A young man is on the edge and is about to jump off of a bridge when someone encourages him to change his mind. Just why did this man want to end it all, and what caused him to be at the end of his rope?
Punch McMinn is the farm manager of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm and saw this young man while on his way into Rosemont to pick up blocks for the broodmare shed. Punch is a great character with a solid background for wanting to always help others and an important person for the West family. Convincing Eric West, the prime owner to hire this young man came with some strings that involved Punch make sure that he worked and that he was honest. But, something does not ring true and Eric is about to come to the end of his rope when certain incidents and information comes to light.
Kate West is a veteran assistant and the girlfriend of Holden Reese. Strong-willed, smart, beautiful yet at times insecure Kate has been working with Dr. Ben Spears for quite some time. But, enter in Ava West, her brother’s ex-wife and the sparks fly, the competition soars and the queen of manipulation, Ava manages to create more than just a degree of doubt in Kate’s mind about Holden.
Ava is Holden’s vet assistant and cannot imagine why he actually treats her as an assistant and nothing more. But, things start to heat up when we learn more about Holden’s hidden secret, mistakes he made in the past and the one man who seems to be holding all the cards and pulling his strings. Just when you think you have heard it all wait until you learn more about Chip Walker and his connection not only to Holden but also to the mysterious young man who appeared out of nowhere and is now part of the West extended family.
Kate is self -assured in many ways but her observations and what she thinks she sees clouds her vision, her perspective and sends her mind to imagine the worst. Reeling, seething and really believing what she sees and not hears, she observes Holden coming to Ava’s defense every time she encounters Chip Walker and deals with his inappropriate remarks and advances.
Ava has her own agenda when it comes to men even though she is seeing a police detective it does not deter her from trying her hand at getting Holden away from Kate and learning more about why he is so pensive and angry at times. There are so many layers to the plot within this book as all of the characters find themselves more than just against the ropes and in situations that will endanger the West Family and themselves. Faced with a situation or plight that is difficult and hard to break away from some try to fight back and wind up in a tight spot before freeing themselves.
Getting to know this young man some might become endeared to Eugene while others quite leery. At times he appears to be clumsy and at other times quite helpful around the farm. But, wherever he is trouble seems to follow. Even trying to help Kate apply a salve to the leg of one of the horses caused him to not only fall on top of her but also the salve covering him, Kate and horse from head to toe. The description of this incident was hilarious. The end result Kate was concerned about her new jeans. At times she has no sense of humor. But, Eugene’s troubles did not stop there as a horse got lose and they had to search for him and his knocked over some boards causing Shane to lose his iPod. But, some might say things distract him or others might say he is a klutz with things on his mind and a secret he does not want to get out.
Nothing is what is seems and the truth about Holden comes out as both Doc and Ava listen in on a conversation that tells it all. But, will they tell the police or will they inform Kate and her family? Added in we learn more about Eugene as he decides to attend the annual dance that Dan Quaide puts on every year. But, as Punch and Eugene make their way to the dance there are two others hoping to take them both down. Zoe Miller has been the object of Punch’s affection but from afar. From two different worlds, he feels that they would not be the right blend or mix and he keeps putting her off even though she really cares for him. But, when leaving the dance with Eugene, Zoe’s life is in danger we learn to what lengths Punch will go to make sure that she is safe. The pieces of the puzzle come into place and the truth about Eugene revealed as two lives are on the line, someone just might be sacrificed as Mike, Lieutenant Carl Lugowski, and several others race the clock, deal with a terrible storm hoping to stop whatever has been put in motion.
As Zoe is forced to accompany Eugene others fight to make sure that she survives. When someone hurts you deeply is it right to hurt them back? Would revealing Ava’s lies and betrayals to Carl really make things better or just hurt him more?
What did Doc Spears and Ava find out that brings in naval Seal Jack Haliday. An ending you won’t see coming and the final win over the finish line yet to come. What will Kate decide to do? What about the three men after Eugene? What will happen when the truth about Holden and Chip Walker is revealed? Just what are they doing that would hurt not only the racing profession but many others too? Author Cindy McDonald brings to light many issues within this multi-layered novel as we wonder whether helping others is right or letting people in trouble find their own way? Honesty among friends or deceit to protect those you care about! Betrayals, lies, deceits, caring, underhanded manipulations and a final warning within the last two pages of the novel will not only bring chills down your spine but let you know that there are more that will find themselves Against the Ropes and fighting for safety before all is said and done.
Once again author Cindy McDonald creates a plot with so many subplots that the reader wants to know and find out the answers to: What about Punch and Zoe? What happens to Eugene? What was his real motive for allowing Punch to help him? What about Ava? Just how innocent is she in all that has happened and is about to happen in the next novel titled for now Shady Deals. Surprise endings are one thing but this one will get the reader wondering just what is the next step for many of the characters and will the three that attacked Eugene at the farm be arrested or let go? The connections run deep and the energy runs high as the thunder and lightning electrify the sky and light up an ending with so many twists and turns that only this author could deliver. Let’s not forget Sheldon and Charlatan my two favorite horses and characters who often set the tone for some of the hilarious events that take place within this five gold horseshoe novel.