Title: THE BROKEN ROAD
Category/Genre: Adult – Women’s Fiction
Word count: 107,000
Is your antagonist hot or cold?
My antagonist isn’t a person, so I’ll describe the weather. My novel begins during fall in Iowa, the oaks and maples painted in vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. The second half of the novel takes place during winter in the ranchlands of Wyoming. The ranch is cradled in a snowy valley, protected by the foothills and Medicine Bow forest.
Thirty-four-year-old Dana Cooper is one of the best horse trainers in the country until an accident leaves her paralyzed. Now she spends her days in physical rehabilitation, angry at the world, at her family who avoids her, and at her boyfriend who left her. What’s the point of rehab when she’ll never walk again, never train another horse? The only thing she wants is to save her horse, who was also injured in the accident. When she meets Matt Ross, a veterinarian and friend of a fellow rehab patient, Dana’s wish becomes a reality.
Although Matt appears confident and cocky on the outside, his life is unraveling. His divorce and separation from his two sons are bad enough. Now he feels responsible for the accident that leaves his best friend, Renn, paralyzed. When Renn introduces Matt to Dana and asks him to save her horse, Matt only agrees out of guilt. After meeting the bitter horse trainer, Matt wonders if he’s made a mistake. But as he gets to know Dana, he catches glimpses of a different woman beneath her anger.
Dana tries to fight her growing attraction to Matt, scared to open her heart, certain that love is another thing she’ll never have again after her accident. But Matt’s the first person who gets her back on a horse, showing her she can still ride, and she’s impressed by the bond he develops with her horse. When Dana’s family abandons her after she’s released from rehab, she feels like her life is over. So when Matt asks her to go to Wyoming because his granddad is gravely ill, she takes a chance and says yes. As they come together in the vast and wild ranchlands of Wyoming, they’ll both have to choose between hanging on to the past or forging a new present together.
THE BROKEN ROAD is an epic novel that can best be described as Me Before You meets The Horse Whisperer. I have direct experience with the physical and emotional impact of spinal cord injuries. My teenage daughter has paraplegia as the result of a broken back.
First 250 words:
Dana was about to prove them all wrong. The thought made her smile to herself as she walked down the long aisle of the horse barn, the fall leaves crunching beneath her boots. A gust of wind stirred the leaves, sending a chill through her, making her zip up her fleece coat.
She stopped halfway down the aisle and stood outside of the stall, peering at the bay horse inside. He looked back at her with his wary brown eyes, with a hint of distrust she wasn’t sure would ever disappear.
“You ready for this?” she asked him, reaching for the handle. As soon as the latch clicked, he jumped back, spooked by the sound.
“Easy,” she said in a calm voice. “Easy, Wild Man.”
She stepped into the stall and reached for Wild’s halter, getting a firm grip on it in case he lurched forward. His nostrils flared, expelling a breath of air so strong, it blew Dana’s strawberry blonde hair away from her face. “You’re fine,” she said, giving his neck several firm pats, trying to loosen him up, hoping he’d absorb her confidence.
She secured him in the crossties and took her time grooming him, talking to him, letting the motion of the curry comb and the brushes sooth his quivering muscles.
Dana didn’t normally get overly attached to the horses she trained, but there was something different about Wild. No one else noticed him at the sale barn, but underneath his wild eyes and trembling body, she saw a champion.