Chance Meeting, Laura Moore's second book, has a strong romance, but a slow start, too much detailed description, and an abrupt ending keep it an average read. Still, if you are willing to have patience, Ty and Steve's story may catch your attention.
Ty Stannard is fourteen the first time she sees Steve Sheppard. He is a twenty-three-year-old champion in the equestrian world and Ty has collected magazine articles and pictures of him for several years. Ty participates in the amateur events and idolizes Steve's skills and his charms. Her bold friend, Lizzie, convinces her to slip away from her bodyguard and approach Steve. He is kind to the shy, gawky teenager, recognizing her crush on him. He even gives her a silver medallion that his father had given him for good luck. Before he learns who she is, her bodyguard finds her and hustles both girls away.
Ten years later, Ty is an accomplished businesswoman who has broken ties with her controlling, tyrannical father. She hears through the equestrian gossip circuit that Steve's beloved Southwind, his horse training facility in the Hamptons, is about to go under because of a scandal involving mismanaged accounts, drugs, and the death of a championship horse. She cannot believe that Steve is involved in any of this. She also knows that her father will jump at the chance to turn the 38-acre lot with a beach into a development of ostentatious houses. With encouragement for Lizzie, she devises a plan to rescue Steve.
Steve does not remember Ty and is very suspicious of her motives. His problems at Southwind were caused by his partner's involvement with members of the decadent jet set and at first, he thinks she is just another rich woman looking for a plaything. His counter proposal to her is that she has to live at Southwind and help. That she agrees completely surprises him and he spends a bit of time trying to get her to give up. It doesn't take long before he realizes that Ty is not anything like the rich women he has previously encountered and that the two of them are attracted to each other.
It is not hard to be sympathetic towards Ty. After her mother died, her father spent his time becoming a very successful and rich real estate developer. He gives her little attention except to make sure that she is doing exactly what is expected. He keeps her away from most people because he doesn't believe that many people are good enough to associate with the Stannards. Her classmates at the private girls' school are rich, but not nearly as rich as she, so all but Lizzie ignore her. The only adult in her life who gives her any attention is Sam, her bodyguard. He does as much as he can to help ease her lonely life, but Mr. Stannard expects everything to go his way. When she finally stands up to her father, she shows that she has learned his clever, steel-spined tactics, but that she uses them to help people she cares for, rather than for idle profits.
Steve is from a supportive, loving family, but the horror of almost losing everything makes him bitter. Luckily, it doesn't take long for Ty's quiet but determined help and support to have him back to his old self. I truly enjoyed the developing romance between them. They did not spend a lot of time vacillating back and forth and even an incident that I thought was going to cause a "Big Misunderstanding" did not. They argued quickly and cleared the air.
My problems with the book began with the background information that took 80 pages at the beginning of the book. It jumps from 1989, with the medallion scene, to 1991 for more background, until finally it arrives at the present time and the romance begins. While the information was important, some of the details could have been conveyed with fewer words. The descriptions of the equestrian events could also have been condensed. The author definitely knows the field, but even with my limited knowledge of the sport, I could have figured out what was happening with a lot less said.
Finally, the threat from Ty’s father to derail her efforts to help Steve were resolved so close to the end that I did not get to enjoy the results. I like to savor these moments and am always happy to see an epilogue. Even a few more pages would have helped.
Despite everything, once I passed the background info at the beginning, I zoomed through the scenes between Ty and Steve. I could believe that they would truly become a happy couple.
--B. Kathy Leitle