I have seen A BREED APART (Pocket, 1988) very often during my many trips to used bookstores across the land but I always chose to leave the novel behind. Why? Well, it does have a great ‘80s cover art by famed photographer Onofrio Paccione, I’ll admit that, but the subject matter is a little bland for my taste. It’s all about horses; thoroughbred racing, to be precise. I figured if it isn’t written by Jilly Cooper (Google her) the best thing is to keep away, and I did, for many years. Then one late summer during our vacation in Miami I found a copy real cheap. Again I got tempted and, suffice to say, succumbed despite my misgiving. Did I eventually regret the decision of buying it? Keep on reading, people.
First and foremost, I had no idea at the time that A BREED APART was written by Robert Rosenblum, this multitasker fellow whose use of pseudonyms (Joanna Kingsley, Jessica March...) made him hot for a little while in the ‘80s. To me, Jeanne Day Lord was solely a one hit wonder novelist published a year earlier in the UK. It took this blog and the web to finally figure out who she really was.
Since my last Rosenblaum novel, FACES by Joanna Kingsley, failed to impress me, I held on a couple of years before venturing into this one. One night after reviewing many forthcoming books for Net Galley I decided to give this guy another shot. Who knows? I might hit the jackpot after all. Besides, I was in desperate need to read some vintage trash, any vintage trash. People often think that calling a book trashy or sleazy is quite demeaning. But to me, it’s always been the highest of compliments. It means that the work in question is hitting all the right buttons. The more glamorous the novel gets, the more fun I end up having. Sure, the narrative needs to always be on point but put me up with the trouble of the rich and I’m a happy guy.
This Jeanne Day Lord effort, however, failed to get me there, probably because the novel focuses too much on the main character’s long rise as a top vet (300 hundred pages of it) and not enough on her life as a jet-setter. Sure, the author redeems himself in the second-half by getting her right into the swing of things—without ever relinquishing the ABCs of horse breeding and racing—but it all ends up being just a little too late and too much for this reader.
Oh don’t get me wrong. A BREED APART is far from being a bad book. It is actually well-written and the heroine is quite likable. Her story of a child of poverty who makes a name for herself despite the odds is almost gripping at times but in the long run I found it to be quite boring. I’m sure there are plenty of horse lovers out there who will dig it. It just isn’t for me. It’s the second time that a novel penned by Rosemblaum fails to win me over. I cringe into thinking what the rest of his work looks like. Better stay away, I think. On second thought, TREASURES, again by his nom de plume Johanna Kingsley, looks mighty tasty.
Until next post—Martin