Wild Heart

 Wild Heart Kdp-FINAL-72dpiShe’s afraid to love again, and he’s afraid to love at all … until their shared love for horses shows them how to love each other.

In one day at a horse show in 1975, Linny Eagan loses her job, her beloved, and her dream of becoming an equestrian champion. The triple loss forces her to invent a new dream—this time skipping the romance part and trusting only in horses, which can never betray her.

Her first try lands her at a public trail-riding stable on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. There she meets Con Winston, who dreams of being a Western artist on his own Montana ranch. But he must play family head-games for two more years, when he will inherit a fortune that will make his dream come true. Until then he won’t waver from his path, or give himself to anyone.

Yet in working together with horses, he and Linny discover a perfect match of heart and mind. But Linny doesn’t share Con’s dream and won’t ask him to sacrifice it; and Con feels the same way about her dream. When things fall apart at the stable, they regretfully continue in opposite directions, connected only by Con’s half-wild horse.

Living apart finally proves to them that dreams need love to sustain them, and the only chance to have both is to reinvent a new dream together.

NNLight-AwardWinner    Chatelaine-semi

Available at KINDLE STORE Wild Heart

The first edition of Wild Heart was published by Wild Rose Press in 2015 as Into the Sunrise, and is no longer available in this form. The books are identical save for light edits and typo corrections. Into the Sunrise won 2nd place in the 2015 International Digital Awards in Contemporary Romance. A few print copies of this edition are available direct from the author. Contact at dcmahaley [at sign] gmail.com.

The reviews following the excerpt are also for the original edition.



In answer to our unspoken question, an arm of wind swept over the knoll to salt-tingle our noses. The group scrambled forward, to be blocked by Miriam upon mounting the crest.

“Look sharp and sit tight,” she told everyone. “Your horses might get excited at this part. Stay in line behind me, and if you all keep control, we might get in a little trot.”

We attempted to obey, falling silent as we beheld a broad, flat beach arching out of sight in both directions, fringed by ocean stained to gold-slashed burgundy by the setting sun. My collar and bandana fluttered as I gazed, while all around me the horses bobbed and blew, straining to be free.

Shark started to rev up like a race car—and Klatawah didn’t bother revving, just bunched her mus­cles and shot off in a spray of sand. Con yelped as he lurched back, but his polo reflexes saved him, whereas I had to save myself by grabbing the saddle horn when Shark dropped her head and leaped after them, searing the reins through my fingers. Around us whoops, whin­nies, and hollers erupted as the rest of the herd spewed across the beach like buckshot.


In the space of two seconds, I relived my fall yet again while my limbs scrambled for purchase. I had never ridden as fast as Shark was galloping—wind rip­ping my bandana off and splaying open my shirt—and I’d lost my stirrups at her first plunging stride. But I found my balance and just let the horse go, inhibition having been blown away with everything else. Nothing mattered except the freedom of pounding across the sand straight into the sunset. Behind me lay a helter-skelter of shouting blurs belonging to another life.

Joy brought tears to my eyes, and wind streaked them across my face. I whipped by Con, who had man­aged to circle Klatawah and regain control. He spurred the mare after me like a cop after a speeder and ate the distance between us with Klatawah’s huge strides. I saw a russet shape encroaching from the corner of my eye; then Klatawah drew even, her nostrils gaping and mane streaming as Con stretched over her neck, urging her on. No chase, I realized, but a race!


This was not supposed to happen. From the glance he shot me, I knew that he knew, and was throwing responsibility away for a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I caught the same fever and spurred Shark onward, feel­ing wilder than I ever had in my life.

We veered toward the water, hooting and pumping the reins. Our horses extended beneath us in their own instinctive race, until the beach dropped sharply into the waves. Shark and Klatawah jammed on the brakes to get their hindquarters under them, almost hopping as they adjusted to the slope and the sudden momentum-stopping water. Con and I banged in our saddles, splashed to soaking before we realized we’d be swim­ming if we angled out any farther. Our race deteriorated into a scramble back upslope, the horses heaving through the wet, gummy sand to the drained, packed sand, and up over the shoulder to the dry beach.

I reined in, laughing, and met his grin while our mounts blew and bucked in circles around each other. He was waiting to meet my gaze each time our horses were pointed in the right direction, and he held it with equal intensity, all masks forgotten, all words that could be said captured in our smiles. For those moments, I felt my heart beat with his and almost saw something reach out between us and bind us to each other.

But then faint shouts broke the connection and brought reality back.

With a sigh, we turned toward the shouts and saw, far down the shore, that the other riders had stopped their horses and stayed in the saddle, though they remained confused and scattered. Miriam crisscrossed the beach trying to round them up. She paused after each success to holler and wave at us. We looked at each other again, no longer smiling—no longer an us—then exchanged nods and about-faced to lope leisurely back along the upper sands.



“All it takes is one fateful day for Linny to lose her dreams of becoming a horse-riding champion and the love of her life. One dream she can tweak and begin again (the dream of horse-riding success); but the other—a healthy romance with one who won’t betray her—seems ever-elusive. And so Linny sets aside her longing for love in favor of horses, which seem like a much more achievable goal, in comparison.

“There’s only one problem with her newfound goal and rejection of romantic entanglements: love has a way of entering even the horse pen to ride away with one’s heart; and when she meets a stable boy with dreams, the entanglements begin again.

“Only this time it’s two love-shy individuals with their own powerful, different goals in life—both horse-oriented—which come together with a clash. In some ways they are perfect matches; in other ways, their paths in life seem quite different.

“One of the pleasures of Into the Sunrise lies in its exploration of how two very independent individuals change courses to stay true to their dreams while slowly evolving a love for one another. Another strength is the book’s attention to presenting romance as just one of the lures in each individual’s life. With such perspectives, depth is achieved—and under such a hand, attraction is tempered with realistic success, tragedies, strife, and mental compromises for both characters.

“While Into the Sunrise is most definitely a romance, it’s also a story steeped in horses, psychological twists and turns, and revelations that indicate how relationships past and present influence future choices: ‘Though I was dying to know what dear-old-daddy had done that could provoke my prince to violence, I didn’t want to sidetrack Con or have him clam up. Better to show I could respect his privacy, since he was clearly confiding, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know all the gritty truth.’

“Readers of horse stories, romances, and novels will find Into the Sunrise satisfyingly complex.”

—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review (original review at Donovan’s Literary Services)

“Carolyn Haley brings the reader a realistic story of Linny Eagan’s recovery from both physical and emotional trauma. After Linny finds her fiancé with another woman, she loses her concentration while competing in an equestrian event and is thrown from her horse. Her family decides she should spend the summer recovering. She and her sister, Jona, are invited to stay in a house on Cape Cod with Jona’s fiancé and the host and owner of the house, Con Winston.

“Con is on his own emotional roller coaster. He stands to inherit a fortune if he does what his father demands. In the meantime, he’s earning a living by working as a trail leader on a horse ranch and isolating himself in his room to paint. He’s just trying to make it to his twenty-fifth birthday so he can settle down on a Montana ranch and paint for one of the local galleries.

“Linny and Con live in the same house and they’re just friends—at least that’s what they tell everyone. They both fight the urge to be more than that. Linny wants to get back to a place where she can fulfill her dream of being an equestrian champion and Con has his own plan to work on if he intends to receive his inheritance. Neither one wants the complication of a partner, so they go their separate ways for a while.

“Into the Sunrise deals with some real life issues—learning to trust and making some tough life choices. Haley developed characters who are thoughtful, believable and likeable.

“For me, the only downfall of the book was the setting of 1975. This book reads like a contemporary except for a few references to appliances (typewriter and landline phones). Although the year was stated at the beginning of the first chapter and the book was published in the Vintage Rose collection from The Wild Rose Press, I found each time a typewriter or landline phone was mentioned, it took me out of the story. Perhaps if more references to the year were employed, it would have felt more like a 1970s story. Overall, Haley delivered a story I can recommend to readers who enjoy a good romance.”

—Jackie McMurray, The Book Breeze (original review at The Book Breeze)

Into the Sunrise by Carolyn Haley is the story of Linnea Eagan (Linny), a woman who is bent on having a career with horses even though her family doesn’t agree. After a nasty fall that left her bruised, sore, and with a concussion, Linny must decide what to do with her life as she comes to accept that her relationship is over and that she might not have what it takes to be the champion she always dreamed of being. To make things even more difficult, Michael won’t take no for an answer and keeps popping up. Con evokes feelings in Linny that she doesn’t want to examine and that she feels she isn’t ready for, but no matter how she tries to run, Con keeps making things more difficult and forces Linny to examine the feelings she has for him. Dare she hope they can work through Con’s jumbled family ties and have a happily ever after with their horses by their sides?

Into the Sunrise by Carolyn Haley is a tale that could step off the pages and become reality. Full of the truth and heartbreak that happen in daily life, Into the Sunrise is a heartwarming story as one woman learns she’s stronger than she thinks and starts to fight for what she wants, despite not knowing if it will really work out. Beautiful imagery puts you right there with Linny as she rides one of her three favorite horses. I hope Carolyn Haley continues Linny’s tale in a sequel, as I’d love to know how the story really ends!

—April Gilly, Readers’ Favorite (original review at Readers’ Favorite)

Customer reviews from Amazon when book was out through WRP:

Kevin Gale

June 1, 2015

Let me start by stating that I’m surely not the target audience for this book. As a near 50 year old male who reads a lot of hard science fiction I’m pretty sure the book wasn’t written with me as a reader in mind but that says good things about the book. I was immediately drawn in by the characters and their story and I just had to see how it ended. It was a hard story to put down which is always a good sign. I had no problem identifying with the main characters. I remember that time of life. The time where you are starting out, trying to figure out a direction. The time when love seems to happen but when it isn’t convenient and often seems more of a complication than anything else. This story brought that time back to me and I loved it.


August 31, 2016

This story takes place in 1975. Lenny Eagan was a young woman who had always loved horses. She had recently sustained an injury in an equestrian competition and had decided to travel with her sister to Cape Cod for the summer to recover and heal. Following her injury, she had lost her love, her job and her future. She was offered a job as a stable hand at a horse stable near where she was staying with her sister and as she began to heal she was reminded how much she loved working with horses.

Con Winston had inherited the home where Linny and her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, Dave, were staying. Dave and Con were friends and he had offered to have them all stay for the summer. Lenny began to enjoy her time with Con as a friend but before long she began to feel deeper feelings for Con. She was still healing her broken heart after she found her boyfriend, Michael, cheating on her. She wasn’t ready for another romantic relationship so soon after her heartbreak. Lenny and Con began to bond over his horse, Klatawah. Klatawah did not allow many to get close to him without a negative response. Lenny was able to break through Klatawah’s barriers and get him to trust her. As the horse began to trust Lenny, so did Con.

I enjoyed reading this story about Con and Linny and their journey towards love.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

D. Beck

July 7, 2016

I loved this book! I must admit I love horses, so a book about horses & romance was right up my alley. I loved how the romance unfolded in the book. It was based on the ups & downs of real life instead of storybook “perfect” love. I couldn’t put this book down. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

September 28, 2016

a good read really nice story a great summer read really liked it

Author interview at
The Writer’s Ally

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