Stacy Hoff is my guest today, sharing a bit about her research into the story world of her latest release, Jockeying For You.
When I first thought about setting my newest romance novel in the world of horse racing, I hadn’t known how much of a challenge it would actually be. I was aware that plenty of research would be needed; horse racing was a sport I knew nothing about. I just didn’t realize how much research I would actually need to do.
Being an attorney, I tried to tackle the subject matter academically. I took a trip to my local library. I was amazed there were so few books. The ones they did have were outdated and focused exclusively on betting. A second trip, to a library in a bigger city, yielded only slightly better results. I found that on-line sites were not much help, either.
I had two choices ahead of me—give up my story concept, or head out on some road trips. I chose the latter. I traveled to two racecourses (Belmont Park in Queens, New York, and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York). I also visited the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and signed up for a tour of the Oklahoma Training Track.
These in-person visits fleshed out for me all the information the books had been missing. I learned about life on the track, life behind-the scenes, and what it takes to train thoroughbreds. I was now able to fill in the “holes” in my manuscript; plot points I knew lacked sufficient detail.
I have always learned in a hands-on way. My parents were good enough to take me on several childhood trips to historical sites. As a result, I did real well in my history courses throughout my school years. First-hand experiences are apparently still the direct way to my brain. Seeing horse racing in action is what it took for me to make my story authentic. I’m so glad I went on my travels. After all, if I can’t visualize what I’m writing, how could you visualize it when you read?
I’d love to know how your travels affected you!
Jockeying for You
Jake Carter is on a mission—to prove his family wrong. He may have bought a troubled horse, but he’s hired Ryder Hannon, a “horse whisperer,” to get his horse back on track. She’s more than just a trainer to him, she’s the woman he’s been looking for.
Ryder Hannon, a thoroughbred horse trainer, has a big problem—fighting her fear of racing again. Her emotional scars run deeper than her physical ones. But her romantic feelings towards handsome, uber-rich, stable owner Jake Carter is a bigger problem. Is Jake truly in love with her or is he using her to get back at his smug family?
When Jake’s jockey gets injured, he wants Ryder to race. He knows deep down she wants to live up to her family’s legacy. So why does she keep fighting him—and her destiny—so hard?
Jake felt his eyebrow arch up. “Dr. Doolittle, I presume?”
A slow smile spread across her lips.
“How far have you gotten with Handsome?”
“He’ll let me ride him now.”
Jake’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “My God, Ryder, you’re amazing,” he exclaimed. With a shake of his head and a hard cough he corrected himself. “I mean, your results with him are amazing.”
Ryder’s grin was now Cheshire cat sized. “Thanks for both compliments.”
Damn. She couldn’t let my mistake go.
Then it hit him. His comment was a slip, but was it really a mistake? Her beautiful face, which had been beaming with pride now had a shy aspect that was even more endearing. She bore a schoolgirl’s blush and averted her eyes from him as she busied herself petting Handsome’s nose.
If only she could stroke me the same way. Though somewhere lower down than my nose. He tensed at the thought. Focus, Jake, damn it! This is business. “Show me,” he said.
She blinked. “Show you what?”
“Show me Handsome Dancer can be ridden. I want you to ride him for me.”
“Now? He’s already had his exercise for today. I don’t want to tire him out.”
Handsome’s head batted her shoulder with a determination that was comical.
“You know,” Jake quipped, “if he actually understands you then you really are Dr. Doolittle.”
“I’m sure he just wanted me to give him an apple.” She wiped a stray blond bang from her hot forehead and looked the horse in one of his eyes. “What are you saying, babycakes? That you want to go on a short ride with me?”
Yes, yes, I do. Jake cleared his throat and gave her a tight smile. “Go ahead, you two. Impress me.”
A few minutes later, he was outside the training track, his hands casually resting on the guardrail while he waited for the show to begin.
Soon, Ryder and Handsome entered the track. He heard her cluck her tongue at the horse, and then watched her lightly kick Handsome’s rear. The horse took off around the track in a fast gallop. The horse’s flight was fluid and astoundingly fast for what was supposed to be an easy go-around. She was doing more than merely riding Handsome Dancer. She was a part of him. One cohesive whole.
Thinking the demo was about to end, he had almost turned around to head back when something caught the corner of his eye. It was a flash of color, a fast burst of brown. What the . . . ? Whipping his head around to the source, he stared open-mouthed at the sight. Handsome Dancer was bolting down a stretch of training track at a speed unheard of for a newbie horse. Or maybe any horse. In all of Jake’s experiences, he doubted he had seen a horse move that fast when not performing in an actual race.
Available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2clOJK3
About Stacy Hoff
Stacy Hoff is a contemporary romance author, as well as an attorney. She has practiced law for two decades, primarily handling contracts. Romance novels have always been her secret passion. She writes her romantic stories until the wee hours of the night. Stacy lives in New England with her husband and two boys.
JOCKEYING FOR YOU will be her fourth novel. Her other novels are: DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES (DESIRE series, book 1), DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC (DESIRE series book 2), and LAWFULLY YOURS . Her upcoming series, BUILDING LOVE, will have book 1, BUILDING LOVE IN VEGAS, out soon.
Amazon author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/Stacy-Hoff/e/B00NN0HCW8
Alina here. Thank you Stacy for a great post, and this sounds like a great story!
To answer your question about travel: Yes! Visiting historical sites sparks all kinds of story and blog ideas for me, but the same is true for contemporary experiences! Attending the Del Mar races on opening day last year inspired a round of hat-decorating and a blog post about bonnets. This year, I was able to experience the Kentucky Derby vicariously through my son, who attended as a guest of the winner, Nyquist’s, owner, inspiring another post about this glamorous Athlete of the Year. The Oklahoma Training Track tour sounds like a destination for my go-to list.
How about you readers? Any inspirations from your travels?
All images courtesy of Stacy Hoff