Miranda Kenneally

Mexican Food Cures Writer's Block

Excerpt from RACING SAVANNAH

Chapter 1

Roots and Beginnings

December 3, 2013!

Welcome to Cedar Hill Farms of Franklin, Tennessee. Est. 1854. John C. Goodwin III, Owner

Welcome to Hell would be a more appropriate sign, considering Dad just uprooted me from West Virginia and hauled me to Tennessee right before senior year.

Dad impressed Mr. Goodwin at a race earlier this year, so he got hired on as head groom. That’s why we moved here two days ago—Dad couldn’t give up this opportunity to work at a fancy farm that trains horses for the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup, and I didn’t want to be the evil daughter who stamped her foot and refused to come.

It doesn’t totally matter, because home is where my dad is. But it still sucks that I had to leave my part-time job exercising horses.  It would’ve become a full-time position when I graduated from high school, and now I have to start all over again.

I punch the code into the alarm box, the heavenly white gates swing open, and I steel myself for the half-mile trek to Hillcrest, the staff quarters. My claustrophobic new home. Hillcrest is attached to the gargantuan white manor house, where a smattering of comfy rocking chairs dot the wraparound porch, waiting for someone to sit down.

Back in West Virginia, it was just me and Dad and She Who Must Not Be Named living in our trailer. Now we’re sharing quarters with six other staff members and their kids. To escape I took a walk to downtown Franklin this morning, but I’m cash poor at the moment so there wasn’t much to do besides loiter, and the last thing I need before school starts is to gain a reputation as that weird girl who loiters.

So here I am, back in hell, gathering my courage to go talk to the lead trainer about getting some work as an exercise rider, so I can cease being cash poor. I used to exercise racehorses at the track and casino in Charles Town. But that was at a totally different level—the horses I rode there were like driving a Ford and here they are like Ferraris. Hell, the Queen of England houses her horses thirty minutes away.

What if the trainer thinks I’m unqualified? Or a hack? I’ve been riding since I was four, but still. Just go talk to him, Savannah! The worst he can say is no… and then I can go back to loitering. I inhale, then let out the deep breath I’ve been holding and take in the scent of cornbread, fresh laundry, dirt, cedar trees, and of course, horseshit.

I can do this.

I charge down the driveway and suddenly a wailing, high-pitched alarm goes off. My first thought is: Tornado! But the skies are as blue as a robin’s egg. Seconds later I see a brown and white blur streaking across the grass. A racer. Two guys on ponies are chasing it. He must have escaped!

I sprint toward the horse as he zigzags my way. The horse seems curious. But not curious enough to slow down. He zips past me as I yell, “Stop!” and take off after him. The horse circles back around. I hold a hand up. “Whoa, there.”

The horse slows to a jog, studying me, his expression both wary and nosy. Then he charges me. I reach out and snatch his bridle. With a firm grip I thrust him away from me, showing him who’s boss. That’s when I discover he’s wearing a saddle.

“Did you throw your rider?” Suddenly he rears up and kicks his feet. When he returns to all fours, I get up in his face again. “Whoa!” He cowers, bowing his head.

One time a horseman told me I have a way with horses. Dad told me not to listen when men say things like that, because they’re just trying to get into my pants. But I do have a way with horses. Dad, however, does not have a way with words.

I confirm the horse is a boy, then gently slap his neck, checking the engraving on his bridle. His name is Tennessee Star.

“You sure are fast,” I tell the young horse, petting his nose. He’s beautiful—a light brown chestnut with white markings. A Ferrari. I never rode such a well-made colt in Charles Town.

Then, from the fields beyond the manor house, a guy comes riding up on a horse. I don’t take my eyes off that rider, even when Tennessee Star tries to yank away.

I haven’t met the owner’s son yet, but I’ve seen him riding around like he’s king of the place. Which is technically his title, I guess. When we arrived two days ago, Mr. Goodwin’s chief of staff told me the Goodwin family is fiercely private, and that non-housekeeping staff aren’t allowed inside the manor. We were instructed to keep our distance from the Goodwins. Since I don’t want Dad to get fired on Day 3, I haven’t spoken to the boy.

Still, he’s beautiful: I should start a magazine called GQ Cowboy, and he could be the cover model every month. Wavy hair the color of straw is just long enough to show out from under the brim of his cowboy hat. His snowy white button-down shirt is spotless and pressed, tucked into his jeans, the arms rolled up to his elbows. The three coonhounds that always seem to follow him around bound up and sniff my jeans.

Last night a giggling maid told me his name: Jack Goodwin, and he’s 17, like me. He attends Hundred Oaks High, the school I’m starting on Monday.

“Star!” Jack says, dismounting fluidly. “You’re too smart, you know that?” he scolds the horse, then grabs the bridle as I let go. Two farmhands jog up on ponies and Jack wordlessly hands Star off to one of them, slapping the horse’s flank before they lead him away.

“If I didn’t love that horse so much I’d send him to drag a tourist carriage in New York City,” Jack says in a deep Tennessee drawl. “That’d teach him not to buck his rider and run off.”

Once he confirms he has a good grasp on his stallion’s reins, Jack turns to me. His blue eyes widen and a bright smile spreads across his face.

“Thanks for catching Star. That was insane how you cornered him with no corner. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“No problem.”

“So what can I do you for?” He tips his cowboy hat in an exaggerated manner, and smiles again, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. Behind closed lips I run my tongue over my slightly crooked front ones. “You’re a bit late for the tour. They’re at 8:00 and it’s nearly noon now.”

He thinks I’m here for the tour?

“No, no,” I say, starting to explain, but then he unleashes his megawatt smile. It makes my throat close up and my heart pounds even harder. This guy is hot, but I don’t like boys who get whatever they want without trying. I worked damned hard to get my part-time exercise rider job back in Charles Town. Just like I’ll work damned hard to get a position here.

“Soo…” Jack says, stroking the bay stallion’s mane. “Do you want a private tour? You know, to say thanks for catching my horse?”

A private tour? Like, me and Jack alone? Dad would kill me for breaking the Goodwins’ privacy rules. Not to mention hanging around people like Jack is against everything I believe in.

“I’m not here for a tour. I—”

“I didn’t know Mom was hosting guests this weekend,” Jack says. “I hope she’s not having another fashion show for charity, because I barely survived the last one.”

“We haven’t met.”

He thrusts a hand out, grinning. “I know. I’d have remembered you. I’m Jack Goodwin.”

To be continued…. 🙂

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Comments (59)

59 Responses to “Excerpt from RACING SAVANNAH”

  1. I’m liking 😉 I like her confidence in her talents & shyness with Jack.

  2. Corie says:

    Sooooo exited!!! Love it already!!!!!!will Sam Henry and Jordan woods be in this one? And who’s getting married??? Can’t wait!!!!!

  3. Added it to Goodreads! I can’t wait! YAY! :o)

  4. Corie says:

    Catching Jordan is my favorite book of all time!!! Can you pretty please right a seccond book to it? Like what happens to them in college and stuff??

  5. Miranda Kenneally says:

    @Corie – We’ll see. 🙂

  6. Corie says:

    Yayyyy!!!:):)wait so Sam and Jordan are in this one?

  7. megan says:

    Love! Very excited for this to come out in December. I adore the cover too. I wonder what color the spine will be? I’m going to guess yellow. That will look nice in my colorful Miranda Kenneally book collection 🙂

  8. Aubri says:

    I knew I shouldn’t have read it because now I can’t wait all the way untill December to continue this story! Sure it will be a great addition to the Hundred Oaks Collection, and I want to see what news there is about my favs Jordan and Sam!

  9. Lena @ I Love Books Club says:

    YES YES YES… I was so happy to hear that you wrote a book with horse back riding 😀

  10. Petra says:

    I’m already hooked 🙂

  11. Patti says:

    Love this. Suggestion for next book sport: Lacrosse.

  12. Molly says:

    I love it! Can’t wait to read the rest! I wish it would come out sooner then December 3rd but I guess I’ll wait. I love that it’s about horse! I like how you hook on sports or some activity that everyone can relate to; its a good idea! You are my favorite author right now and I can’t wait to see what books you’ll have in the future! Suggestion for next book: Make it a sport that not a lot of people do (Archery, Lacrosse, etc.)

  13. Samantha says:

    Could one of your future books involve Basketball?

  14. Maggie says:

    Great excerpt!! I love your writing and all the themes of each book are wonderfull. Please keep the books coming!!

  15. TayteH says:

    1) Awesome.
    2) I can’t wait for this book.
    3) Why in the world do we have to wait for December for this book to come out?!?!?!?!
    4) Love your books. 😀

  16. Miranda Kenneally says:

    @Tayte – Thanks! I wish it was coming out sooner too, but they are still putting the finishing touches on it.

  17. Rachael says:

    I ride horses so I’m so excited for this book!

  18. bailee says:

    ok so after reading catching jordan i asked my mom if i could play football and she accualllllly said yes!!!!!! I just finished up my first season and i freeking luv it!!! when i went to our open house all the boys looked at me and just stared but now…….i am the QB of my team!!!! thanks! your book inspired my to try my best and just do it!!!!! I luv your books and cant wait to see who gets married!!!! You should write a secon one anbout jj ,carter,sam, and jordan!!!! Good luck!!!!!!

  19. Samantha says:

    What happens with Corndog and Parker? Is there something involving younger siblings from previous books aswell? I loovvvveeee your books! Please tell me your making more!?

  20. Miranda Kenneally says:

    @Samathana – Corndog’s little brother, Rory, is one of the main characters of Racing Savannah. And yes, there are at least two more books after Racing Savannah.

  21. bailee says:

    Is here reallllllllllllllly going to be a wedding?

  22. Rachel says:

    Out of curiosity, is this the Savannah Sam Henry was making out with in Catching Jordan? But either way I am SOOO excited for this book Ibhave loved every

  23. Rachel says:

    *I have loved every one before it!

  24. kate says:

    I think you should do one about a swimmer

  25. Joanna says:

    I cant wait to see who is getting married!!!!!

  26. Ryan Snyder says:

    I..cannot t wait…. to read this book. O.O

  27. Tess says:

    Will Matt and Kate be in this as well? I’m curious to see if they work out…

  28. Miranda Kenneally says:

    @Tess – Yes!

  29. Chelsea says:

    Can you give us one hint about who getting married. I’m so curious it killing me.

  30. Miranda Kenneally says:

    @Chelsea – I’m just glad the secret isn’t out yet! *giggles evilly*

  31. cami says:

    Come on i know who gets married it has to be matt and kate right!? Matt did give her his frat letters! Omg you should introduce us to mean sarah who broke browns heart!!!!

  32. Chelsea says:

    No, maybe it Jordan and Henry.It been like two years since their book. They have to be like twenty or something.

  33. cami says:

    That doesnt work and no they are still eighteen because its the same time frame in each book

  34. Miranda Kenneally says:

    @cami and @chelsea Jordan and Sam are 23 in Racing Savannah. 😉

  35. cami says:

    Omg they are getting married !!arent they? Holy mortification as parker would say lol.I cant wait ! Spill the beans miranda plz i might just die!

  36. Corie says:

    I bet it’s will and Parker! But I hope it’s Jordan and Sam!

  37. cami says:

    At this point imma die because its eating me alive!!! Im in love with all the couples so its hard to choose!!! But i love commenting on this website! I feel like miranda is the only author i read from cassandra clare to p.c.cast or some other great author who responds and tell us what she thinks!! IM A TRUE FAN !COME TO JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA!!!!

  38. cami says:

    Lol ever since stealing parker !!! I call my friend corndog and she calls me corn fritter in the most adorable country accent lol lmbo

  39. tori says:

    omg this book is going to be amazing i cant wait!!!

  40. lizzie says:

    hi miranda, i am a HUGE fan of all your books!!!
    i love catching jordan, stealing parker, and i love things i can’t forget!!!! will you write one on ice skating maybe? (like a figure skater and a hocker player or whatever) i don’t know, I’m just thinking 🙂 i cannot wait for this book and is every couple in it?? is matt and kate be in it?? will there be any further books after racing savanah?? yours books inspire me so much to just try my best or go for it! each one of them has an amazing lesson in the end!!!! i really hope you reply to my comment 🙂 let me know 🙂 thank you

  41. lizzie says:

    hi miranda, i am a HUGE fan of all your books!!!
    i love catching jordan, stealing parker, and i love things i can’t forget!!!! will you write one on ice skating maybe? (like a figure skater and a hocker player or whatever) i don’t know, I’m just thinking 🙂 i cannot wait for this book and is every couple in it?? will matt and kate be in it?? will there be any further books after racing savanah?? yours books inspire me so much to just try my best or go for it! each one of them has an amazing lesson in the end!!!! i really hope you reply to my comment 🙂 let me know 🙂 thank you

  42. cami says:

    Will all the couples be in the book? Matt kate,woods sam ,parker corndog lol

  43. Molly says:

    I am so glad you are writing these books. You inspire me will every new one you write. The other day I sat down at my computer and started writing like I was writing my own book! I love all your books and I love that they all give me great lessons to learn or ideas to think about! I hope you keep writing because you’re my favorite author! I can’t wait to read Racing Savannah! The first chapter sounds fantastic! I hope I see a lot more of your books! You’re a real inspiration!

  44. Heather says:

    I am so exited for this book to come out! I have been counting down!!!!!

  45. cami says:

    Come on miranda spilll! Plzzzz

  46. samantha says:

    miranda i just want to acknowledge my undying love for your books. Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I can’t Forget, they all are such amazing books. Every character is so inspirational and they all have unique hearts. You are a great writer and i cant wait for Racing Savannah to finally come out! Ive been waiting since summer… and i hope more books are to come after 🙂 thanks to the greatest writer ever!!

  47. cami says:

    Omg it was beautiful miranda!!! You help me build my self esteem and give me hope!!

  48. Jojo says:

    I want to read more about the catching jordan characters. Catching Jordan is my favorite hundred oaks book

  49. Jojo says:

    Are sam henry and jordan enaged? It didn’t say in racing savannah

  50. Jojo says:

    I am almost done with racing savannah! I decided I have to read cathing jordan again!

  51. Jojo says:

    Racing Savannah! Was good! I saw a little of jordan henry, matt kate, and will parker.

  52. Makenzie says:

    SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!!! Miranda, amazing job. You really know how to bring the “first love” to life with just words. You should be so proud of yourself and all that you have done. You are someone that I look up to. But…What’s the news with Jordan and Sam? With their relationship I mean? Everyone else is either engaged or getting married, why not them? I think you should have a follow-up book just on them!!! Congrats on writing an amazing book!!! Is there another book after this????? Can’t wait to find out!!!

  53. Makenzie says:

    SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!!! Miranda, amazing job. You really know how to bring “first love” to life with just words. You should be so proud of yourself and all that you have done. You are someone that I look up to. But…What’s the news with Jordan and Sam? With their relationship I mean? Everyone else is either engaged or getting married, why not them? I think you should have a follow-up book just on them!!! Congrats on writing an amazing book!!! Is there another book after this????? Can’t wait to find out!!!

  54. Gabby says:

    Can you write at least one more book about what happens to all the characters’ college life from your other three amazing novels???

  55. Hannah says:

    1) Are Sam and Jordan still together?!?! I absolutely fell in love with them and I would hate to not see them with each other.
    2) For another story I strongly suggest ice hockey!!! I’ve played since I was really young and I don’t know a better sport out there

  56. adriana says:

    omg i love you

  57. adriana says:

    your are an amazing author but you know what you should do is also put it in the boy’s point of view too.

  58. Jasmine says:

    I’ve read several of you’re books and have loved each and every one

  59. Ellen says:

    I absolutely love this book I am reading it for school

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