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Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts by Grace Marshall

by Kellyn Roth |
May 26, 2017

Title: Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts
Author: Grace Marshall
Series: Horse Haven, #2
Genre: Christian Young Adult Fiction
Era: contemporary
Setting: Missouri, USA
Publisher: Grace Marshall
Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts by Grace Marshall


A spunky kitten on a daring rescue, a neglected mare full of love, and boys that recur like warts make teenager Ruth Deloach’s life far from boring. For every kind person that comes to the ranch there seems to be two warts.

The attitudes and temperatures of southeast Missouri starkly contrast the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but Ruth doesn’t have time to adjust before her father holds an open house for their horse ranch, Meredith Meadows. Ruth’s overbearing older brother seems to just add dangerous sparks to her frustration as she tries to figure out who she has to be nice to and who she actually wants to be nice to. At first, the horse lessons on the ranch start making Ruth feel as if she is back in her comfort zone until she gets tossed by one of the horses.

Sometimes the best way through life is to laugh through the tears, warts, and her own attempts to mow the grass in a straight line.

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I was excited to read this book because I really enjoyed Horse Haven Book 1, No Pizza Delivery? The second book in the series did not disappoint. It was just as funny. The author’s writing has also improved a great deal; there aren’t so many typos, grammatical mistakes, etc.

Plot: 3/5

I admit that the plot isn’t extremely strong. There is no real arc, no main theme. It’s mostly about Ruth’s adventures, often hilarious, around the horse ranch, her meeting new people, etc.
This is all fairly believable, interesting, and entertaining (especially for a horse-lover like me), except for one thing. Every boy who comes to the ranch seems to be attracted to Ruth. I find this unbelievable! I mean, she’s a younger teen – I think she was like fourteen, right? Thirteen? Maybe fifteen at the most? – and it’s ridiculous that all these teenage boys would be so attracted to her.
Aside from that, it was a good plot.

Characters: 4/5

The characters were all well-developed and fun. I especially like Ruth (of course!). Her narration is very clever.
I didn’t see as much of her brother as I’d have liked to, but the couple scenes in which he was were great. Her dad and grandpa are standup characters, especially her grandpa. He’s hilarious!
It was interesting to meet all the people who come and go at the ranch – whether to get lessons or board their horses.
But, of course, the best character was Amerigo. 😉

Setting: 5/5

I know, I know. This is partially ’cause I’m a sucker for horses, the south, and anything related to those two subjects. But I felt that it was well-portrayed. I could feel the hot days (even though I’m much more heat-tolerant than Ruth, I think) and see the meadows and … it was just well-done. I commend the author.

Writing: 4/5

This book was well-edited, much better than the last one. I really enjoyed Ruth’s sarcastic narration. It’s really a great writing style.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a
Violence: Ruth gets thrown from a horse, suffers from heatstroke, etc.
Sexual: a boy says he’d be willing to have sex with Ruth (Ruth is frustrated and angry at this). A couple boys ogle Ruth. One boy tries to kiss Ruth (but she’s saved just in the nick of time).
Other: some rude humor, though it’s never raunchy.
Good for young adult audiences. Young teens may need some parental guidance because of the way the boys act around Ruth.

Overall: 4/5

This was a great story, although I hold that it could have been a little better in the plot area. I loved the characters and the clever narration. I’d probably not recommend reading this book before you read the first book in the series, though.

~Kellyn Roth~

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Do you love horses? Have you ever visited Missouri (or, y’know, lived there)? Have you ever owned a kitten?

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4 Responses

  1. I’m not sure how much I would like it, since it’s modern, (and I don’t appreciate teen infatuation ever) but it does sound like it could be funny. We just drove through Missouri! It’s a little more boring that Kansas and Indiana, but that’s okay. It’s probably also more boring than Illinois. (To, you know, drive through) Someone we encountered on our trip said that the people in Missouri weren’t friendly. 😀

    1. It was funny, but yes, it’s a little more modern. Still, the teen in this book was never infatuated with everyone … she was pretty level-headed about the boys. Though I guess she did have a little bit of a crush on a guy in the first book … :/
      Oh, really? That’s fun! I wish I could go on a cross-state trip some time.

      1. I know, it was fun! I do like traveling to different states. You should do it! 😉 I guess the states are much bigger in the West, though, so it’s not as easy to go through four or five states in one day.

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