After a near fatal riding accident, Bebe Barkley is banned from riding and sent off to boarding school. Finn Foxley, her roommate and partner in crime, devise a plan to get themselves kicked out of school, in order to return to the world they love.
Once back on the Equestrian circuit, best friends will become deadly rivals! Enter Billy O’Reilly, Bebe’s handsome trainer, who will enforce 7 Rules that will turn Bebe’s world up upside down forever.
The only thing Bebe Barkley has ever loved is horseback riding. Her father is an arrogant asshole but indulges his daughter with both a beautiful horse and riding lessons. Her mother has basically checked out of life and only seems to come out of her alcohol haze when her husband is gone. The only moments of true happiness in Bebe’s life are those spent with Billy O’Reilly and his family. Billy is a straight-laced kid who loves horses and has a knack for teaching others. From the moment they meet, Bebe and Billy have a strong connection that will continue throughout their lives, even during the times when they cannot be together. Both Billy and Bebe are driven to succeed and with they both have the same goal, see Bebe make the Olympic equestrian team and bring home the gold. Billy’s methods for training Bebe are very simple and very direct and as long as she follows the rules he sets for her, success if virtually assured. Thinking they will be together forever, both Billy and Bebe are thrown when Bebe’s father decides to send her to boarding school.
From the moment Bebe meets Finn Foxley her life irreversibly altered. Finn is a spoiled, angry girl whose parents indulge her every whim. Boarding school is not at all what Finn has on her schedule and within moments of arriving, she is hatching a plan to get herself kicked out. All Bebe wants to do is get back to her training and with Finn as a roommate she is sure to get kicked out and sent right back home. Though it takes the girls several months, several lies to every adult they know, one huge winter break party and, one call to the police, the girls do manage to get themselves kicked out of boarding school. Just as soon as Bebe and Finn get home, they both return to their training (yes, Finn is also a rider) and immediately set themselves up as rivals on the competition circuit.
It doesn’t take long for Bebe to become completely involved in competition and as she and as the season wears on, she and Finn’s rivalry becomes even more intense. At her core, Bebe is a good girl and with Billy by her side, she feels confident and capable. Finn is reckless and cunning and will do anything and everything necessary to win. Finn has no problem hurting people to get what she wants and even goes so far as to sicken Bebe to keep her from competing. Bebe is real competition for Finn but before Finn has to take any truly evil steps, Bebe’s father steps in and creates a horrifying tragedy that will tear his family apart and forever crush his daughter’s dream of earning an Olympic gold medal.
With nothing left but a broken dream and her parent’s money, Bebe embarks on journey of self-destruction that will lead her further and further away from home and the simple rules once given to her by Billy O’Reilly. True to form, Bebe never does anything in half measures and before she knows it, she is up to her neck in an abusive relationship, drug use and, no way out. With nothing but her life to lose, Bebe makes the only phone call she can think to make and prays her father can rescue her.
The Bottom Line: I really wanted to like Rules for Riders far, far more than I did. The synopsis is intriguing and offers something I don’t come across too often in my normal reading endeavors, professional level equestrian events. The parts of the book that involve Billy, Bebe and, the training and completion are really interesting and I blazed through these chapters at lightning speed as they flow smoothly and more easily than the rest of the read. It is in these chapters that I found the most convincing and interesting character and plot development. This, of course begs the question, what issues do I have with the other chapters in the book? In truth, the entire read feels like a series of short stories with the same characters thrown together to create a full-length novel. The transition from each period in Bebe’s life is not at all smooth and generally feels like jumping from one thing to the next without any logical transition. I did finish the read, cover to cover and found some of the ideas and characters interesting but think this read would be best served after another run through by a good editor to help create a greater sense of continuity.