In 1854 Virginia, Hunter Calhoun wonders why his dreams lay shattered. Only whiskey keeps him from remembering what a failure he is. The former planter turned horse trainer cannot stop his business from sliding towards bankruptcy. When he switched businesses, his wife failed to adjust to a new role and ultimately died. He raises two young children, but his son Blue still suffers from traumas that keep him from speaking. In a last ditch effort to save Albion Plantation, he imported an Irish thoroughbred, Sir Finnegan. However, Hunter believes Finn is evil as he crippled a worker and killed a mare. Ready to kill the steed, a relative talks him into taking the horse to Flyte Island, home of renowned horsemaster Henry Flyte.
When he arrives he learns the famous Flyte, former trainer to Lord Derby, was murdered about a year ago. His daughter Eliza lives by herself on the remote island. A distraught Henry wants to kill Finn, but Eliza persuades him into giving her a chance to tame the stallion. As she works with Finn, she finds herself falling in love with his owner. When they are forced to flee the island, she quickly falls in love with his two children. Even if Hunter loves her, she realizes they can never be a permanent pair.
THE HORSEMAN'S DAUGHTER is an interesting antebellum romance that will provide much pleasure to sub-genre readers. Though the story line contains one unnecessary subplot, the novel smoothly flows into a cohesive tale as expected from Susan Wiggs. The characters are an intriguing cast who makes the decade before the Civil War feels genuine. Ms. Wiggs has written another winning Americana romance that will leave fans clamoring for Blue's tale next.