Ginger’s Heart by Katy Regnery
Date of Publication: March 22, 2016
“I finished Ginger’s Heart last night, and I am completely and utterly in love.” –Mia Sheridan, NY Times bestselling author
Once upon a time there were two cousins:
one golden like the sun,
one dark like midnight,
one a protector,
one a predator,
one a Woodsman
one a Wolf…
both owning equal,
parts of a little girl’s heart.
In this modern retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” the woodsman and the wolf are cousins, and Little Red is the girl with whom they both fall in love.
Beautiful Ginger McHuid, daughter of Kentucky’s premiere horse breeder, grows up on her family farm, best friends with Cain Wolfram, the son of her father’s Stallion Manager, and Cain’s cousin, Josiah Woodman, son of a local banker. Throughout their happy childhood, the three are inseparable friends, but as they mature into adults, complicated feelings threaten to destroy their long history of friendship and love.
This is a standalone novel inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to profanity and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
(The next standalone a modern fairytale novel, Don’t Speak, inspired by The Little Mermaid, will be released in 2017.)
About Katy Regnery
Katy Regnery, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author, started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract for a winter romance entitled By Proxy.
Now a hybrid author who publishes both independently and traditionally, Katy claims authorship of the six-book Heart of Montana series, the six-book English Brothers series, and a Kindle Worlds novella entitled “Four Weddings and a Fiasco: The Wedding Date,” in addition to the standalone novels, Playing for Love at Deep Haven and Amazon bestseller, The Vixen and the Vet.
The Vixen and the Vet is included in the charity anthology Hometown Heroes: Hotter Ever After, and Katy’s novella “Frosted” appeared in the Jan ’15 anthology, Snowy Days Steamy Nights. Additionally, Katy’s short story, “The Long Way Home” appeared in the first RWA anthology (Feb ’15), Premiere.
Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.
Find Katy Regnery Online
Excerpt from Chapter 12 of Ginger’s Heart, a modern fairytale, by Katy Regnery. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
An hour later they stopped by the Glenn River, eight miles downriver from Ginger’s house and two from the distillery where Cain had partied last night.
“We should water them,” he said, reining in Thunder and dismounting with the ease of a lifelong horseman.
She reined in Heath, who nickered in protest, and grinned down at Cain who reached up for her. His hands lingered for an extra moment on her hips as she slid down the front of his body. Leaning her head back, she stared up at him, daring him to pull her closer, to kiss her, to admit that this whole “friends” thing was bullshit on fire. But, he clenched his jaw, cleared his throat and dropped his hands.
“Thanks,” she murmured, her voice husky in her ears as he stared down at her, his eyes flinty and dark.
Taking Heath’s reins with a grunt, he turned away from her, leading the horses to the river’s edge and leaving her to follow behind. She leaned down to pick up a flat stone and skipped it across the slow moving water.
“Not bad,” said Cain.
“You were always the best.”
“Nah,” he said. “Woodman was better.”
“Nope,” she countered, picking up another stone. “Woodman was good, but you were better. Remember that Fourth of July that you skipped eleven times? Eleven times. It was a record.”
Satisfied that the horses were calm and drinking their fill, Cain leaned down and grabbed a rock of his own, skipping it over the dark water.
“Wow!” she said, clapping lightly. “You’ve still got the touch!”
He turned to her, grinning. “You always get excited about the littlest things. What’s it like gettin’ a kick out of everythin’, Gin?”
“What’s it like gettin’ a kick out of nothin’, Cain?” she asked, her voice full of sass.
“I’m gettin’ a kick out of you right now, princess.”
A charge zapped between them as the words left his mouth, and her breath hitched and held for just a moment, but she looked down and picked up another rock. She was enjoying today too much to go back to Awkwardland.
She skipped her rock, which sunk after three measly hops.
“Remember when you saved my Cabbage Patch doll from certain doom in this river?” she asked him.
He screwed up his face as her. “Wasn’t me. Must have been Woodman.”
“It was you!” she insisted. “Not Woodman!”
“Savin’ a dolly? Please. That has Woodman written all over it. I couldn’t have cared less if it drowned.”
“But I cared,” she said softly. “Which is why you saved it.”
“Fine. Have it your way,” he said, sitting down on a large rock near the water’s edge.
She sighed, squatting down to wash her hands in the clear water before looking back at him. “Why do you do that?”
“Let Woodman take credit for all the good things?”
He shrugged, looking away from her, out at the water. “I don’t.”
“You just did. Twice.”
He sighed, giving her a long-suffering look. “If somethin’ good happened, chances were, it was Woodman’s doin’.”
“How do you figure?”
“He’s the better man, Gin,” said Cain, his eyes severe, his words deliberate.
She stood up slowly, turning her body completely to face him. “Do you really believe that?”
He looked away. “It’s the truth.”
“Cain. Cain, look at me.” Her words didn’t feel like enough so she beseeched him with her eyes too. “You’re just as good a man as he is.”
“Ha!” scoffed Cain, standing up and moving away from her. “Not in this life, princess.”
Do you remember listening to fairytales when you were young and sighing, dreaming that someday you’ll be like the princess (or some other storybook character) in your own magical story one day? Or do you remember fairytales that weren’t necessarily of a dreamy nature, but were instead dark and scary, and you hoped you would never encounter something like that in your life, like ever? They can be exciting. They can be enchanting. They can also be shadowy and frightening. Or they can be a little of both.
My first Katy Regnery experience was The Vixen and the Vet (A Modern Fairytale, #1) and I fell in love with it. This author is taking some of the fairytales we all know and uses them (just a little bit) as inspiration when she writes the books in this series. The Vixen and the Vet was a take on The Beauty and the Beast. And before you begin to wonder whether these books are worthy of reading because they are fashioned after stories we all know, think again! These books are very original. They are set in modern times and have amazing, complex characters and storyline development! The second in the series was Never Let You Go which was loosely fashioned after Hansel and Gretel, another amazing story (you can find its review on our blog). So, as you can probably tell, I was practically chomping at the bit, waiting for this book to become available – I could hardly wait for the day I could hunker down and begin to inhale it – and it was so worth the wait!
This book, Ginger’s Heart is based on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Now, I have to tell you, this concerned me. That story can be wicked! And the wolf, well, we all know he was pretty cunning and ruthless. But I knew I had to read this book in any case because it’s part of one of my favorite series (although I did go into it with a slight bit of trepidation). After all, how could a story involving a woodsman, a girl, a grandma, and a wolf become a romance? Well, it can, and it did. This is the genius and talent that is the writing within these books!
I found myself completely entranced within the first chapter and it didn’t let up. There’s a note in the beginning of the book asking the reader to not skip ahead and read the last page before reading the book – yet this was, in all honestly, a book where I have to say I was sorely tempted to do just that (and no, I do not make a habit of doing that at all)! As I began to know the characters, I desperately wanted to know how this was going to all work out. There is a love-triangle within this one and although I secretly knew whom I was rooting for, I had absolutely no idea of which direction this story would go – I just knew I was “all in” for the journey!
Ginger (a redhead, of course, but you need a Red-Riding Hood at some point for this to work, after all), is a 12-year old girl when we first “meet” her. She has two boys in her life, Cain Wolfram and Josiah Woodman who are not only her very best friends in the world, but the two of them are also first-cousins. She loves them both. And they both love her.
Although this book begins when Ginger is 12, it then skips ahead 3 years to when she’s 15, and then again to when she’s 18, and once more to when she’s 21. These all become pivotal ages in her life, especially in regard to these two boys. It sounds like it would be confusing but it is not. Each is clearly delineated and very easy to follow – plus as an interesting side-note, each section is told from each of their points of view (Ginger, Josiah, and Cain). When there are small amounts of redundancies, they are necessary to really learn that person’s feelings or thoughts about that scene or conversation (and they also provide a point of reference that helps you keep track of what is going on). That being said, it was different. I’m quite sure I’ve never read a book with three different POVs in a love-triangle before but in this case, it works! This story will take you through the paces – it messes with your emotions and you really “feel” what is going on with each of them.
Even as a 12-year old, Ginger knows inherently that she loves both of these boys and the idea of choosing between them seems like an impossibility (although she is beginning to understand that this could cause problems in their futures). To better think this quandary through, she goes to the one adult who really listens to her and is her closest confidant – her Gran…
…”Whatcha got there, doll baby?” “Gift from Woodman,” said Ginger, feeling her cheeks flush. “Awful pretty,” said Gran, reaching for the bracelet, her shaking fingers making it jiggle as she looked at each one of the charms. “And awful thoughtful. Josiah’s a good boy…Rumor is you’re gonna marry him someday,” said Kalleyanne [Gran] to her granddaughter, her sixty-something blue eyes merry. “But what do you say?”…”I don’t know,” she said, feeling her forehead crease in confusion. “Or maybe you’re thinkin’ you want to marry. . .Cain,” said Gran softly…”What do I do if I love them both?” Her grandmother’s eyes, which had been mostly teasing, flinched, and her mouth tilted down in a sympathetic frown, which made her face seem so serious and sober. “Choose, doll baby,” said Gran. “Someday you’ll have to choose.”…Choose? No, her heart protested. Impossible. “What if I can’t?” she whispered, leaning back and resting her head on her grandmother’s comforting shoulder. “Then you’ll lose them both,” said her grandmother softly….
I adored Ginger’s relationship with her Gran, by the way. It was nurturing and loving and supportive on both their parts. It was beautiful.
Ginger’s family owns a high-end horse breeding-farm and live on its beautiful estate (where, by the way, Gran also lives in a cottage on the property so she’s close-by whenever Ginger needs her) The farm’s stallion manager is Cain’s dad, who lives and breathes horses. But that is a pretty big issue – Cain is “the help’s” kid and her family doesn’t consider them “their equals” in a social setting.
Josiah, however, even though he’s Cain’s first cousin (their moms were identical twins), is the son of the local banker. Ginger’s and Josiah’s moms have had it all figured out for years, raising their children to grow up and marry one another someday. They even discussed the future grandchildren they would share someday! There were times I wanted to slap those women – no kids need that type of pressure! Josiah’s family has money. Cain’s family does not. But these things didn’t matter to Ginger. Her love for them was all that mattered to her, and the idea of choosing between them tears her heart in two…
“I was gonna kiss him…He was gonna be my first kiss.” His heart pounded as his arms wound around her, pulling her close to him, as close as he could until her breasts were crushed against his chest. His cock sprang to life, hardening and thickening behind his jeans, wanting more from this beloved, forbidden girl. “Never been kissed?” “Not yet.” Blood pounded in his head as he reviewed what she was saying, and though he willed himself to ignore her thinly veiled suggestion, he found he couldn’t. After three years of longing and a lifetime ahead, he just couldn’t leave the moment alone. “You still want that first kiss?” he asked close to her ear, his voice low and husky. Her breath, which was hot and sweet on his neck, hitched. “You offerin’?” “What if I say yes?” he whispered…”I still want that first kiss,” she murmured, taking her teeth across her bottom lip. She dropped her eyes to his mouth and let her hot gaze linger there…”You’re sure?” Her eyes slid up slowly to meet his, certain and clear. “I’m sure.”….
But these kids didn’t care about social divides; they played together as children every day, swimming and running around the estate. They even had a tradition the three of them enjoyed each year on Ginger’s birthday. Until one year, everything changed… They grew up.
I loved this book more than I can tell you. There is love and loyalty and sacrifice and tragedy and grief and joy. This book made me laugh. This book made me cry. This book made me fall in love with it and I was very sad to see it end. It is one of those books where you wish you could go back and reread it again for the first time to once again capture the magic of the story and let it invade you heart all over again.
Do not think you should disregard these books because they are based on fairy-tales. These are not your fairy tales from childhood. These are the grownup kind that can make your heart beat faster with lust and yet, still, you feel your heart break at times and burst in joy in others. The men are both amazing and love Ginger completely. But the problem is, they consider themselves more like brothers instead of cousins, and they love each other too. This made for an interesting dynamic and made this story unpredictable in a lot of ways. This is a beautiful story!
It’s difficult to think that we’re going to have to wait until next year (2017) for the next book in this series. I honestly want to read it like, right now (plus, it’s going to be about the Little Mermaid, one of my favorite stories)! Alas, we will all have to wait together. But then, the artistry of this series and the depth of these stories make each of these books absolutely worth the wait!