A Kiss Before Dawn by Laurie Salzler

AKissBeforeDawnThis novel has the most undramatic, unsensational opening of a novel that I’ve read in a long time: a woman wanders out of a house and to a barn to check her horses. How unremarkable that sounds. But I could feel the humidity and the sweat, I wanted to reach down and pat the dogs and I wanted to take that walk around with them.

Here’s the blurb:

Country girl Chris Martel has struggled all her life to form strong, lasting relationships. For Chris, love, compassion, and trust are critical. In their absence, Chris has turned to her dog and her horse for the emotional fulfillment she craves. Then along comes Mary Jo Cavanaugh.

Fresh out of veterinary school, Mary Jo inadvertently antagonizes Chris with her overconfident assumptions about how to care for animals. She comes to learn that Chris’s practical experience provides both a wealth of knowledge and a friendship unlike any she’s ever known.

The carefully built walls around Chris’s heart begin to crumble as she acknowledges the unfamiliar feelings evoked by being with Mary Jo. Just as she believes she’s found the happiness that had always eluded her, someone from Chris’s past comes back into her life, intent on winning Chris’s affections, no matter what the cost.

Can the love between Chris and Mary Jo survive so that they can share A Kiss Before Dawn?

I loved the setting of this novel – a horse farm in the hills near Bristol (USA). The pace of the novel, like the life in the countryside, is laid back and relaxing. People take their time, drink coffee, talk to each other. They notice flowers, the weather, the smell of a new truck, the smell of the forest, the birds. The scenery and animals are wonderfully vivid and real and the leisurely pace encourages you to sit back and enjoy living in the novel for a while.

Laurie has a great knowledge of horses and countryside and the lead character, Chris Martel, is completely convincing – living and breathing horses. There is a beautiful part near the end of the book where Chris is banned from doing chores. Mary Jo wakes to find a new foal has been born and then notices that the mare has been fed and afterbirth cleared away (by Chris). It’s a lovely piece that is true to both carefully drawn characters.

A slight negative, for me, was the over explanation of characters’ feelings and thoughts. I think a lot of this was unnecessary since Laurie had already created scenes which showed extremely well what they thought and felt.

I gave A Kiss Before Dawn four stars for creating an utterly memorable and convincing character of Chris Martel and a wonderful book to live in for several days.


4 thoughts on “A Kiss Before Dawn by Laurie Salzler

  1. Well said, Clare. Great review. I enjoyed the read and learned much of the heart and soul behind two caretakers in the equine world. Very educational from that aspect.

    • I did love this book for the complete picture Laurie gave it with her incredible knowledge. I wasn’t sure if I would like it initially (I’m not a horsey person although I do love animals and the countryside), but I absolutely loved the aspect of looking after horses.

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