Tilly Bagshawe,
(Hachette, 2006)

Author Tilly Bagshawe's second novel, Showdown, is very similar to her first, Adored, in that the main characters hail from both the U.S. and the U.K. The difference this time around is that some of the characters in Showdown are actually likable! The writing style has stayed the same. The narrator for the audiobook version is still Sonya Walger. The plot and the way the book will end are easy to figure out early on, just like the first book. Still, I find myself liking this second novel just that much more than the first.

Instead of Hollywood, Tilly tackles horses this go around. From the U.S. we have Bobby Cameron. He is an old-school cowboy who inherits his father's ranch, Highwood, in the Santa Ynez Valley in California. Along with the beautiful countryside comes more debt than Bobby can handle. From the U.K., we have Milly, a natural-born jockey whose mother has endeavored to squash her goals. These two meet when Bobby goes to England to train some horses on her father's breeding farm. Milly ends up heading back to Highwood to be taught quarterhorse racing.

From the get-go, you know these two are going to end up together. But, you have to listen to five CDs to get there. Milly has a childhood nemesis, Rachel, who has managed to find every way possible to disrupt Milly's life. She is dating Milly's brother. She has been the daughter Milly's mum wishes she had. And when Milly starts to make a name for herself in America, Rachel manages to jump across the pond to steal some of her thunder. On Bobby's side, a disingenuous moneymaker with ulterior motives on Highwood helps Bobby get a handle on some of his debt. Add in some more characters with questionable morals and you end up with a lot of sex, backstabbing and manipulation. The horses are just a backdrop.

Like Adored, the reading by Walger is what steals the show here. Sonya was born and raised in England, but her career as an actress is big enough in the U.S. that you might recognize her. She has been on CSI: New York several times and has been in the movie The Search for John Gissing. Sonya has no trouble with English or American accents. She narrates with an English accent. I find it quite enjoyable to hear her mimic all the various characters.

Showdown is a very light romance novel. You know pretty early on the two main characters are going to get together in the end. You know that whatever obstacles are thrown in the mix will be overcome. And you know those who do despicable things will get what they deserve. So, for a light audiobook, it isn't bad. The characters are a bit shallow, but at least you can care more about the ones here than you could any character in Adored. As such, I find myself liking Showdown just a little more than Bagshawe's first novel.

review by
Wil Owen

8 September 2007

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