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Susan Mihalic Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Dark Horses (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Susan Mihalic

Susan Mihalic is a fiction author best known for her debut novel Dark Horses. This dark story about a young girl with big dreams is captivating, well-written, and it features an unforgettable protagonist. Mihalic works as a writing instructor, book editor, and curriculum writer. She has also worked as a therapeutic horseback riding teacher, which explains her deep understanding of horses and horse racing as a sport. Mihalic is a University of Southern Mississippi graduate and has worked in different parts of the US. Currently, this talented author resides in Taos, New Mexico, and enjoys working freelance as she grows her writing career.

Dark Horses

Dark Horses tells the story of fifteen-year-old Roan Montgomery. Ever since she was born, Roan had known little else but the riding arena and the competitive energy that came with horse racing. Fortunately, she was an outstanding rider well on her way to the Olympics. Her father was her coach, manager, and rider. Having emerged top in several Olympics, Monty Montgomery wanted someone to continue the family legacy. To an outsider, Roan seemed to have it all. She was clearly following in her father’s footsteps, her family was well off, and she is a common face on the media already benefiting from her endorsements. The reality, however, wasn’t as rosy.

Roan’s father demanded total obedience from his daughter, and everything, including her classes, had to be put on hold if they interfered with her riding. Sounds like a loving father looking out for his daughter? Well, it turns out there is something darker that had been going on in this girl’s life. For a long time, Roan had been sexually abused by her father. This man with a blackened soul was a predator, a monster who was merciless enough to psychologically and sexually abuse his daughter. Trapped in a closely guarded cage, Roan has no one to talk to. There was also that fear that telling anyone what was happening would get in the way of her dreams.

Roan’s mother was aware of her husband’s behavior. However, she seems to only care about herself and has no problem letting her husband do whatever he wanted to his daughter. As a wealthy, charismatic, and decorate former Olympian, it would be hard for anyone to believe that Monty was capable of such repulsive things. Roan had long normalized this inappropriate relationship because she did not know any better. This is until Will Howard comes along. Suddenly, it becomes clear that her dysfunctional family was anything but normal. What was happening to her was not okay, and no father should treat their child the way Monty treated her.

Away from the sexual abuse, this young girl had also been forced into endorsements by her father. Even though the family was well off, Roan’s father thought that the media’s pictures would do her career a lot of good. This left Roan with no time for anything else. While she wanted nothing but to ride in the Olympics, her vision broadens when she meets Howard. Will her father, who almost seems obsessed with his daughter, allow a friendship between these two teenagers? What happens if she asks for anything outside what her father has planned for her? Read this gripping story to see how Roan works to escape from her father’s cruelty.

Despite all the darkness in this book, there are some bright spots. Roan loves horses, and she even has a favorite. There is also her attraction to Howard. While she has no idea how to act in a normal relationship, she is ready to learn. She is afraid to share her heinous story, but, amazingly, these two teenagers’ feelings are real. When tragedy strikes and Roan’s beloved horse dies, this young girl gets the courage to stand up for herself. She finally sees herself as a brave young woman who had gone through a lot and survived it all.

The author paints a good picture of the dependency children place on parents, teachers, and coaches. These authority figures shape their young minds, and if there is abuse, the impact on their lives goes very deep. It also notable how well the author understands an adolescent’s mind and the effect a controlling authority figure has on it. A girl like Roan was vulnerable and easy to abuse because her mind couldn’t fully comprehend the impact of what was going on in her life. While you may find this story repulsive, you will admire Roan’s resilience. This young lady puts in the work to become a better person knowing that healthier relationships were possible.

This is both a survivor story and a page-turner. The themes of resilience and abuse take center stage, and the author covers them so delicately. All the riding during practice is not easy for this young lady, yet she remains focused. Her controlling father doesn’t make her life any easier. However, the darkest and most unfortunate thing is her father’s repeated sexual abuse. His mother hates Roan and isn’t home long enough to notice what is going on under her nose. Despite all that is working against her, Roan wants to become a gold medalist. She has the talent to accomplish this dream, and her discipline is unmatched. However, there is no telling what will happen when her father realizes that she wants more than he can offer.

Dark Horses is more than a tale about a teenage girl horse rider. It is a powerful coming-of-age story featuring a girl who wants to have it all despite her difficult upbringing. The book covers sensitive topics, including rape and sexual assault within the family. You will rejoice with Roan as her riding skills grow and get sad when her father’s inappropriate behavior becomes unsettling. While Roan initially believes that her family’s toxicity was a part of the life she wanted, it is amazing what a transformation happens when Howard enters her life. Given the flawless writing, it is hard to believe that this is Mihalic’s debut novel.

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