Fire Horse - Mickie B. Ashling 5 Star read and an Excellent book by Mickie B. Ashling.... I. Loved. This. Book. I was so engrossed and captivated in Preston’s story, I couldn't even spare the time to update… I just had to get to the end!!

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This is a love story that transcends time, a first love than can never be forgotten, a love that was extinguished before it had been explored to fruition… leaving a man that was bitter and angry at life, and despite his search for the last 27 years, life had never given him what he had touched so briefly as an adolescent in an affair with the boy that still held his heart.

Preston Fawkes wakes up after an operation to his spine from an accident playing polo which proves to be one too many injuries and at forty five he should consider retirement the alternative as his doctor so kindly pointed out was a wheelchair!

“Your bedside manner leaves much to be desired, Doctor.”
“I’m not here to win you over as a friend,” he pronounced. “My goal is to have you walking out of this room, and the sooner the better.”

Now even though Preston considers himself lucky to still be alive, he is a stubborn arse and giving up polo was out of the question… it’s his life and the only thing apart from his children he gleans any joy from, which was another reason he couldn't give up, he had far too many people dependant on him and he is laden with financial obligations which included two ex wives.

“Polo isn't a hobby, Doc, and my kids would go into financial shock if the money dried up. As for the ex-wives, they’d rather see me dead than give up their lifestyle.”
“Is that all you are to them?” he asked. “A cash cow?”

Preston is not a nice man and had no redeeming qualities, at one point I had to consider if I really wanted to continue reading a book when I so disliked the MC,  he is conceited, rude and arrogant and a man whore of epic proportions with a string of one night stands both male and female in his wake. But Preston’s character with all its complexities was moulded and defined by his past, an abusive father and a lost love, and it is through his drug induced haze from the morphine drip that we get a flashback to 1976 and we begin to understand the man through the boy…

At the age of 10 and desperate to be able to ride a horse and  play polo like the big boys, the 15 year old Konrad takes Preston under his wing and mentors him in game he loves and teaches him about the horses he is so passionate about, and this marks the moment in time when Konrad became the focus of Preston’s world, his hero and the boy that in his eyes could do no wrong.

At 13 his English Mother has grand ideas for her boy and an education at England’s finest with the hob knobs and Royals is exactly where she is sending him, which was something his Texan father was none too happy about, polo was bad enough but the idea of his boy in all those sissy clothes… Nah!!! 

Preston is a bright and intelligent boy and is certainly not slow in coming forward and if there is one thing he is going to achieve before being shipped off, it is tell Konrad exactly how he feels and with a chaste kiss, so begins a young love that is divided by continents, school and for Konrad the Polo circuit.

Preston at 16 is impatient he wants everything now and is tenacious in his ardour, but at 16 he is also very naive and like every teenager of that age, they think they know what's best for them and Preston was no different. He had fallen in love with Konrad at 13 and he wanted the world to know but the 80’s were a dangerous time for gays and Preston was oblivious, AIDS was known as the gay cancer and the gay community was taking the full brunt of the ignorance and violence from a disease few new little about. Konrad is older than Preston and he has lived a little as a gay man he has explored his sexuality and that was something the good ‘ole boys of Texas would NEVER understand, so despite the profound love these two boys share, society, ignorance, guilt, regret, prejudices, lies, and self recriminations come into play… and of course not forgetting Preston’s stubborn pride!!

The heart of this book is the relationship between Preston and Konrad which takes place between 1976 ~ 1983 when both boys were adolescent so if you have issues about the sexual exploration of teenagers then this book is not for you, I must say it is not crude or degrading in any way… these two boys loved each other and that is the crux of the story it is both beautiful and heartbreaking. They both also share a love of polo but in truth, it does not revolve around the sport.

Through his teenage years I  a came to understand Preston’s attitude and Konrad’s reluctance and both men, although flawed had loved each other, I could sit here and say it could have been done this way or that, and criticise the actions of the characters but this is their story, they made mistakes they fucked up and got on with it and I loved their story.

This is the first book I have read from Ms Ashling and it is an excellent read, there were a few heart stopping moments, that had my heart pounding, the characters were well developed and I had a particular soft spot for Ned, Preston’s friend from his Eton days and someone that quite frankly deserved a medal for putting up with the obnoxious git… Dr Rayne Carlisle was a Mystery with a delicious dark side to him which could have explored more… But that's just my depraved mind!! Oh, and he took no shit from Preston whilst he was in hospital and gave as good as he got.. so he definitely made me smile.

The end… well that was just perfect and had me reaching for the tissues as the tears just kept rolling down my face.

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