Read: March 31-April 1 Verdict: 4.5 Stars
July lives and breathes horses. She helps out her dad on a daily basis, who works as a trainer in a racing stables. The only problem is getting too attached to horses who may be sold on, and July is currently trying not to fall in love with a chestnut filly called Kali who wasn't made to be a racer. July is also dealing with an absent mom who she hasn't seen in 4 years after she walked out to chase her jockey dreams in another state. Plus, there's also the fact that the stables could be bankrupt and July will lose not just Kali, but all the horses.
I loved this! I would have read it in one sitting easily if I had started it a little bit earlier in the day but this was the perfect kind of horsey read for me to get my teeth into. I love books like this, Stories about people who simply love horses and it's a story that 100% invested in the world of horses and not just halfway there.
It's obvious Mara knows her stuff when it comes to racing but I found I was able to easily follow along with the different terms and races even though I'm not educated in the way of horse racing, and definitely not American horse racing which is seems to be all flat and no jumps. I loved the different people working in the stables but mostly all the horses and how Mara was able to give them all their own unique and beautiful personality - from gentle Diver, working Maggie, tenacious Lighter and the gifted-in-her-own-way Kali.
This book also didn't fall into a trope I see a lot of in horse novels which is the snobby and pretentious horse owners. Too often, there's the snobby, rich horse owner who looks down their nose at the plebs working in the stables and don't own their own horse. They often only ride their horses for the prestige of ribbons and trophies and not the love of riding, or even the horse themselves. With Stay the Distance, we had Beck who obviously cared for Lighter but wasn't a horse-mad fanatic like July was. We also had Beck's dad Delaney and his mam who obviously genuinely cared for the animals they owned, and the staff that worked for them. Plus Beck had a relationship with July and Matt with Martina, so they obviously weren't snobs with dating either. I loved how Delaney handled July asking him about Kali. It was perfect and lovely.
Beck and July's relationship was another great thing about this story. They obviously already had a history from growing up together and they had chemistry. They were obviously a good match and it was a waft of fresh air that there was major dramas in their relationship.
I think I would have liked more explanation about July and Marina's mom throughout the book as I was left confused as to what had happened in that she wouldn't even shoot them an email or a phone call. Considering they were teenagers when she left, it seemed really odd that she wouldn't even send them a text to let them know what she was up to.
Overall, I loved this book and I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a horsey read. I can't wait to read more of Mara's writing. I've already bought her next book!