Book Spotlight~Mickie B. Ashling’s Fire Horse

FireHorseFire Horse by Mickie B. Ashling

Dreamspinner Press

Contemporary M/M Erotic Romance

Buy at Publisher

Preston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club.  Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor.  The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.

The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored.  Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.

Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans.  How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?

Teaser Excerpt:

Seville, Spain 1983

The next morning, we took a bus to a stud farm in Jerez de la Frontera. We passed the two-hour drive by feasting on the bocadillos we’d purchased at the bar near the hostel. The “sandwiches” were stuffed with salty Iberian ham and goat cheese, and we shared a wedge of cold potato omelet spiked with chorizo. Two liters of mineral water helped to wash down the hefty breakfast, and then we napped the rest of the way. By the time we arrived at Finca Mejia, where the horses were bred and controlled, we were eager to begin our tour.

I’d never seen an Andalusian, although I’d heard about this special breed. Anyone who loved horses knew they existed, but few had the money to own one. Highly prized as a warhorse, due to their speed and agility, their numbers had dwindled throughout the centuries. After reaching dangerously low levels, exportation of mares had been strictly forbidden to give Spanish and Portuguese breeders the opportunity to develop and expand their stock. The majority of them were bred here in the Andalusia province of Spain, thus the name. In Portugal they were called Lusitanos. Universally, they were known as the pure Spanish or Iberian horse.

Kon and I sat side by side with other prospective buyers and horse aficionados, hardly able to contain our excitement. The owner of this particular stud farm was quite aware of the impact his animals made as they entered the arena. There was a collective murmur from the crowd when the string of horses stopped within ten feet of the wooden fence separating them from the audience. They were magnificent! Most of them were gray and averaged fifteen and a half hands. Abundantly thick manes and long flowing tails set low and tight against their bodies, were distinctive features.

Before the animals were allowed to circle the ring so we could admire them from different angles, the owner gave a brief lecture on the origin of this ancient breed. In heavily accented English, he explained that these horses had lived on the Iberian Peninsula for thousands of years. Known for their strong but elegant build, they were prized as a war or cavalry horse until mounted knights began using heavier and heavier armor. They were soon replaced with larger but slower moving draft horses. The trend was later reversed with the development of firearms and the need for a more rapid and agile animal.

“Why were they in such demand?” a visitor asked. “They’re good looking but so is the Arabian.”

The owner of the farm was a white-haired gentleman who sat on a horse like a warrior. The pride in his voice was clearly evident as he extolled the virtues of this particular breed. “These horses evolved in hilly and rugged terrains, señor. Fighting for survival and grazing amidst the rocky landscape led to the development of a strong arched neck, hind legs positioned well underneath the body, with strong hock action, and small rounded hoofs. These attributes make the horse much more agile than the standard Arabian or other breeds, and they are, without a doubt, quite beautiful.”

“I see,” the man nodded.

“But your prices are outrageous,” another person commented. “I can buy two thoroughbreds for the price of one Andalusian.”

“You can also drive a Fiat rather than a Mercedes,” the Spaniard acknowledged haughtily. “Furthermore, your attitude has already cost you one of my animals. I suggest you visit another stud farm if you intend to buy.”

“My money is as good as anyone else’s,” the guy volleyed.

“It’s not always about money,” the Spaniard replied. “I’m very selective about my buyers. I would never sell one of my horses to anyone who couldn’t fully appreciate its value.”

“Bah!” the prospective buyer spat out before standing and blundering out of the arena.

“Shall we proceed?” the Spaniard asked coldly, scanning the rest of us to see if there were other visitors who wanted to join the deserter.

“Yes,” the group begged collectively.

What followed was an educational afternoon, learning about his magnificent animals, their care, their bloodlines, and their availability. We drifted off into small groups, each with a guide, so we could ask questions and take our time without worrying about someone else’s agenda. Our companion was Miguel, a young Gaucho about Kon’s age. He walked and talked with the swagger of ownership, which prompted me to ask, “Are you a family member?”

“Don Alvaro is my grandfather.”

“The old dude?”

Si.” Yes, he said, nodding.

“Is he as tough as he sounds?”

Miguel laughed. “Tougher.”

“I know all about those kind of men,” I admitted. “My Dad is demanding as hell.”

Abuelo loves his animals more than anything else.”

Konrad whistled suddenly and we stopped. “Now, that is a beauty,” he said, walking toward a frisky young mare that pranced as he approached. She was dark gray with a snowy white mane and tail. Her oval eyes sparkled with intelligence, and she bobbed her head as Kon got closer, acknowledging his presence with a flick of her tail and a flutter of long lashes.

“She’s flirting with him,” I said, astounded.

Es una coqueta, a teaser,” Miguel said.

“She’s a sweetheart,” Kon said, stroking her gently. “What’s her name?”

“Dulce,” Miguel said. “It means ‘sweet’.”

“What a perfect name,” Kon said admiringly. “May I ride her?”

“What is your profession if you don’t mind my asking?” Miguel stated, trained to cross-examine potential riders.

“I’m a professional polo player.”

Miguel looked Konrad up and down appreciatively. His eyes lingered a little too long, in my opinion, making my hackles rise. The young Spaniard was just as hot as Kon in a swarthier, dark-haired kind of way. If I hadn’t been so madly in love, I would have paid a lot more attention to the slim-hipped brunet who was staring at Konrad with blatant interest.

About the Author

Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

You can contact her at mickie.ashling@gmail.com or leave a comment on her blog at  http://mickiebashling.blogspot.com.

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