Trooper Jack Woodvine is ready to do his bit for the war effort, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to rush to the front. So when he’s assigned to the role of groom at a chateau for officers, he finds the work suits him. He loves horses after all and at least here there is a measure of safety. Jack’s charge is a spirited horse called Apollo and he’s known for making mincemeat out of his grooms. But with Jack he’s gentle and sweet, something Apollo’s owner, Captain Robert Thorne, is quick to notice. Despite the fact that Thorne is known to be as prickly as his steed, he and Jack quickly become friends. There’s a difference in rank, of course, but for Jack and Robert, friendship and then love are more important than rules. Theirs is a passionate affair forever under the threat of war and when the call to fight comes, Jack and Robert must find a way to survive against incredible odds.
The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper was too much of everything — too much saccharine sweetness, too much insta-love, and too much over the top dramatics. I didn’t dislike Jack and Robert; they were a cute couple in many ways, but there isn’t much substance to them. They feel a bit flat and weakly rendered. They have a lot of heart for one another, but not much else. They do enjoying writing rather terrible poetry, but even that fails to be terribly redemptive. There’s a lot of naughty soldier play and saucy spanking and it comes off as too ridiculous given the backdrop of the story. I appreciate the idea of living while you can, but this feels like it’s been taken to the extreme.
The story is rather like an overwrought soap opera, but not in a fun way. There’s a lecherous officer, an opportunistic and evil fellow groom, and so on. Everyone is a highly caricatured and lacking any sense of realism or believability. The antagonist is especially problematic and is presented as an extremely petty and narcissistic bastard. And while he gets his just desserts, that doesn’t serve as particularly satisfying. On the whole, The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper never feels anything more than eye-rollingly dramatic. The story plays out as predictable and bland. When the overwhelming amount of purple prose is added on top, it makes for a mountain of syrupy goop that cripples the book nearly from the start. There seemed to be an attempt to give Jack and Robert a happily ever after, but it’s so historically absurd that it ends up being another failure.
There isn’t much about The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper I can stand behind. It reads like a penny a page romance without much heart or substance. I wanted to like Jack and Robert and on a basic level I did, but it never grows to anything beyond that. This isn’t one I can recommend.