Showdown is the second book by Tilly Bagshawe, and follows very firmly in the footsteps laid down by such bonkbuster greats as Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins. The book is filled with larger than life caricatures of jockeys, investors and cowboys.
It centres around the character of Milly, a young wannabee jockey who is taken under the wing of cowboy Bobby - he takes her to his ranch Highwood in California to train her as a quarter horse jockey, while he tries to turn around the fortunes of his ranch.
As is usual with books of this nature, it is quite clear that Bobby and Milly are destined to be together, but this book took its own sweet time getting them there. Leaving it to the very last page seemed to be dragging it out a little too long - especially when some of the barriers to their relationship were clearly shoehorned in to drag out the 'tension' (such as Zac, the barrister).
You could argue that none of the characters are remotely realistic and the events are far-fetched, but the very existence of this book is about pure escapism and the happy-ever-after ending. I enjoyed it for this, and for the fact that a number of the characters were warm and lovable - Amy, Dylan and Sean amongst them.
It was unfortunate that the two main characters were so easily disliked! Bobby was arrogant and impossibly ignorant for most of the book. Milly was naive and frustratingly unaware of the consequences of her actions.
The feud with Rachel was a major part of the novel, but it was hard to ascertain exactly WHY these two girls hated each other enough to sabotage careers and hurt lives over it.
I also found Bagshawe's habit of 'telling, not showing' very tiring. As each character was introduced, we had to have a snippet of back story and their motivations heavily laid out in a quick info dump, rather than allowing these to be revealed carefully through the course of the book.
With all this said, I would not object to reading more of this author's work - ideal fodder for a beach holiday!
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