BOOK REVIEW: ‘Against the Ropes’: Action at Westwood Thoroughbred Farm Continues in 4th Entry in Cindy McDonald’s ‘Unbridled Adventure’ Series

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Against the Ropes': Action at Westwood Thoroughbred Farm Continues in 4th Entry in Cindy McDonald's 'Unbridled Adventure' Series

After reading and reviewing “Dangerous Deception” by Cindy McDonald last year (link to  my review: I wondered aloud how she could top the non-stop action on and around the race track and in the bedrooms of this romance thriller.

In “Against the Ropes” (Acorn Book Services, 234 pages, $12.59, on we return to  Westwood Thoroughbred Farm, run by patriarch Eric West in Rosemount, PA and I can assure readers that this — the fourth entry in the “Unbridled Adventure” thoroughbred-themed romance suspense series — is just as exciting as “Dangerous Deception.” (“Hot Coco” and “” were the previous entries in the “Unbridled” series: I haven’t read them.)

 If this is your first exposure to this series, a caution: Cindy’s writing is quite explicit when it comes to romantic encounters. I’m not a specialist in romance novels, but I understand this is not unusual in today’s “bodice (and other garments) rippers”!

The action in “Against the Ropes” begins when Punch McMinn, the African-American farm manager at Westwood rescues Eugene Strom from what he believes is a suicide attempt from a rundown bridge spanning Reardon’s Run near the farm. Strom is a boxer on the run from a group of bad guys headed by a guy named Burke, who believes the boxer has stolen money from the mob.

Punch takes the burly boxer under his wing and convinces Eric West, the owner of the farm, to give him a job. It turns out to be a poor decision since it draws the attention of Burke and his cohorts, but Punch is a good-hearted man who is virtually a West family member; he grew up with Eric West’s kids, Mike, Shane and Kate after his father abandoned the family.

There’s plenty of action of all types in “Against the Ropes” involving members of the West family, including Kate West, her love interest, hunky veterinarian Dr. Holden Reese, her rival, the beautiful and scheming Ava West, ex-wife of Eric’s son Mike and a full cast of characters.

If all this sounds like the making of a TV series, on the order of “Dallas” or “Dynasty” it’s no coincidence. Cindy McDonald writes that the “Unbridled Adventure” series started out as a concept for the screen:

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack. Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do; but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction. I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did! In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. It has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books and I love sharing them with you. To read excerpts from future books, view book trailers, and keep up with everything that is Unbridled, please visit Cindy’s website at:

This is a great book to take to the beach or the mountains, or just to enjoy at home. I think people new to romance novels will be pleasantly surprised with the “Unbridled Books”, including the latest entry, “Against the Ropes.” The book includes an excerpt from the next entry in the “Unbridled Adventure” series —  due this fall — “Shady Deals.” It continues the events of “Against the Ropes.”


About the author

Cindy McDonald was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. For 26 years she was a professional choreographer,she taught ballet, jazz, and tap. During that time she choregraphed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. Most recently she has retired to write her novels. She resides with her husband on their Thoroughbred farm know as Fly By Night Stables near Pittsburgh.To learn more about her book series and to read excerpts from her upcoming books, please visit her


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: