if you can even call it that.