Title Winning Hailey’s Heart (Horses Heal Hearts, Book 5)
Author Kimberly Beckett
Genre Contemporary Romance
After losing both legs below the knee in a drunk driving accident, Hailey Warren dreamed of helping others similarly disabled by becoming a physical therapist. When the university she decided to attend denies her that opportunity based solely on her disability, she is left devastated and rudderless. Now, the handsome and irresistible Marcus Harrington, Eighth Earl of Storrington, has offered to use his education, connections, and position to help her fight for her dream, but will her love for him survive after she discovers his devastating secret?
Hailey stalked into the manor house and went straight to her bedroom, closing the door behind her. She flung herself onto the bed and huffed in disgust at herself.
“Great job, Hailey. You’ve just made a fool of yourself in front of the nicest and most handsome man you’ve ever met. Good luck overcoming that first impression.”
Hailey had known right away the most gorgeous man she had ever seen was the famous Eighth Earl of Storrington, otherwise known as The Elusive Earl by the tabloids. She remembered seeing his image for the first time when she and Jessica had been shopping at a nearby grocery store not long ago.
Hailey had been in her wheelchair because it was the end of the day and she had overdone things a bit athletically. The wheelchair gave her legs and hips a chance to rest after a long day of exertion. Jess had divided their shopping list, and Hailey had maneuvered around the store to find the few items Jess had selected for her. As she waited for Jess to complete her list, Hailey noticed a tabloid near the register with a boldly drafted headline. “‘The Elusive Earl—England’s Most Eligible Bachelor.’”
The photo that dominated the front page was of a very handsome young man, probably still in his twenties, trying desperately to shield himself from the paparazzo who had been taking the photo. Underneath the photo was a caption indicating the young man was Marcus Harrington, the newly ascended Eighth Earl of Storrington. Apparently, he was constantly avoiding publicity and the myriad of beautiful and famous young women eager to throw themselves at him in hopes of becoming the next Countess, and instead kept to himself on his estate in Storrington.
In a lower corner of the larger photo was a portrait-style photo of the man who had to have been the new Earl’s equally handsome father even as he appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties. He was wearing formal attire, and his smile, although brilliant, seemed fake to Hailey. She was drawn into reading a bit of the story when Jessica appeared at her shoulder.
“He’s very good looking, and a bachelor too.” She picked up the paper and looked more closely at the photos. “There’s a chance Michael might know him. He could hook you up.” Jessica poked Hailey gently in the ribs with her elbow as she teased her for her obvious interest.
Hailey shot Jessica a disbelieving look. She wasn’t serious, was she? She resorted to sarcasm to respond. “Oh, yes, of course. He’d be perfect for me, and just my type. Ask Michael to give him a call and see if he’s interested in dating a cripple.”
Jessica frowned her displeasure at Hailey’s tone, “That’s not fair and you know it. You’re not a cripple. You’re an intelligent, beautiful young woman any man would be lucky to have.”
“Tell that to the man I got matched with last week on Bumble. As soon as he approached my table and saw I was wearing prosthetics, he offered up a lame excuse about forgetting another engagement and made a beeline for the exit.” She paused for a moment to grimace. “No pun intended.”
Then she grinned despite her best efforts to suppress it. Jessica had groaned at Hailey’s attempt at humor, then helped her through the checkout, then carefully maneuvered her wheelchair through the exit.
As Hailey thought back over their encounter today, Marcus had seemed easily approachable, although she had to admit he had initially been a bit tense and formal with her. It hadn’t taken long for him to relax, though, as they talked about his horse Casanova, or Cass as he called him. Then she’d had to go and ruin it by letting his completely reasonable question about her workout wear set her off, forcing her to leave before she allowed her barely suppressed anger to take over and she said something she might regret.
She knew under normal circumstances her attitude toward her regular workouts was pretty good, and she had been making progress, but today’s workout had been particularly frustrating. Up to today, she had only been lifting hay bales, and she had begun to feel confident in her improved strength. Today, she had been testing her balance in combination with that strength. She asked one of the barn workers to toss her thirty-pound bags of horse feed, forcing her to exhibit both strength and balance to safely catch them. She had failed miserably. The combination of weight and the velocity with which the bags had hit her had forced her off her balance and onto her ass more than once.
Not for the first time, Hailey found herself thinking long and hard about whether she still wanted to pursue her dream of being a physiotherapist, especially when it meant enduring so much pain and suffering. Could she ever do the job safely enough the college would accept her as a student? So far, the answer was a resounding no.
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Giveaway: I’m one of the authors participating in the Beach Blanket Book Giveaway and you can win an autographed paperback copy of Dressage Dreaming (Horses Heal Hearts, Book 1) by Kimberly Beckett (US only).
Runs June 1 - 30 and is open internationally for many prizes. Winners will be drawn on July 1, 2022.
Ever since she can remember, Kimberly Beckett has loved horses. She wore out 4 rocking horses before she was 5 years old, and as she got older, she read every horse story in print, from Black Beauty to The Black Stallion. Her parents couldn’t afford to buy her a horse of her own, and believed it was just a phase she would soon outgrow, but as soon as she had her first attorney job nearly 30 years ago, Kimberly bought her first horse, and she hasn’t been without at least one ever since. She has been riding dressage for several years and has earned her United States Dressage Federation Bronze Medal. When she wasn’t reading about horses, she was reading romance novels, and her favorites always involve an alpha male Hero riding a magnificent horse. Kimberly has now found a way to combine her love of horses with her love of romance by writing her own version of equine-facilitated happily ever afters. She truly believes that Horses Heal Hearts. She lives in southwest Ohio with her warmblood horse. She hopes you enjoy her stories, and encourages you to leave positive reviews for her work. She also loves to hear from her readers. She can be reached via her website at www.kimberlybeckett.com.
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